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The wines of Champagne Fleury

Website: www.champagne-fleury.fr

‘We were the first Champagne producers using biodynamics’, claims Jean-Sébastien Fleury (above), who presented his wines to me at a tasting in London. Champagne Fleury was founded by his great-grandfather in 1895, and it’s located in the Côtes de Bar, in the south of the Champagne region. In 1929, during the depression, grape prices were so low that Robert Fleury decided to take the then unusual step of bottling his own Champagne.

Champagne Fleury’s comversion to biodynamics was at the hands of Jean-Sébastien’s father, Jean-Pierre. His interest in sustainable wine growing began in the 1970s when he tried using manual tilling (as opposed to herbicides) and composting (as opposed to synthetic fertilizers). He began a trial with biodynamics, applying it to just 3 ha, in 1989 and then in 1992 used it across the whole of his vineyard holdings.

All 15 hectares that Fleury own (90% of which is Pinot Noir) are cultivated using biodynamics, which makes them the largest biodynamic producer in the entire Champagne region. Recently, two colleagues in the same village of Courteron were so impressed by the benefits that they have also switched, bringing the total to some 30 hectares in this village. Overall in Champagne, Jean-Sébastien reckons there are 8 or 9 growing doing biodynamics and a further 12 doing organics. It's a challenge, because this is a region that experiences high disease pressure.

‘The key is soil health’, he says. ‘We must keep the earth healthy. The structure of the soil gives back the essence of the terroir’.

These Champagnes really impressed. They’re available in the UK from organic specialists Vintage Roots (www.vintageroots.co.uk) and their prices are in brackets where applicable.

Champagne Fleury Carte Rouge NV
100% Pinot Noir.
Very warm, rich nose with some honeyed, nutty character. Broad but still fresh with a berryish sort of quality. The palate is broad and focused with a herby, nutty richness and a buiscuitty quality, as well as great acidity. 92/100 (£22.99)

Champagne Jean-Pierre Fleury NV 
75% Pinot Noir, with a lower dosage.
Lovely aromatics here : warm and nutty with a fresh herby quality, too, as well as some citrus notes. The palate is lively and bracing with high acidity, nice freshness and some toasty depth. Crisp and fresh. 91/100 (£27.99)

Champagne Fleury Rosé Brut NV
A saignée wine.
Focused, tight and fresh with high acidity, nice savouriness and a hint of strawberry fruit. 89/100 (£33)

Champagne Fleury Cuvée Robert Fleury 2000
One third each Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, vinified in used barriques. Complex broad herby nose is quite vinous with a lemony freshness. The palate has an unusual broad, nutty, herby character (£36)

Champagne Fleury Vintage Extra Brut 2005
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, with a dosage of just 5 g. Deep yellow in colour. Broad nose with complex nutty, toasty notes together with smooth herbal fruit. The palate is explosive with high acidity and broad, complex, slightly herby, toasty, savoury fruit. A remarkable wine with real breadth, and which still needs lots of time. Very assertive. 93/100

Champagne Fleury Vintage Brut 2005
Very similar to the Extra Brut. Broad, nutty, toasty, herby nose. The palate is bold with high acidity and savoury, toasty fruit, but a bit more richness. The acidity sticks out less. A bold, intense, savoury wine but you could drink this now. 92/100 (£49)

Champagne Fleury Vintage Brut 2006
Lovely balanced, focused, tight fruit. Elegant and bright, with some aromatic toasty richness on the nose, and fresh citrussy notes on the palate as well as high acidity. A bright, citrussy wine with real elegance. 94/100 (£46)

Champagne Fleury Vintage Doux 2005
This has 53 g/l sugar. Rounded, smooth, herbal nose with some toasty notes. The palate has really high acidity offsetting the sweetness. Smooth and rounded with great length. 92/100

Champagne Fleury Vintage Brut 1990
100% Pinot Noir
. Deep yellow colour. Broad, deep, fresh nose with nice nutty depth and some citrussy freshness. The palate is broad and deep with lovely focus and intensity. Really bold and full but beautifully balanced: a fantastic effort. 94/100

Wines tasted 03/08

And also an older note:

Champagne Fleury Vintage Brut 1996
A yellow/gold colour, this has a sensational nose: it's complex and full, with notes of honey, baked apples, lemons, toast and pastry. The palate is concentrated with powerful flavours of lemon, herbs and toast. It's a rich style, with lots of impact, but kept fresh by piercing acidity. A really super effort - worth the relatively high asking price. Beginning to drink well now, but with this level of acidity it isn't going to fall apart any time soon. 94/100 (£38 Vintage Roots)  11/07

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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