I attended an excellent recent tasting at De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley of Veuve Fourny’s Champagne releases. My plan to be blend agreeably into the background met something of an obstacle when I found myself seated on a table with high profile wine writer Tyson Stelzer, first rate winemaker Steve Webber, proprietor Leanne De Bortoli and Charles Fourny from Veuve Fourny fresh from France. My impressions? De Bortoli are producing some quite seriously good wines in the Yarra Valley that may well be underrated, Veuve Fourny, a producer I already liked, produces high quality Champagne across the board and Tyson is doing something a bit interesting by offering a comprehensive Australian perspective on Champagne.
To the wines then. First, the Veuve Fourny Champagnes, each premier cru wines noting the Champagne peculiarity that premier crus affix to villages rather than vineyards. Vertus is a well-regarded premier cru located in the Côte de Blancs. The house style is fresh and elegant.
Veuve Fourny Grand Reserve Vertus Premier Cru NV
The Grand Reserve is a blend of 80% chardonnay and 20% pinot noir from vines with an average age of 40 years or more. There’s a certain class to this wine in the glass. Aromatics of toast and stones give a refined impression. The palate has racy acidity, a creamy mousse and a lovely balance to it. $65. Very Good
Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs Brut Vertus Premier Cru NV
The Blanc de Blancs (a 100% chardonnay) is also a delicious wine. More stone, bread and lemon characters than the blend, there is also a slight hint of parmesan. The palate carries similar flavours, a creamy mousse and has refreshing acidity. $65. Good to Very Good
Cuvée “R” de Veuve Fourny Vertus Extra Brut NV
The Cuvée “R” is an Extra Brut wine which sees 18 months on lees, 4 years in the cellar and is a 100% chardonnay. It is quite aromatic in the glass, with notes of nectarine, peach, bread and apricot florals. The palate is dry and quite flavoursome, with notes of stone framed by high acidity. There’s a lovely wine underneath here. $85. Very Good
Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs 2009
From the warm 2009 vintage, the Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs has aromatics of lemon, lemon rind, toast, brioche and minerals. The palate is dry with only 1-2 g/l of residual sugar, lemon characters and towards long length. The warmer year seems well balanced in the glass, with the acidity not falling away. Good to Very Good
Although this tasting was primarily to showcase Veuve Fourny’s releases, it would be remiss not to remark upon a couple of excellent wines served from much closer to home from the Yarra Valley.
De Bortoli Section A5 Chardonnay 2014
This is a single vineyard wine from chardonnay planted in 1976. It’s a delicate wine, full of interest. Its aromatics remind of struck match, lemon and stone. The palate has rather long length and is very balanced in its expressions of lemon and stone and good acidity. 12.7%abv. Very Good
De Bortoli PHI Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
This pinot noir got my attention, and proved an agreeable note to finish on. It’s from the increasingly sought after upper Yarra Valley and 2012 is an excellent year for pinot in the area. In the glass, I couldn’t help but think it would have fitted right in among the premier crus in my tastings in Burgundy in June. Bacon, cherry, a slight char and an expanding aroma. The palate has towards long length, and great balance with cherry flavours, gentle tannins and well handled acidity. $55. 13%abv. Very Good
Note: I attended this tasting as a guest of De Bortoli. Website: http://debortoli.com.au.