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27 avril 2016 3 27 /04 /avril /2016 14:44

Terrible start to the season - three nights of below 0° temps, and one more predicted for the day after tomorrow. Ever wonder why champagne is so expensive? Because it's very difficult to grow grapes in this climate, though the resulting champagne can be awesome if we manage to bypass all the risks involved : late spring frost; coulure" (loss of fruit) and "millerandage" (incomplete development of the bunch) during the flowering; various diseases such as mildew, botrytis or oïdium; and damage from hailstorms in the summer, to name a few.

Although there is much we can do to fight these threats, there's not much we can do about freezing. Some winegrowers used to heat the vineyards with oil pots, but that is neither an economical nor ecological solution, so it is now quite rarely seen. One method used here are rapidly rotating sprinklers which provide a constant supply of liquid water to coat the grapevine buds and shoots. The continuously freezing water releases heat and raises the temperature of grapevine tissues.

Because a large volume of water is needed, the vineyards must be located near a water source, so unfortunaly for us this is not an option. Also, the system uses heavy gasoline fueled motors, so you really can't say it is ecological...

Here are some pictures I took this morning :

Baby it's cold outside...
Baby it's cold outside...
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16 février 2016 2 16 /02 /février /2016 13:20
The Renoir connection
The Renoir connection
The Renoir connection
The Renoir connection

"Arrivés à Troyes par l'express de Paris ils attendent généralement un second train pour joindre enfin la gare de Polisot où, le cheval "coco", Fluteau le cousin, Clément et son fils viendront les attendre tous les débuts juillet"

Ever since I read this excerpt from the book "Renoir à Essoyes" by Fabienne Dubois, which describes how "cousin Fluteau" would come collect the Renoir family at the train station to take them to their summer home in Essoyes, I’ve been curious to know exactly what the family connection was to Renoir. Well, last weekend I met up with a distant cousin, who had inherited her family’s archives and had spent considerable time researching the family tree. Thus I learned of Gustave Fluteau, the brother of Thierry’s great grandfather, who owned and operated a café in the Town of Essoyes, about 10 kms from our village.

Gustave was the elder brother in a family of 4 children. His father owned the “Hotel des Voyageurs “ here in Gyé, so I suppose it was quite natural that Gustave would embrace the same profession. (later, his brother Henri, Thierry’s great-grandfather would take over the hotel in Gyé) However, as was the case for many in those days, he was always searching for opportunities to diversify, and so in addition to running the local café with his wife Marthe Armedey (a native of Essoyes), he would provide transportation to and from the train station, about 15 kms away. In the absence of any kind of phone system in this rural corner of France, people would send quick notes written on postcards. The Renoirs, who by that time owned a summer home and workshop in Essoyes, would send word to Gustave via the post, to let him know their time and date of arrival, and ask him to collect them.

So I would guess it was more a customer relationship than familial, but I still like to think of Gustave offering the Renoirs a bottle of Champagne Fluteau as a welcome gift. The only problem is that at the time of the Renoirs, champagne was yet to be produced in the Aube, and the beverage made from the vines there was little more than cheap wine destined for the tables of Parisian workers.

If you are interested to learn more about Renoir’s life in Essoyes, you can find out more here

Or better yet, come for a visit!


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2 octobre 2014 4 02 /10 /octobre /2014 07:34


georgeYes, I'll admit, I'm green with envy that George Clooney chose another champagne for his wedding !  I will concede that if he had to choose something other than Champagne Fluteau, he at least went with another Vigneron Indépendant (owner-grower). The story is quite amazing and there are some similitudes with ourselves. This wine grower, whose vineyards are also in a lesser known area of champagne (called the "Aisne" - our area is the "Aube" - both outside of the better known "Marne" region) produces a prestige champagne with 50% pinot/50% chardonnay, like our own Cuvée Symbiose. So why didn't the Clooneys pick our champagne? Apparently, this wine grower has a very good customer in London who happens to be a a good friend of Ms Amal Alamuddin and recommended the champagne to the soon to be married couple for their wedding, and voila !

So while we wait for our lucky break, hats off to Mr Clooney and his wife for going against the grain and serving an unknown, and I'm sure excellent, champagne at their wedding. I hope this gave some ideas to some of their illustrious guests (are you listening Cindy, Bono, Matt and Bill.....?)

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25 septembre 2014 4 25 /09 /septembre /2014 09:29

Just finished harvesting and we're super happy with the result : great grapes, ripe and excellent quality. Can't wait to see how the wines turn out !


I was recently asked why we do all the grape picking by hand in champagne.


First of all, you need to be aware that champagne is an "appellation controlée" which means that all producers must adhere to guidelines which regulate how champagne can be produced. These guidelines are very strict and do not necessarily make our lives easier, but are meant to assure a certain level of quality for the consumer.

One of these rules is that ALL grapes in champagne are harvested manually.

