CHAMPAGNE FRANCIS BOULARD & FILLE | A Garden of Vines

Visiting Champagne Francis Boulard & Fille is not an easy task. Located in Cauroy-lès-Hermonville in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, north-west of Reims, the family estate is hidden in a lesser known area of Champagne and can be easier found with GPS coordinates than the actual address. But their biodynamic champagnes, made from 3 hectares only and a conversation with Francis Boulard are very well worth the search.

After 6 generations of winegrowers,  2009 was a pinnacle year for the Boulard family estate Champagne Raymond Boulard. After many family discussions about different approaches to viticulture, the estate was split into three different businesses, so that each of the children could pursue their own perception of wine production.

Francis Boulard, one of the three, founded his new business together with his daughter Delphine under the name Francis Boulard & Fille.

Since then, they  strictly focus on biodynamic production in order to produce a champagne that is as natural as possible. With a majority of 40% of Pinot Meunier and equal parts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, their vines are spread out across 3 hectares in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, the Vallée de la Marne and the Grand Cru village of Mailly in the Montagne de Reims.

“Most winegrowers have an average of five hectares to be, at least, cost-efficient” Francis Boulard points out, comparing the size of his winery.

“Fortunately we can make a living from our small production of around 25.000 bottles per year. Working hard, we have succeeded in creating value in our champagnes so that we can sell them at a price that allows us to earn a living while continuing biodynamic viticulture.”

When he was young, Francis Boulard watched his grandparents Julien and Sylvie cut trees, prune vines and plant vegetables according to the phases of the moon, working according to the simple rules of nature and the seasons – for this reason he considers biodynamics as a new term for an ancient knowledge:

“My grandmother taught me that salad needed to be planted when the moon was rising. My grandparents had never heard of a concept like biodynamics or people like Rudolf Steiner. They did their gardening with this knowledge long before biodynamics became a philosophy. Funny enough, I had already been a winegrower since 1973 when I heard of this ‘new’ term in 1996 for the first time.”

He officially started biodynamics in his vines in 2001, when he still worked within the structure of the ancient family estate. “I saw an analysis demonstrating that the molecules of all fungicides used in the vines can later be found in the wine. It quickly prompted me to make the decision to switch from organic to biodynamic growing.”

However, he never had any profound interest in the specific theories of Rudolf Steiner or other theologians like Nicholas Joly. “The philosophies behind biodynamics don’t interest me at all” he admits.

“I am nothing but a gardener. I use biodynamics as a way to promote life in the soil, activate micro-organisms and grow wine.”

Francis and Delphine Boulard’s goal is to create wines that are not polluted by traces of any products used in viticulture, and biodynamcis is a tool to obtain the results they both strive for. Francis Boulard is convinced that the key element to their champagne’s success is the intense care they give the soil and vines, which have been fully certified for biodynamics since 2014. 

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Read the full story in CUVÉE Magazine No. 1 | Champagne.

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Written by

Stefanie is the founder and chief editor of CUVÉE Magazine. Epicurean at heart and wine professional in life, she writes about all things wine and food that pamper her palate. Living in Champagne and holding the Champagne Master Level Certificate as well as WSET certificates, she can't stop discovering new bottles and the stories behind the labels.

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