Welcoming A. Bergere & Thierry Fournier to the CellarHand Family… 🥂
We are so excited to announce our two latest Champagne producers… A. Bergere and Thierry Fournier! We feel super privileged to work with around 100 or so family growers from near and far at CellarHand and hold each grower close to our hearts, having worked with many of them for going on 25 years. We’ve always had a deep interest in the thirst quenching and compellingly complex wines of Champagne & we’re delighted to introduce to you the latest newcomers to our portfolio.
Before working with a new grower, it is a non-negotiable at CellarHand that we must meet face to face, walk the vineyards, and more importantly drink some wine together before entering into a new relationship… which is exactly what we did! A flight to France and 3 jet-lagged CellarHanders later, those first impressions were cemented that these are some of the most exciting wines we’ve seen in a while. We’re honored to now say that we have Adrien Bergere and export manager/long-term friend Maxime Pierlot, as well as Julien Fournier and his partner Justine as part of the CellarHand family. A trip well-worth it if you ask us!
Roll on a few years and a few global catastrophise, whilst having dinner one evening in early 2023 with the wonderful Virginie Taupenot from esteemed Burgundy estate Domaine Taupenot-Merme, she causally asked if we were on the look out for any new growers to join the fold, as a close friend of hers from Champagne was currently making waves back in France and on the look out for a new partner to perhaps bring some wines down under (nothing like keeping it in the family eh….). An air freighted set of samples to Aus, a zoom tasting, and a flight to France later, we found ourselves catching up with Adrien and his trusty sidekick Maxime Pierlot (a long-term friend, Champagne native & export manager) in the sleepy village of Fèrebrianges in the Valle du Petit Morin in order to try to get to know the wines more.
The family make wine from some 45 Ha of estate owned vines, with 35 Ha in and around the villages of Fèrebrianges, Etoges and Congy in the Valle du Petit Morin southwest of Épernay. Not the most famous of areas in the region, it is the vineyards that do the talking here. Adrien also owns 5 Ha in the more famous Côtes des Blancs and a further 5 Ha in the Côtes de Sezanne to the south. Chardonnay makes up 70% of planting with 20% of Pinot Noir and 10% of Pinot Meunier in the mixer. The history of the estate follows that of many of the new wave of growers making waves in the region, with the family originally becoming growers in Fèrebrianges in 1848. After the end of the war, Albert Bergere founded the A.Bergere estate with the aim of promoting the local terroir. The following generations continued to add precious sites to the estate over the years before Adrien came to the fore in 2014 when his father was given the opportunity to add 14 Ha of vines to his holdings when his brother was looking to sell his vines. In coming back to the estate & with more vines under his watchful eye Adrien has been able to take things to a new level.
About Adrien Bergere…
It’s hard to believe this superstar is only 32 years old! Adrien looks to produce wines rippling with energy and tension that express the place in which they are grown. A high proportion of the wines are fermented in barrel and/or foudre and spend an extended time in cask (approximately 10 months) prior to going to bottle for the second fermentation and ageing on lees. Lees ageing is relatively short for some wines but thanks to the time in cask the wines already carry ample complexity and Adrien prefers to release the wines when they are tensile, fresh and moreish and always finishes his wines with minimal or zero dosage. These terroir driven elixirs are only going to get better as Adrien and the team continue to understand their terroir more and more as the years go on and Adrien is no doubt one of the brightest rising stars in the region and we are delighted to welcome the Champagne A.Bergere team to the CellarHand family.
Found in the western reaches of the Valle de la Marne in the Flagot Valley, Festigny is perhaps not the most recognised village in the region, but as with so many of the growers we are lucky to work with, this is a place where the vineyards do the talking. The history of the estate dates back to the 1930’s and to this day is 15ha of glorious vines, spread across 12 villages and a mind-boggling 45 different plots. Described by Champagne guru Peter Liem as ‘The Corton of Champagne’ the argilo-calcaire (clay over limestone) dominant slopes of Festingy also feature a high proportion of chalk which helps ensure the wines are rich and juicy as well as focused and energetic.
Pinot Meunier reigns supreme for the family making up 80% of their precious holdings, 50% of which are in and around the village of Festigny itself. Festigny has a hugely complex terroir, with the vineyards surrounding the village in a somewhat mushroom shape with multiple slopes, exposures and a mosaic of soil types – and it is this complex network of slopes, soils and microclimates that make Julien and Thierry tick. Standing with them in the vineyard is thrilling as they discuss and share stories about what makes each slope unique in what it brings to the final wines that the family produce.
About Julien Fournier…
The super charming Julien Fournier (5th generation) and his partner Justine are the driving force behind the domaine and are… wait for it… merely 26 and 22 years old respectively! What these young heads lack in age they make up for with an intimate understanding of not only the slopes and soils of Festingy, but of the region as a whole. Julien’s mother and father, Thierry and Murielle, are still very much involved in the multi-generational business. Justine grew up in Champagne, where her family are farmers, and already has extensive experience under belt having worked with Henri Giraud in Äy before embarking on an internship in Singapore where she eventually meet Julien. The rest, as they say is history…..or perhaps more accurately…the future!