Emmanuel and Charles-Henry Fourny, a perfect understanding

Feb 19, 2021 • 3 mins

The Fourny brothers understand each other perfectly and this has enabled them to successfully restructure and develop the family business. Today, they proudly represent the 5th generation.

Wine and inheritance, the two do not usually make good bedfellows, and Champagne, a region where land prices have never been higher (1,617,000 €/ha in the Côte des Blancs) is no exception. At a time when families are tearing themselves apart with everyone trying to grab their share of the inheritance, the Fourny family prefers unity.

"In 1980, after the death of our father, our mother decided to keep the domaine going" Charles-Henry, the eldest of the siblings, tells us.

Growing up, the brothers were not sure that they wanted to take over the domaine. It was Emmanuel who was the first to train as a winemaker. His work would take him to Burgundy (Mestre-Michelot) and Virginia (United States): "I had the chance to build up a winery from scratch," he recalls with a smile. As the winery belonged to a wealthy American lady who preferred to store the wine rather than sell it, the adventure was short-lived. The vineyard was sold a few years later to a certain Eric Trump, son of the famous former US president. 

Meanwhile, back in Vertus in the Champagne region, Charles-Henry had been running the family champagne business single-handedly, as best he could.

In the end, the brothers joined forces in 1995, two years after the domaine was taken over. The roles were assigned between the two siblings quite naturally. Emmanuel is constantly out in the vineyards with his team observing and managing the vines and, in the cellar, tasting and analysing the wines. While Charles-Henry, a great Vertus expert, handles the commercial side of the business. "Every month, I drive to Paris to deliver the wine to my wine store customers, which allows me to stay in touch with them, which is essential during this difficult time".

Charles-Henry and Emmanuel wish to portray Veuve-Fourny as having an eye for detail. From the outset, they wanted to understand and highlight the various expressions of the champagnes from Vertus. "People tend to think that the Côte des Blancs is all about Chardonnay, but in Vertus we have excellent Pinot grapes that deserve to be highlighted".

"In 2011, after carefully planning our strategy, we decided to build a new vat room," says Charles-Henry. This is a remarkable facility on a par with the family's ambitions. Thanks to their foudres and a few barrels, they have been able to carefully work the grapes and wines from each plot of vines separately. The Premier and Grand Crus are therefore segregated until they are blended together according to the champagnes being crafted.

Are the two brothers going to succumb to the fashion for still wines? Charles-Henry is keen on a red Coteaux Champenois. But Emmanuel is more reticent, but there is no doubt that the elder will get his way, as the quality is excellent!

Favourite wine tasted :

Champagne Veuve-Fourny, "Grande Réserve" Brut

A blend of the finest Premier and Grand Cru terroirs (Chouilly, Cramant, Cuis, Vertus), this champagne contains between 40 and 50% reserve wines (aged in barrels), a majority of Chardonnay (80%) and the remainder Pinot Noir. The expressive and complex nose with hints of undergrowth is followed by a very finely-structured palate. The modest amount of Pinot Noir brings just the right degree of lusciousness. A real treat.