Why is this? The main reason is because we do whole cluster pressing in Champagne. We want to pick the grape bunches on the stem. A harvesting machine works by shaking the vine and collecting the berries which have fallen off their stems. This rather rough process breaks the skin of the berries, not a big problem if you are making red wine, but definitely not what we want in champagne. To obtain the delicate aromas in champagne, it is essential to avoid any contact with the skin because that can result in hard, bitter (phenolic) caracters in the wine. Some "material other than grape" (i.e. leaves, shoots or the odd lizard...) may be collected along the way, which for obvious reasons we don't want to either. Keep in mind also that we make white wine out of black grapes (in our case, pinot noir) and in order to do this, we have to be sure that none of the coloring agents from the grape skins taint the wine.


However, I won't say that I have never dreamed of an automated grape picker. The reality is that it can be a very stressful period because our team of 2 full time employees suddenly grows to more than 30 over a 10 day period.  Finding such a huge supply of labor is difficult, and there are inherent problems in managing so many people. Not to mention the cost. Each grape picker earns at least the minimum wage of 9,53€ per hour, to which is added a 10% vacation benefit, and 10% for temporary contract, which brings us to 11,53€ per hour, not including any overtime. On top of that, the employer pays another 43% of social charges to the goverment. So the overall average cost is somewhere between 4-5000€ per hectare!


Although some noise has been made about allowing mechanical harvesting in champagne, I doubt that day will come soon. The machine doesn't carry with it a very romantic image, and that is also an important componant of champagne!

machinevendanges 2010 024

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7 janvier 2014 2 07 /01 /janvier /2014 15:51

Best wishes for a very happy new year full of fun and surprises and lots of champagne!

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to write more on this blog.........and after receiving a message from an English speaking customer, I've found my first subject !

Here is the text I received from Elisabeth :

" We are drinking Fluteau and wondering what Earl means? Please can you let us know? Happy New Year"

I've actually been asked that question before. Much as I would like to say that the Fluteau family descends from nobility, I have to be honest and explain what the term "EARL" means in French. It's an acronym which stands for "Entreprise Agricole à Responsabilité Limitée". It is similar to "Inc" or "Ltd" in English. So unfortunately I can not lay claim to any aristrocratic or imperial ancesters.

 Meilleurs Voeux pour une nouvelle année pleine de joie et du champagne !

Une de mes résolutions pour 2014 est d'écrire un peu plus souvent dans ce blog.....et après avoir reçu un message d'un client anglais, j'ai trouvé mon premier sujet :

Une cliente anglophone, Elisabeth, m'écrit pour me demander le sens de la terme "EARL". En effet, je comprends sa question, car en Anglais un "Earl" veut dire "Comte"! Malheureusement, je doit avouer que la famille Fluteau n'a pas de sang noble. Il y en a bien eu des Comtes en Champagne mais nous n'en faisons pas (encore) parti de l'aristocracie !


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11 octobre 2013 5 11 /10 /octobre /2013 09:26

 "Ouf" ! (that's a sigh of relief in French). I'm so glad we've finished harvesting as of October 5th. The indian summer days of September have given way to clouds, rain and cold and I pity the workers who are still out there picking grapes. 

This was a very unusual season for us. The cold wet spring weather that lasted until the end of June really slowed down the vegetation, and as a result the harvest was predicted to start early October. However, the hot and relatively dry summer months of July and August meant that the grapes had a chance to develop. That was somewhat compromised when we had a week of rain in September. The "official" opening dates of the harvest were published on September 21st, and the starting date for our village was Thursday the 26th. Thierry had to make a quick decision : should he pick the grapes early when they were still in good condition, at the risk of them not being ripe enough? Or should he wait for them to ripen more and risk further degradation? He decided to start picking on Friday the 27th, and we were amazed at how fast the ripening had progressed, and also how fast the first signs of botrytis were progressing! Hindsight is always 20/20, and perhaps we could have started a couple of days earlier, but we're happy we did not wait until October!


"phew" ! (c'est un soupir de soulagement en anglais) Nous sommes très heureux d'avoir fini de vendanger le 5 octobre, car l'été indien a disparu et a laissé place à la pluie, la grisaille et le froid. Il y a encore quelques confrères qui n'ont pas terminé de rentrer leur récolte, et nous compatissons !


Cette saison était assez particulière dans le sud de la champagne. Le printemps froid et pluvieux a retardé la vegetation considérablement. Le dicton dit qu'on compte 100 jours après la fleur pour savoir la date du début des vendanges. Logiquement, puisque la floraison s'est passé début juillet, on aurait dû vendanger la deuxième semaine d'octobre ! Heureusement que les conditions estivales de juillet et aout ont aidé la vigne a ratrappé son retard. La date du début de vendanges était fixé dans notre village pour le 26 septembre. Thierry hésitait encore car il craignait que les raisins n'avaient pas encore atteint leur maturation optimum, mais finalement il a décidé de commencer dès le vendredi 27 car les conditions sanitaires se dégradaient rapidement. Il n'a pas regretté sa décision, car finalement la maturité était au rendez-vous, et les raisins étaient encore en bon état. Bien qu'avec le recul, c'est toujours facile, mais on pense avoir pris la bonne décision !

