I caught up with Ms Morgane Fleury (of the Champagne House Fleury Père Et Fils) in Toronto, Ontario on November 13, 2009 to discuss their Biodynamic Champagne House.
Biodynamism is becoming more acceptable in the wine community. The underlying principles are extremely unusual with its quasi-mystical approach, blended with esoteric philosophy of life forces and planetary influences.
Fleury Père Et Fils vineyards are located on steep calcareous clay slopes, both sides of the Seine Valley, in the region of Côtes de Bar. Of the 15 hectares 90% are Pinot Noir and the remaining 10% are Chardonnay. All 15 hectares are cultivated using biodynamics. Fleury Père Et Fils have been biodynamic since 1989, and have for many years had a reputation for innovation. Champagne Fleury’s conversion to biodynamics was at the hands of Morgane Fleury’s and Jean-Sébastien’s father, Jean-Pierre. His interest in sustainable wine growing began in the 1970s when he used manual tilling (not herbicides) and composting (not chemical fertilizers). He began trials with biodynamics, applying only to 3 Ha, in 1989, and then in 1992 used it on the remainder of his vineyard holdings.
Jean-Pierre Fleury was the first grower in Champagne to convert to biodynamic farming.
How much of the underlying biodynamic agriculture does Fleury Père Et Fils adhere to?
All of them – we all work together and also work with two other local growers. For instance, we’ve started working with horses over 20 years ago and have been working with essential oils to fight mildew.
Since adopting biodynamic principles, have the quality of your Champagnes improved?
We are very pleased – The key is soil health. We are working to keep it constantly healthy. The structure of the soil gives back the essence of the terroir.
Do you think that the more esoteric aspects of biodynamism are absolutely necessary, i.e., the ashing and timing interventions on the basis of the alignment of planets)?
We now find that our Champagne has more fruitiness and more terrior in the nose and pallet.
Some of the principles of biodynamism appear odd. How do you respond to critics who suggest this?
We ask them to think differently, to read and to do some research. One of the most controversial preparations …my brother Jean-Sébastien uses is (preparation #501) 2X per year for energy.
Field Preparation 501
• Crushed powdered quartz prepared by stuffing it into a horn of a cow and buried into the ground in spring and taken out in the fall (mixture of 1 tablespoon of quartz powder to 250 liters of water). The mixture is sprayed under very low pressure over the crop during the wet season, in an attempt to prevent fungal diseases. It should be sprayed on an overcast day or early in the morning to prevent burning of the leaves.
What is your favorite Champagne?
’95 Fleury “Cuveé Robert Fleury” Brut Champagne – its pure pinot with more minerality and less dosage. It was the first vintage we made that was biodynamic.
What was your Champagne moment for 2009 ?
I have two champagne moments:
1. After the harvest – we celebrated! Our harvest was from Sept 6th to 26th – the weather was perfect, with no rain), and
2. The opening of my Champagne and Wine store “Ma Cave Fleury” in Paris.
What are the favorite foods that you pair with Champagne?
My favorite: Raspberry cake with Rosé Champagne, also
Vanilla cream pastries
Do you have any champagne recipes that you can share with me for my book?
I will send you some when I get back to Paris – some of our family recipes.
I am in the process of working with some scientists on health benefits of Champagne – do you have anything to add?
I believe champagne cures depression for the elderly.
Wine and Travel Writer