Long lunching with Fourny & Fils

Sipping Fourny & Fils at Aria Restaurant on a gorgeous spring day was a delicious treat this week.

Ginger was lucky enough to be seated next to the guest of honour, Charles-Henry Fourny, a fifth generation champagne producer.

Charles is the eldest of two brothers who run Veuve Fourny & Fils, located in the premier cru village of Vertus in the Cote des Blancs.

Among the Champagne producer’s fans are wine writer’s Eric Asimov, Tim White, Tyson Stelzer and Max Allen.

As Asimov noted in The New York Times: “This small producer makes wonderfully interesting wines … Beautifully detailed Champagnes of great finesse.”

His Champagnes are imported into Australia by De Bortoli Family Winemakers and Charles pops Down Under every year or two to catch up with the De Bortoli family and promote the brand.

Leanne De Bortoli was travelling through the region 10 years ago, looking for a suitable brand to export to Australia, when she stumbled across Veuve Fourny & Fils and fell in love with its wines.

What began as a business arrangement has become much more over the years, as they share similar values when it comes to winemaking.

“We feel there is a real synergy between both companies. We both believe in owning your own piece of land, growing the business in a sustainable way,” De Bortoli explained.

The rest of the media pack didn’t stand a chance as Ginger enthusiastically discussed the 2018 vintage versus the 2017 and 2019 vintages with Charles: 2018 was a corker, 2017 was terrible, 2019 is a bit iffy, Fourny’s vineyard lost 30% of its grapes to extreme weather. The ones that were left were small but wonderful.

She’s vaguely up on the state of the Champagne harvest after working as a drinks journalist for the past three years, but had to fudge it once Charles moved on to terroir and how all the chalk in the soil affects the salinity of the grapes. Fortunately I’d appeared so knowledgeable up until that point that I could just smile enigmatically as he extolled.

Charles even invited Ginger to drop in next time she’s in his neck of the woods, before handing her an autographed bottle of his wine …

Ginger tried three different varietals at the lunch, but couldn’t tell me which one was her favourite, as they were all very nice and blurred together over the course of the afternoon.

But, according to her notes, the first one had a long “stay in mouth” and was very crisp, the second had a saline freshness and the third had a fruity finish, while its salinity – Charles says – makes it a good match for cheese and lobster.

Ginger also reports the food at Aria was extremely delicious, especially the bacon-wrapped wild kingfish.

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