Meet Charles Dufour, a Champagne vigneron in the Vallée de l’Ours in the Aube Department in Southern Champagne! After studying winemaking in Beaune, Burgundy (with none other than Christian Knott of Domaine Dandelion!), he returned home in 2010 to his family’s domain, Robert Dufour et Fils.
His father, Yves (Robert’s fils) was ready to retire, so he split his vineyards between Charles and his sister, Julie – 6 hectares each.
Yves had already been transitioning his vines to organic since 2006, so they were fully organic by 2010, when Charles produced his first vintage of Champagne, called Bulles de Comptoir #1. Literally translated as “Bar Bubbles #1,” it’s meant to be a bottle that you can drink at the bar (or wherever you want).
He sold his first bottles to Aux Crieurs du Vin, a restaurant/retail shop pioneer in the natural wine world, in Troyes, just down the road.
From there, Bulles took off, and he makes a numbered cuvee every year, composed of a base vintage and a growing proportion of reserve wine from the multi-vintage vin de réserve that he started in 2010. Today, when it’s available, you’ll find Bulles in Bar Brutal in Barcelona, Noma and Den Vandrette in Coopenhagen, and Verre Voléin Paris (among many other addresses throughout Europe).
Back in 2010, Charles’ mother, Françoise Martinot wasn’t ready for retirement. She wanted to hang onto the Pinot Noir vines that she planted in the ‘70s and ‘80s in the Vallée de l’Arce, one valley over from Yves, which she also transitioned to organic in 2006.
Previously, Françoise had sold most of her fruit (as most growers in Champagne do), so Charles offered to make a cuvee for her. His mother agreed to let him, as long as he made them in her style – vinous with less bubbles, which meant extended aging both as a still wine and after on its lees.
In 2019, Charles released the first wine from their venture, called Bistrøtage B.10, based on the 2010 vintage, and disgorged in the spring of 2019. Going forward, he will release one unique Bistrøtage per vintage (weather and yields cooperating).
Charles’ wines reflect his artistic soul – he finds the abstract in the mundane. He’s hyper inquisitive – in life, the cellar, his glass – and likewise, each of his Champagnes seems to pose a new question rather than ever offer a final answer. He’s also honest to a fault (the best kind of honesty), which breeds a quirky perfectionism in his wines.