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22 mai 2013 3 22 /05 /mai /2013 14:34




Nature never lets us forget that so much of our livelihood depends on her whims! Winter and spring in France have been unusually cold, gray and wet this year. We breathed a sigh of relief last weekend and congratulated ourselves for getting through the period called "Saints de Glace" without any spring frosts....... and now we have the above weather forecast to fret over. As you can see, Thursday night the temps will be hovering at 0° which can mean -2-3° in the vineyards. And here I was thinking that global warming would put us out of harms way...


Dame Nature ne nous laisse pas oublier que c'est elle qui détermine notre futur récolte ! Comme vous n'êtes pas sans  savoir, l'hiver et le printemps ont été exceptionnellement gris, froid et humide cette année. Nous nous sommes félicité d'avoir traversé la traditionnelle période de Saints de Glace sans gelées....mais les prévisions météolorgiques nous jouent un sale tour pour la nuit de jeudi à vendredi avec les températures autour de 0°, ce qui veut dire -2° à -3° dans les vignes. Et je pensais que le réchauffement climatique nous épargnerait des gelées de printemps....

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13 avril 2013 6 13 /04 /avril /2013 13:09

Nous sommes actuellement au Salon des Vins à Oyannax dans l'Ain ou les visiteurs se font rares......comme preuve, voici des photos prises à 15h samedi montrant les allées vides. Pendant qu'on est coincé ici, un grand soleil brille généreusement dehors et les clients onts sûrement décidé d'en profiter après ce long hiver........on ne peut pas leur en vouloir, car nous  aurions fait sans doute le même choix... !


Thierry and I are participating in a wine fair this weekend trying to sell our wares in a small city in southeastern France called "Oyannax". The place is depressingly EMPTY, as you can see from the photos I took at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The sun is shining brightly outside while we are stuck in here, and I'm sure even the most avid wine lover would rather be outside soaking up some rays after our long, cold, wet winter......I know I would !  

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12 avril 2013 5 12 /04 /avril /2013 15:15

      Les champenois ont eu l'honneur d'accueillir le congrès des Rencontres des Vignerons Indépendants de France cette semaine du 10 au 12 avril, sur le thème de l'export. De belles perspectives pour les vins francais sur les marchés export....pour ceux et celles qui savent s'imposer et saisir des opportunités tout en déjouant quelques pièges.....

       Sur la photo en bas à gauche, Michel Loriot, président de la féderation champagne, avec Michel Issaly, président National à ses cotés. Quelques témoinages d'expériences nous ont été livrés par Maxime Blin (champagne) et un jeune vigneron  du Cahors (photo de droite). Bravo à toute l'équipe des organisateurs !    




     The annual Independant Winegrowers of France conference was held in Epernay this week. The theme was Exporting and numerous guest speakers intervened with interesting information.  In the photo on the left, Michel Loriot, president of  our local champagne section welcomes participants (Michel Issaly, on his left, is the predident of the National Organsiation) I'm just a vice president, so no one asked me to give a speech.......in French OR English!

    In the photo above on the right, you can see Maxime Blin (a champagne producer) and another young winegrower from cahors telling the audience about their experiences as new exporters.


 DSC04407    DSC04408.JPG


Karla et ses balons !                     Fleurs en attentre de tables !

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13 novembre 2012 2 13 /11 /novembre /2012 15:46

During our 2010 bottling, I encouraged Thierry to start producing in 3 liter bottles, called "Jéroboam", the equivalent of four normal sized bottles.  We'd never ventured into larger formats, because for one thing, absolutely all the work has to be done manually, from bottling to labeling, not to mention the turning ("remuage"), disgorging and corking also all done by hand. Even finding a printer to print up a small quantity in the right format with a decent quality paper is difficult. But we're happy to announce that the first bottles are now available ! However, I was chewed out by a (very) irate customer who was not happy about the price, which he pointed out is 50% more than the price of one bottle multiplied by 4. I explained about all the manual work involved, adding that the bottle alone is 20 times the price of a 75cl bottle, and the individual wooden gift box is more expensive too. Ofcourse if you have a dozen guests, four  bottles of champagne will go around fine, but if you are celebrating a once in a lifetime event, a Jéroboam can be just the thing you need to really memorialize the special moment !

Below is a family photo : starting from right to left: Half bottle (0,375l) Bottle (0,75l) Magnum (1,50 l) and Jéroboam :

gamme 013

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  • Jennifer Fluteau
  • Originaire de Chicago, je vis et travaille avec mon mari Thierry dans notre domaine en Champagne

_Originally from Chicago, I now live in Champagne and work with my husband Thierry in our vineyards and cellar.
  • Originaire de Chicago, je vis et travaille avec mon mari Thierry dans notre domaine en Champagne _Originally from Chicago, I now live in Champagne and work with my husband Thierry in our vineyards and cellar.