1/31/14 Veuve Fourny
In 2013 Charles Fourny came to Portland and did an event at Red Slate. Due to the odd day of schedule shuffling, I had a some time at the end of the day and got lucky that Charles could see me. It was interesting to visit another producer in Vertus, they're quite proud of their village, and definitely feel like they have something to prove since it's next to many famed grand crus, but is only premier cru itself.
Charles took me out to the vineyards as well, but unlike my visit with Doquet, we toured the village's vineyards as a whole rather than going in depth on a couple parcels. Vertus has 3 distinct areas: 1. Southern end which is more of a bowl or amphitheater with most southern exposure, this area is home to Les Rougemonts, Fourny's single vineyard rosė, as well as Doquet's parcels. Clay soils. 2. The midsection which is SE facing and parallels the southern end of the Montagne de Reims villages of Ambonnay and Bouzy. Chalk based soils. 3. The northern end which borders Mesnil sur Oger. East facing with lots of chalk. Charles feels Vertus has lots of possibility due to these distinct areas and is underrated. Within all three of the sub zones, there were a lot of different. Hills and exposures, adding to the complexity and the need carefully select parcels. That being said, Charles was quite proud of his parcels lower on the slope, whereas, Doquet thought this area to be lesser. The final vineyard stop was at the Clos du Notre Dame, which is adjacent to the winery, it's one of the few Clos in champagne, and is planted with 70 chard, 30 Pinot. Its plowed by horse, the same horse that plows Clos du Ambonnay, Clos du Mesnil, and Clos de Goisses, pretty serious group.
After running around the vineyards, which have been organic since 1992, we went back to the winery which was quite modern and larger than I expected. We tasted a bunch of vin clairs, both from the Cuvėe and the taillet the difference between the clay and chalk parcels were obvious the first being richer and more exotic, the later being more precise and salty. Charles obviously had plenty of thoughts on winemaking but was less interesting in digging around in the details and just rattled of the facts that he thinks oxidization in bad, and likes a minimal approach with no lees stirring, racking, fining or filtering, and a low sulfur regime. ML happens for all rouge, but the other wines are on a year by year basis. As we talked and tasted, Charles thinks that most people under 35 in France are excited about the idea of terrior, etc whereas the parents just don't care much and want an easy champagne with a name they know.
We moved on to the finished wines, and I was impressed. Possibly because of the tour and barrel tasting, or possibly because of all of the visits but I found I really appreciated Fourny's wines this trip, particularly the basic wines. The house style of fresh wines with high acid also became more obvious. A couple highlights: Millėsime 2007 - the fruit comes from the northern end of Vertus and really showed the grey tones Roldophe Peters discussed in relation to Mesnil. Millėsime 2008 - the 07 is good, and interesting, the 2008 was awesome! I can't wait for this wine to come to the states. Delicious, great acid, wow! Cuvėe R 08/07 base. Impressive and compelling wine. Another one I'm looking forward to seeing back home. All oak barrels for 18 months but only 2-3 g/L dose so it was dense, creamy, and delicious but retained fantastic acid. Unfortunately he was out of the Clos du Notre Dame, so I didn't get to taste it, but the visit was fantastic with lots of information on the terrior of Vertus.