Champagne Veuve Fourny
Champagne Veuve Fourny
Most of you will know by now that I am an enormous fan of the Champagnes of Veuve Fourny et Fils. They make fabulous wines of exceptional quality and depth and regularly receive rave reviews from both the domestic and international press. And now, they have just revealed a very well-kept secret with their sensational new release of a twenty-year old Cuvée “R” (see below), so it seemed like a good moment to offer their wines again.
Emmanuel and Charles-Henry are the fifth generation of the family to farm here since 1856 and now own and lease (from other family members) some 20 hectares of 1er Cu in the Côte des Blancs on the outstanding limestone and chalk soils around Vertus. They practice their own lutte raisonnée, which is organic in the vineyards, and prune very short to restrict yields. Their vines average 40 years of age and the family have practiced sélection massale since the 1930s (replanting from cuttings of the finest, oldest vines, a method regaining popularity). The vineyards are 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir. Only the first pressing (cuvée) is used, all “tailles” (second pressings) being discarded. All their wines receive a minimum of 3 years’ ageing prior to disgorgement and a further six months “on the cork”. A state of the art, temperature-controlled chai was completed just in time for the 2012 vintage, with lots of small cuves that enable each of their 20 individual terroirs to be vinified separately and so allow Emmanuel to work his magic.
Price is Per 6 x 75cl inclusive, all wines offered subject to remaining available
NV Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, Premier Cru – Now £200 List Price £227.70
5 g/l It’s as if someone like Alain Chavy put some remarkably fine bubbles into his Puligny. This is quite exquisite; elegant, with terrific depth of flavour and lovely balance. It sits gently on the palate and shouts quality very loudly. Very fine indeed. Perfect with Sushi and sashimi.
NV Rosé Brut, Premier Cru – Now £225 List Price £249
6g/l 50% Chardonnay, 50% destemmed Pinot Noir. Foot-trodden grapes. Cask aged. This is just lovely, amazing quality. Ripe, soft red and blacks fruits on the nose, yet in the mouth it is clean and pure with real elegance and tremendous depth of flavour, long finish. Fantastic value really, and now my new favourite rosé Champagne.
2014 Monts de Vertus, Premier Cru – Now £295 List Price £330
3 g/l Monts de Vertus is a parcel of hill-top vines, at least 50 years old. 2014 was a tricky year but, in the end, many houses, including the Fournys, produced very good, balanced wine. The M de V is a bigger wine than the NV Blanc de Blancs, more weight, deeply flavoured with mineral, almost saline undercurrent. Terrific length and balance. Marvellous.
New, Special Release
Cuvée “R” 20 ans £825 per 6 x 75 cl IB – ** Late June arrival.
One of Fourny’s top wines is the Cuvée “R” (R for Roger, one of their founders). A 100% Chardonnay blend of two consecutive vintages from fifty-year old vines on the rendzina soil over chalk of their Vertus 1er Cru vineyards, it is vinified in oak casks and then aged for 18 months on lees in oak barrels. It is then aged for at least four years in bottle in the Fournys’ 19th-century cellars. A wine of “opulence and suavity”, as they describe it, it is a gastronomic wine aimed at accompanying fine foods (they suggest white truffles and fine soft cheeses).
The great, and very exciting, news is that they’re now going to release a very special Cuvée “R”, one that has been aged for at least twenty years, so, presumably, not just any white truffle will do this time! This has to be a “must buy”, as much as any wine is. Supply is very limited (I’m having at least one bottle!) and demand is likely to be high, so get in quick!
It’s not always evident to the casual observer passing through its often sleepy villages, but there’s a lot going on in Burgundy nowadays. Change is being driven by the increasingly high prices demanded by, and paid for, producers whose wines, even a few years ago, represented reasonable value but now force one to spurt out ‘How much?’ A steady increase in worldwide demand combined with a number of short vintages in recent years, however, makes such rises inevitable. On top of that, the 2021 vintage was exceptionally small (more below), and is putting further pressure on prices.
