Joli Vin imports
Julien Sunier - Beaujolais
For the young and dynamic winemaker looking to make a go of it in France, Beaujolais certainly presents some wonderful opportunities and challenges as well. Beaujolais Nouveau may have tainted the entire region with the impression of light, bubble gum flavored wines, but serious vignerons in the Cru Beaujolais (named villages) have never stopped making charming wines of enormous character which, at their best, can rival the Pinots from Burgundy proper. And while overcoming the prejudices and stereotypes can be a hurdle, the possibility to acquire prime vineyard sites in the most celebrated villages of the Beaujolais appellation system, at prices otherwise prohibitive in the Côte D’Or, has encouraged a new generation of young talent, dedicated to raising the bar, to install themselves among these lovely hillside villages and vineyards and re-establish terroir driven wines in Beaujolais.
Such is the story for Julien Sunier. This Dijon native spent his early twenties combining his affections for viticulture and surfing in such far-flung places as Santa Cruz, CA and New Zealand. After a period of selective globe-trotting, Julien wound up back in his native Burgundy working alongside winemakers Nicolas Potel in Nuits Saint-Georges and then Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune, where he was bitten by the passion for biodynamic viticulture.
Soon afterwards the call came from the large negociant Mommessin in Beaujolais, who were then looking for a talent who could elevate the quality of their Beaujolais range and crank out some head- turning wines. Julien did just that for 5 years, sourcing the best fruit possible and working with growers in all of the 10 Cru Beaujolais villages. Ultimately, this work would prove an invaluable experience in getting to understand what the various micro- climates and micro terroirs in Beaujolais were capable of and which parcels routinely supplied the fruit capable of fashioning the most compelling wines.
However, the biodynamic bug never being far afield in his mind, Julien set out on his own in the Spring 2008 to realize his dream of establishing a domaine more in snych with his own ideas of organic viticulture and natural winemaking. He secured some densely planted, old-vine, hilltop parcels, just over 3 hectares in all, in the important Cru villages of Fleurie, Morgon and Régnié. In 2011, he is completing the conversion of those parcels to organic certification. Harvesting entirely by hand, Julien does whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentations in concrete vats at low temperatures, generally not higher than 22° or 23° C to preserve fresh fruit flavors and a delicate tannic structure. After the alcoholic fermentations are complete, the fruit is slowly pressed, over a 24 hour period, using an ancient vertical press Julien acquired in the Côte D’Or. The wines are aged for up to 11 months in 3 - 9 year old Burgundy barrels so nothing of the charming fruit flavors nor of the granitic soils is lost.
With the inaugural 2008 vintage, Julien Sunier has added his own voice to the evolving tapestry of artisan winemaking in the southernmost region of Burgundy and Joli Vin is enormously pleased to introduce to the U.S. market another talented and passionate new talent adding to that conversation.
RégniéJulien’s Régnié and Morgon parcel’s lie adjacent to one another in the south facing parcel named “Oeillat.” The vines were planted around 1965…
FleurieAt almost 500 m in elevation and at the upper edge of Beaujolais’ wine growing range, the southern oriented, steeply pitched parcel of “Niagara” is the source of Julien's Fleurie cuvée.
MorgonJulien’s Morgon cuvée originates from two separate parcels of equal surface area, one located in the southwest facing slope lieu-dit of “Corcelette” and the other at the edge of the Morgon/Régnié line…