We are careful to pick and choose our Beaujolais recommendations, Julien Sunier has rapidly become one of our favorites and the crtics agree.
The text below comes directly from Sunier's California agent, Nadia Dmytriw who discovered Julien's wine on one of her frequent trips to France. She has an excellent palate, an eye for excellent domaines on the rise, and knows these wines very well. If you are a fan of succulent and characterful Beaujolais, these wines are too good, and too well-priced to miss!
We have selected the top three crus from the new 2020 vintage to add to our existing stock from 2018.
All wines are in stock and available now.
"Julien Sunier established his own small Beaujolais domaine in 2008 after a stint working with Christophe Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny, and he has rapidly emerged as one of the region's new star producers." - The Wine Advocate, William Kelly
Dijon born surfer turned Cru Beaujolais, natural wine champion, Julien has extensive experience working for notable organic and biodynamic estates in Burgundy (Christophe Roumier), New Zealand, California, and 2018 marks his 10th year farming his own organic vineyards. Vintage in and vintage out his wines are deft, clean, and clearly express site with a captivating transparency. The domaine of Julien Sunier debuted in 2008 with 3 hectares of old vines in some of the top sites in Morgon and Fleurie, which he immediately converted to organic farming. He has also started incorporating biodynamic principles. Today the estate has close to 6.5 hectares of predominantly old vines in sought after single parcels in all 3 of his Crus, including Py in Morgon.
The winery is located in Avenas, which is well over 500 meters and the high elevation coupled with the fact that Julien does not temp control fermentation translates to long & slow ferments, a delicacy of flavor and extraction, and a elegance vintage in & vintage out. Hand harvests, basket press, native yeast ferments, ageing in neutral wood and tank, minimal to no sulfur.
Julien is a Dijon native but had no family connection to vineyards or the wine industry. His mother is a hair stylist and one of her clients happened to be Christophe Roumier, who offered to show Julien "what this wine stuff was all about". From there Julien worked harvests across the globe in New Zealand and California (Bonny Doon) with surfing sessions in between and returned to Burgundy to intern with Nicolas Potel in Nuits Saint-Georges and Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune, where he solidified a passion for organic and biodynamic viticulture.
Julien had developed a deep knowledge of the Beaujolais Crus and close contacts while working as assistant winemaker for 5 years with a big house négociant. Throughout that time he got to know the best parcels in all 10 Beaujolais Crus and develop relationships with vignerons who were willing to long-term lease their vineyards in prime sites to Julien for his own project. In 2008 Julien struck out on his own and realized his dream of having his own label according to his organic and biodynamic principles. He started with 3 hectares of old vines in some of the top sites in Morgon and Fleurie. He added Régnié in 2009 and today he has 6.5 hectares between the 3 Crus and is launching a new mini-négociant project designed to help train young, inexperienced but passionate growers and winemakers how to work naturally in Beaujolais.
Site & Vines: 3 ha of old vines on sandy granite, at the foot of the Côte de Py, just outside of Morgon.
Vinification & Elevage: Indigenous yeast fermentations in concrete vats at low temperatures, to preserve fresh fruit flavors and a delicate tannic structure. Partial carbonic fermentation. After fermentations are complete, fruit is slowly pressed, over a 24 hour period, using an ancient vertical press Julien acquired in the Côte D’Or.
Aging: aged primarily in neutral French barrels, occasionally with a small percentage of concrete.
Notes: A prime site for the often overlooked Cru of Régnié, which gives a certain depth of character and presence to the wine vintage in and vintage out. That said, Régnié remains the most immediately approachable of Julien's 3 crus with a certain softness and upfront juiciness.
2018 Regnie - $25 per bottle
93 points Vinous Media - "Vivid purple. Heady aromas of mineral-accented red/blue fruits, floral pastilles and incense take on a spicy nuance as the wine stretches out. Fleshy and seamless in the mouth, offering intense black raspberry and boysenberry flavors and a hint of candied rose. Finishes seamless, sweet and very long, showing an echo of florality and supple, even tannins that add gentle grip. (Drink between 2022-2029)"
2020 Regnie - $30 per bottle
92 points John Gilman- "The Régnié from Julien Sunier is made from even older vines than his excellent Fleurie bottling, as these vines are more than sixty years of age and sit on the edge of the Morgon border, near Côte du Py. Twenty percent of this cuvée is aged in cement vats and the other eighty percent in older Burgundy barrels. The 2020 offers up a beautifully pure and precise bouquet of black cherries, sweet dark berries, just a hint of cranberry, dark soil tones, gamebird, fresh thyme, woodsmoke and a topnote of peonies. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and nicely soil-driven, with a still quite primary personality, a fine core of black fruit, modest tannins and a long, tangy and still tightly-knit finish. This is structured like a young Morgon and will demand a bit of bottle age before it starts to blossom on the palate. (Drink between 2025-2045)"
Site & Vines: From the lieu-dits of "Corcelette", "Py", "Charme", and "En Oeillat". Densely planted parcels, averaging 50 year old vines. Mostly decomposing granite and clay soil.
