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Charles Dufour is an exceptionally talented and hardworking winemaker – I like to refer to him as “the Selosse of the Aube”. He owns 6 hectares of vineyards in Landreville, Essoyes and Celles-sur-Ource. Charles works in the vineyard, does vinification and takes care of the marketing as well. Quite a character! His wines are contemporary and a perfect fit to the gastronomic scene of today. No wonder that restaurant Noma presents Dufour as their house champagne. I was fortunate to know the champagne of his father Yves years before the grand success of Charles.
Since 2013, Charles has been working completely organically without the limitations of the biodynamic methods. He uses special herbal teas to protect the vineyard from diseases and to reduce the usage of copper. Dosage is always restricted to a minimum, only wild indigenous yeasts are used, there is no fining, no filtering and no added sulphur. The wines are practically vins naturels. Most of his wines have a long elevation on old Burgundy barrels from tonnelerie Vicard or large foudres. The bottles rest sur pointe – with the bottle upside down – before disgorgement.
The flagship wine “Bulles de Comptoir” looks like a champagne for hipsters with its trendy label of a guy with a tattoo or minimalist dots but when you taste it you will be amazed by the complexity and certainly the eccentric personality. It has become a true collectable so you have to be fast to buy the new releases. The latest version is “C’est Jolie!” and is very juteux, sappy with a lovely aromatic complexity. It’s hard to dislike this wine. Face B “rosexpress 14” is the rosé wine from this series. It is very bold and robust and doesn’t quite fit into the style.
Les Instantanées series are wines that give instant pleasure. La pulpe et le grain is a trio of champagnes made of the solar year 2009. I have only tasted "part.2" and it impressed me a lot. BistrØtage is the expression of one harvest with the addition of reserve wines (some going back to 1988). It is a wine that reminds me somehow of an early disgorged Selosse Contraste with deep and vinous Pinot Noir, a rustic character and a lot of tension on the palate. The big difference is in the blend, with Chardonnay and a little bit of Pinot Blanc added. This wine is made to be paired with food. BistrØtage 2008 is an absolute masterpiece. Super 4 is a Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay from Landreville with reserve wines from 2000 all the way to 1988 giving that lovely aromatic richness of old reserve Grand Marnier. La Sauvage is another Blanc de Blancs made of 100% Chardonnay also from Landreville. I had the privilege to taste a spectacular 2006 and could take the bottle with me to our B&B to enjoy it in the garden. It is breathtakingly deep, complex, vinous, Burgundian and wild!
In the Aube growers are increasingly aware of the advantages and certainly the quality of Pinot Blanc. I have been pleasantly surprised by the wines of Pierre Gerbais, Piollot, François Diligent and certainly Cédric Bouchard. Charles’ father, Yves, used to make a lovely cuvée named Ligne 79 with vintage 1999 Pinot Blanc. I had tasted this 7 years ago but unfortunately I can’t find my tasting notes. Charles his Le Champs du Clos is an interesting example of what this grape variety has to offer. The 2014 is of course very young and profits from getting a lot of air. I might even recommend decanting it.
Charles is one of the few growers that I know - besides Doyard, Drouilly, Launois, Jean Vesselle, Joël Michel - to make an Oeil de Perdrix (literally partridge eye). This old-school rosé got his name because of the special grayish pink color. His Le Corroy 2014 is undoubtedly the most complex one that I have tasted. It’s an amalgam of red fruits, floral with a perfectly balanced bitterness. It offers lots of gastronomical pairing possibilities.
There are two other single-parcel wines: La Chevêtrée with Chardonnay and Le Haut de la Guignelle with Pinot Noir. Unfortunately those wines are all reserved for Scandinavian market.