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Originally founded in 1895, this fine biodynamic Champagne producer was the first to plant grafted Pinot Noir vines in the area post-phylloxera. In 1928 Fleury were the first grower in the Côtes de Bars region (Aube) to produce and bottle their own Champagne and in 1929 it was Robert Fleury who decided to make single-vintage Champagnes. Having taken over the reins of the setate in 1962, it was Jean-Pierre Fleury who became the first grower in Champagne to convert to biodynamics. A avid follower of alternative medicine and a lover of nature he began his quest to convert the entire estate to biodynamic viticulture. He began with just 3 hectares in 1989, then in 1992 the whole estate was converted, becoming the first Champagne producer to do so. Their vineyard holdings now total some 15 hectares. All are certified by Ecocert and accredited to Demeter. Based in Courtheron in the Aube (southern part of Champagne), all Fleury vineyards lie on chalky slopes on both sides of the Seine valley, 85% are planted with Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay and the rest with Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Soils are very similar to those found in Chablis. All vineyard work is done by hand and the ploughing is done by horse. Instead of chemical treatments, they use composting and natural “teas”. Quartz silica is sprayed on the vine leaves in order to reinforce the photosynthesis process. On the soil, preparations that favour the health of microbial life are applied, usually in spring and in autumn, and especially at specific cosmic moments determined by a planetary calendar. ‘The key is soil health’, says Jean-Sébastien. ‘We must keep the earth healthy. The structure of the soil gives back the essence of the terroir’. Three of Jean-Pierre’s children now work in the family business: Benoît, tending the vineyards and vines, Jean-Sébastien being responsible for all cellar work and Morgane, a qualified sommelier and consultant, in charge of the marketing and exports. In the cellar, all pressing is carried out using a traditional basket press with each parcel being pressed separately in order to allow more precise blending and, ultimately, complexity in the finished wine. Gravity instead of pumping is preferred in order to move the wine in a more gentle and natural way. Working with native yeasts and malolactic fermentation are also more natural, less-interventionist winemaking choices that are key to the Fleury philosophy. As a further nod to tradition and with the aim of adding more complexity, a percentage of the base wine is matured in traditional oak barrels.
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