60 year old vines on 1.88 hectares between 280-420m elevation with a south/south-east exposure. Soil is sandy and pink granite.
Vinification & Elevage: Gravity tanked, indigenous yeasts, without SO2, Carbonic maceration (whole grapes fermented in anaerobic) for 10 days and then semi-carbonic for 10 days, manual raking, old-fashioned pressing with vertical press.
Indigenous yeast fermentations in concrete vats at low temperatures, to preserve fresh fruit flavors and a delicate tannic structure. Fruit is slowly pressed after fermentation using an ancient vertical press Julien acquired in the Côte D’Or.
Aging: 100% 228 liters oak barrels (about 10 wines old) for 9-11 months. Bottled unfiltered with a low addition of sulfites.
Aged for up to 11 months in 3 - 9 year old Burgundy barrels so the charming fruit and granitic soil flavors aren't lost.
Notes: Julien's Morgon always has a fair amount of structure to it and is most age-worthy but also has plenty of immediate charm and enjoyable young.
2020 Morgon - $35 per bottle
93+ points John Gilman - "Julien Sunier’s Morgon also comes from two lieux à dits, in this case, la Corcelette and en Oeillat, which lies on the Régnié border. Both parcels were planted in the 1960s and are closing in on their sixtieth birthdays. The wine is fermented in cement vats and aged in used Burgundy casks that originated with Julien’s friend, Christophe Roumier. The 2020 Morgon is a beautifully pure and sappy example of the vintage, with the nose jumping from the glass in a mix of red and black cherries, pomegranate, gamebird, a complex base of soil tones, a touch of fresh thyme, bitter chocolate and plenty of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused and beautifully pure, with more structural reserve than the nose hints at, a gorgeous core of fruit, excellent backend mineral drive and a long, suavely tannic and tangy finish. This beautiful bottle of Morgon will demand some time in the cellar before it starts to drink with generosity, but its future is very bright indeed! (Drink between 2027-2055))"
Site & Vines: Up until 2018 vintage: 1.85 ha in the lieu dit "Niagara" and 2 ha additional parcels. Niagara is the original parcel Julien started to farm in 2008 and has 80-120+ year old vines on sheer pink granite, oriented south. At 570 meters it is one of the highest elevation Cru sites and also one of the most difficult to farm.
Starting with 2018, Fleurie will come from 2 complimentary parcels - the lower lying "Grand Près" which will bring roundness & a generosity of fruit and the higher elevation "la Tonne" (450 meters) which sits on an exceptional granite base and will bring freshness, acidity and depth of minerality. Steeply sloped, this parcel is impossible to mecanize and will be worked by hand.
Vinification & Elevage: Indigenous yeast fermentations in concrete vats at low temperatures, to preserve fresh fruit flavors and a delicate tannic structure. After fermentations are complete, fruit is slowly pressed, over a 24 hour period, using an ancient vertical press Julien acquired in the Côte D’Or.
Aged for up to 11 months in 3 - 9 year old Burgundy barrels so the charming fruit and granitic soil flavors aren't lost. Minimal sulfur at bottling.
Notes: Julien's Fleurie always has an elegance and filigreed quality to it, in more classic vintages it is often like licking floral tinted granite.
2018 Fleurie - $30 per bottle
94 points Vinous Media - "Brilliant magenta. A hugely perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red berries, cherry preserves, candied violet and exotic spices, along with a vibrant mineral nuance that expands with air. Stains the palate with sweet, penetrating raspberry, cherry, mulberry and floral pastille flavors that display a suave blend of power and delicacy. The spicy note comes back on an extremely long, floral-dominated finish that's given shape by smooth, harmonious tannins. (Drink between 2022-2030)"
2020 Fleurie - $35 per bottle
93 points John GIlman - "Julien Sunier’s Fleurie is made from fifty year-old vines planted on the steep, pink granite hillside vineyard of Niagara in the commune. The wine is fermented in cement vats and raised in older Burgundy barrels, that range from three to ten years of age. The 2020 Fleurie is really a beautiful wine, offering up a deep and pure bouquet of red and black cherries, pigeon, peonies, stony soil tones, just a touch of fresh thyme and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a fine core of fruit, lovely mineral drive, ripe, moderate tannins and a long, tangy and very nicely balanced young finish. This is a superb bottle of Fleurie that can certainly be drunk with pleasure today, but it is really still a puppy and a couple of years in the cellar will really allow its secondary layers of complexity to unfurl. (Drink between 2021-2035)"