Julie Dufour is the third generation of her family to farm just four hectares of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Landreville in southern Champagne. After her first professional move to Paris, she returned to her home country about 10 years ago to produce her own champagne. She is actively supported by her brother Charles, who is well known among champagne lovers, and her mother Françoise Martinot.
But this is not the end of the family story, because her father Robert Dufour, who died at an early age, already produced his own fillings instead of selling the grapes to the big houses, as was customary at the time. After his death, the winery was continued by his wife, who immediately converted the small business to organic farming, and thus must be called a pioneer in the Champagne region. Of course, the vineyards are still cultivated organically and have been certified according to the French Agriculture Biologique standard since 2013.
The Côte des Bar has always been predominantly planted with Pinot Noir, which grows well on the local soils with their high content of Kimmeridge limestone. There is hardly any chalk left as subsoil in this region and Chablis is already in the immediate vicinity. This is another reason why the sparkling wines of the Dufours always have such a beautiful acidity and are always lively and full of character. They are virtually prime examples of the category of increasingly successful vintner's champagnes, which, in contrast to the cuvées of the big houses, are very independent year after year.
Julie Dufour is a member of the renowned Assocation des Champagnes Biologiques. She fills just about 6,000 bottles of champagne a year: her first Cléobuline, for one, and the Binôme, a joint project with her brother Charles.
Cléobuline is made from 70% Pinot, 30% Chardonnay and has a dosage of 3g/l. It is aged partly in old wood and partly in steel. This is the more classic of the two cuvées. Slightly smoky-herbaceous attack, nicely dry with very elegant acidity. If you didn't know, you would assume zero dosage. Mineral and creamy with fine stone fruit and yeast or brioche, medium length.
Binôme also consists of 70% Pinot, 30% Chardonnay and is Brut Nature. The special feature here is the blend with a Chardonnay from a single vineyard of Julie, which was left on its skins for a year in large glass balloons, the so-called Dame Jeannes. This provides additional extract, grip and complexity. In the glass, really fine and nuanced, balanced and yet with tension between acidity and fruit, complex melting with good length.