Veuve Fourny has always been our most popular ‘grower’ Champagne and having stocked the non-vintage since opening we have become very fond of the wines. Last month Simon and I were treated to a fantastic cellar visit and spectacular tasting at the Domaine.
“Grower” Champagnes are sparkling wines made in the Champagne region where the grower also produces the end wine. They are smaller than the Grand Marques Champagne houses such as Moët or Veuve Cliquot and I think offer real variety, sense of place and value.
Veuve Fourny is based in the small village of Vertus just a ten minute drive south of Epernay. This is a small sleepy village but well known for its exceptional grower Champagne houses including Veuve Fourny. The village is also known for making Champagnes that are predominantly Chardonnay due to the specific soil composition (soft chalk) and south to south east facing slopes.
Veuve Fourny owns 12 hectares (30 acres) of Premier Cru (Pinot Noir) and Grand Cru (Chardonnay) vineyards. The Champagne house is in its fifth generation of the family and they produce 8 different cuvées reflecting the vineyards of the Cote des Blancs.
The Champagnes all have low dosage/zero dosage (dosage being the process of adding sugar to a champagne) with the Brut 1er Cru less than 6g and the Extra Brut less the 3g. They are able to keep the dosage so low, due to the old age of the vines and late date of harvesting.
Old Burgundy barrels are used for fermenting some of the wines (around 20% for the Blanc de Blanc), but this is not to influence the final product at all. Only the first press of the grapes is used and the wine is allowed a very slow fermentation which all leads to finer, creamier bubbles with the second and third press wine being sold to larger Champagne houses.
After a thorough tour of the cellar we were treated to a tasting of the full range of Champagnes.
Veuve Fourny Brut 1er Cru, NV £30 BUY NOW!
2013 base with 2011, 2012, 2010 reserve wines. The wine has a creamy mousse with notes of green apple and a wonderful minerality, the finish is long and elegant.
Veuve Fourny Brut Nature, NV
This is the zero dosage cuvée and it has 2g natural sugar. The grapes come from a south facing (warmer) vineyard. 2013 base. This has a delicate fizz, bursting with citrus fruit and finishes dry and mineral.
Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blanc 2011
From a single vineyard on the Monte de Vertus at the top of the slope. The Champagne had a rich, deep and complex nose. Riper apple notes and a delicious creamy mousse.
Veuve Fourny Rosé Brut 1er Cru £35 BUY NOW!
Made up of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir is 15% red wine that has aged in oak barrels and 35% Blanc de Noir (the white juice of the Pinot Noir). 2013 base. The wine is a delicate pink colour with fine bubbles. On the nose raspberry fruit which comes through on the delicate palate it also has lovely soft berry fruit and makes as a lovely aperitif.
Veuve Fourny Rosé Vinoteque 2011 (new release)
Made in the same way as above, this is Extra Brut, but still generous with wild strawberry fruit as well as soft red berries. The finish is long and mineral.
Veuve Fourny Clos Fauborg Notre Dame, 2007
From the single vineyard around the house, zero dosage. Exceptional! Round and generous despite no dosage, apple and brioche on the nose and a creamy, complex palate, will age for years to come!
Veuve Fourny Cuvée ‘R’ Extra Brut, NV BUY NOW!
Named in remembrance of Roger Fourny, Charles’s late father. This is a blend of 2012 and 2011 from vines grown on pure chalk soil. The wines are aged in oak barrel and the wine is released 4 years after the second fermentation. This is mainly Chardonnay but in some years a touch of Pinot Noir is added. This is the fullest in style of the Veuve Fourny range with honey and a touch of cinnamon. Given the low (3g) dosage the Champagne is rich, expressive and would match well to hard cheese or foie gras.
This was an absolutely fantastic visit to such an exceptional grower and we felt privileged to taste the full range especially as some of the top cuvées are made in such small quantities. These Champagnes really reflect the terroir of the Cote des Blancs and are a great example of the quality of the smaller grower Champagne houses.