Written by James Wells

De Bortoli Wines hosted key on-premise and off-premise trade accounts in Sydney to welcome Champagne grower Charles Fourny for his first visit since 2019.

Charles Fourny is one of two brothers behind Veuve Fourny & Fils Champagne distributed exclusively in Australia by De Bortoli Wines.

The trade tasting, held on a Sydney Harbour cruise, included the entire range of Fourny & Fils Champagne including the Rosé, Blancs de Blancs, Cuveé R, Grand Reserve Brut as well as a special tasting of the 2011 Vertus – representing the year the two businesses started their partnership.

During the cruise, Charles Fourny enetrtained the 100 guests recalling the story about the first meeting with the De Bortoli family in 2011 when Leanne De Bortoli and Steve Webber arrived unannounced at the vineyard and based on their detailed questions – were mistaken for journalists. Fourny soon realised who his visitors were as he was familiar with the De Bortoli name after tasting a wine a year earlier described by his Japanese distributor as the Château d’Yquem of Australia – De Bortoli’s Noble One.

Since this unexpected meeting, a strong bond has been formed by both families that has seen the Veuve Fourny & Fils Champagne distributed by De Bortoli to on-premise and off-premise accounts nationally, and also resulted in a number of visits from loyal trade accounts to the small artisan producer in the Côte des Blancs in the south of the Champagne region.

Fourny brought a sample of chalk from his vineyards to emphasise the source of the chalky minerality that creates a unique taste for his brand of Champagne. The chalky soil is so prevalent – visitors can sometimes mistake the chalk for snow on the ground of the vineyard. The East-facing vineyards create a very tight and citrus-forward Champagne.

Addressing the issue of climate change, Fourny said that despite this year’s vintage – held in early September – was one month earlier than traditionally and was also the hottest in the winery’s history at 37 degrees, he remained positive about the new-normal.

“We can see that 2011 was the first time we could see change in the vineyard. Now we have a new challenge – but a good challenge. We previously would add sugar or dosage – now we don’t have to worry about the acidity – as what is important for us is our unique minerality and mineral freshness.”

Fourny also shared his thoughts about the Prosecco battle currently taking place between the Australian and European governments.

“We speak about Shiraz – you can have Shiraz in Australia and in the Rhone valley, and a grape like Pinot Noir for example is grown around the world and in the Yarra Valley it will express the characters of the place and I think the issue with Prosecco is the same.”

After spending time in Victoria with the De Bortoli team in the Yarra Valley, Charles Fourny will continue his journey through Australia with final meetings in Sydney and then in Brisbane before returning to France after additional trade visits in Singapore.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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