Of course, if you want great or rare wine from Burgundy, and few wine lovers don’t, then the price has to be paid; there are no cheap Picassos either. But as a Burgundy lover who actually wants to drink the stuff and keep a roof over his or her head, the trick is to find a producer who makes good to very good wine, true to its terroir and with character BUT who is not a big name and can still price fairly. So, even though some of the names we are in the process of shipping aren’t familiar, and this Bachey-Legros offer is an example, the wines are very good and offer exceptional value and good drinking, which for most of us, after all, is the whole point of buying wine.
The 2021 vintage:
Most people will have heard of the severe frosts that hit the region in early April, but the real villain was the exceptionally warm March, which caused the buds to break and growth to start so that when the frosts did arrive the damage was devastating. The earlier growing Chardonnay was the most severely affected, with losses between 50% and 80% in most areas, but Pinot Noir also suffered badly. Worse was that the frosts were accompanied by snow, so that the higher Grand Cru vineyards were the hardest hit. A cool, damp summer led to virulent attacks of oïdium and mildew necessitating frequent spraying and extensive deleafing both to air the grapes and to get some sun on them. The ripening of the grapes was retarded by the cool weather, and rain in early September left everyone wondering whether they’d get anything for all their hard work … but there’s a happy ending. The rain stopped in mid-September and the sun came out, the grapes finally ripened and picking began in late September (unheard of in recent years). Rigorous sorting was required to remove diseased grapes, further reducing yields, and in many cases the produce of several vineyards had to be mixed in order to fill the vats. The results, however, have been highly encouraging. Everyone is agreed that the Whites are almost uniformly exceptional, with a beautiful freshness. The Reds are a little more variable, but the best are exquisite. Paler and lower in alcohol than in recent years, they are elegant and perfumed rather than powerful, as we remember Burgundy (the word ‘classic’ keeps cropping up).
Price is GBP under bond per case 6 x 75cl, wines are due to arrive spring 2023. Minimum order is 24 bottles which may be mixed, with a 5% discount on orders of 36 bottles or more. All wines offered subject to remaining available. E & OE. All the wines list below are available at the time of writing.
Domaine Bachey-Legros, Haut-Santenay
I have been sourcing wine from this wonderful old estate for several years now and I have never been disappointed in the quality of their wines, indeed, my expectations are usually exceeded. The greatest asset they have, apart from the dedicated people running the winery, is the abundance of old vines; most of their 18 hectares, if not all, having been planted by this current generation’s grandfather and great-grandfather, so the vines average out at 60 years plus – although their 0.4ha Clos Rousseau ‘Les Fourneaux’ was planted in 1914, making them the oldest vines in Santenay.
Brothers Samuel and Lenaïc, the sixth generation, have joined their mother Christiane Bachey-Legros in running the family estate and I am sure it will continue to go from strength to strength. If you want proper Burgundy for drinking, without breaking the bank, then this is an excellent estate to buy from.
|Sell IB Per 6|
|Bourgogne ‘Saint-Martin’||2021||6||£ 99.00|
|Maranges Blanc||2021||6||£ 110.00|
|Santenay ‘Sous la Roche’||2021||6||£ 138.00|
|Santenay ‘En Charrons’||2021||6||£ 140.00|
|Santenay 1er Cru Clos des Gravières||2021||6||£ 175.00|
|Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc||2021||6||£ 238.00|
|Meursault ‘Les Grands Charrons’, Bachey-Legros & Fils||2021||6||£ 315.00|
|Puligny-Montrachet, Bachey-Legros & Fils||2021||6||£ 310.00|
|Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Les Petit Clos||2021||6||£ 315.00|
|Maranges Rouge||2021||6||£ 105.00|
|Maranges Rouge ‘Le Goty’||2021||6||£ 110.00|
|Santenay Rouge Vieilles Vignes||2021||6||£ 125.00|
|Santenay Rouge ‘Clos des Hâtes’||2021||6||£ 128.00|
|Santenay Rouge ‘Les Charmes’||2021||6||£ 128.00|
|Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge ‘Les Plantes Momières’||2021||6||£ 160.00|
|Santenay 1er Cru Rouge ‘La Comme’||2021||6||£ 168.00|
|Santenay 1er Cru Rouge Clos Rousseau||2021||6||£ 168.00|
|Santenay 1er Cru Rouge Clos Rousseau ‘Les Fourneaux’||2021||6||£ 185.00|