Tasted with Julien Sunier in Avenas, 13 February 2019.
Domaine Julien Sunier
Ferme des Noisetiers
Tel: +33 4 74 69 91 74
Julien on 2018:
“Cool, genial. It was an excellent idea from mother nature to give us this vintage because we had 2 very difficult vintages with hail in 2016 and 2017 – not much more than one harvest in two years. There was a lot of rain to start the year, but is stopped around flowering and was dry and sunny right up to about November. We have a very dry winter to follow too – so far – but it’s a good cold winter. We seem to have experienced almost tropical weather in the last summers; heavy rain followed by much dryness. 2018 brought us fine weather in which to harvest a good yield – really no sorting was needed for the grapes – everything went into the basket. We had clean stems so there was no destemming – the first time I had such a yield since 2011. The same amount of grapes with shitty weather would have been very hard to deal with! The cuverie was really packed as it’s the first time I had a full yield with over 7 hectares. In 2019 it will be 8.3 hectares.
“The rules are rather restrictive – in years like 2018 you’re not allowed to harvest everything – really they should say an average of 50 hl/ha over 10 years not just in a single year. There’s a great balance, and the wines are generous and juicy – I’m very happy. There was worry about brett and volatiles, but I’m happy to have avoided that.”
Julien on 2017:
“A very nice result. There was potentially a lot of grapes after a fine start to the year – then a hot climate again – hot in the harvest too – 2nd September start and 30-35°C during the harvest. Of-course we had 2 big hailstorms – south to north – 30km wide. I didn’t have hail insurance – I’ve 13 parcels in 3 villages and 11 or 12 parcels have been hit in the last years – so much for spreading your bets! But I finished with 25-40 hl/ha depending on the parcels – I was expecting a volume like 2018 before the hail – so around 50 – nature had the last word though!”
I’m not really interested in the colour, it’s the structure that makes me decide when it’s time to make the press. Since 2010 I’ve done no chaptalisation – some of these are only 12.5° in 2017 – I love to see and taste the vintage – I love lighter wines too. When I’m happy with my winemaking, life is simple and it’s good.
Not the black colours and extractions of some other approaches – but wines that are alive and delicious. Bravo!
Bottled mid-June – ‘and it takes about a year in bottle before I’m happy – but the wines really grow in the bottle. But I have to say that I prefer the more complicated vintages, with some acidity and I have a fear of dark or black coloured wine!‘ All wines unfiltered with 10mg of sulfur at bottling but none during elevage.
2017 Beaujolais Villages Wild Soul
‘Pur Jus’ on the label and cork to indicate that these are bought grapes from friends. ‘It’s not my job to grow doing négoce, but there are new rules since 2016 that allow sales of up to €100k worth of wine without a négoce licence though it can’t be more than 50% of the turnover. But I’m keeping this because I like both it and my supplier. In 2016 where 70% of my volume was lost I had to buy some grapes – but I liked the result so I did it again in 2017 – but all organic from Lantignié towards Regnié with a good altitude, next year (2018) I’ll put Beaujolais Lantignié on the label. Mainly aged in foudres and tanks – zero sulfur. The viticulture will be certified organic next year. In 2018 vinified in the suppliers winery but in Julien’s own style. ‘It’s a higher price because I’m prepared to pay extra for organic grapes – it’s about the long-term and people being able to live.’
A nicely vibrant fruit, some creamy background from the style of vinification. Plenty of attack, drive and energy, depth of flavour and a good structure – what more could you want? Excellent.
2017 Morgon Charmes
The first year separated from the Morgon cuvée; ‘I gain a lot of complexity from blending – I have 6 parcels over 2 hectares – but my customers and me are more interesting in the climats, so… I didn’t have a lot of volume so all had elevage in wood – foudres.’ Labelled as biodynamic.
A deep nose, almost meaty, swirling releasing more fruit – an inviting fruit. Fuller, rounder. A supple, comfortable, delicious wine. A suggestion of wood in the saline finishing flavour – this is delicious wine.
Red waxed topped. Vines lower down the slope – but including Côte du Py – so a little richer.
A bigger, rounder nose – this is so inviting. Round, melting with fresh but darker fruited flavour. A little structure but there are many flavours here. Long, vibrant and with a little graphite mineral complexity – generous and über-tasty. Bravo!
A little more colour – ‘the vines that were the most hailed in this vintage, because of that I think it’s a little over-mature and less juicy than usual’ – only 20 hl/ha.
Ooh but that’s a lovely width of aroma – a deep fruit but it’s the accent of floral that takes my eye. Hmm. Still a fresh and vibrant nose. I find this ‘juicy’ even if Julien thinks it’s ‘less’ – a nice width and with a fresh intensity, long, long, long. The Morgon is the tastier in the finish, but this is almost as good. Bravo!
Julien didn’t have this wine with him for the tasting, he forgot. So he later gave me this bottle to taste at home:
Plenty of colour. A wide nose and one of depth and round, soft, red fruits – nothing jarring like some from Fleurie in 2017. Sleek but still mouth-filling. The barest baseline of tannin – I must say a lovely texture too. A good finishing energy with slow-moving waves of fine finishing flavour. One of the more accomplished Fleuries of this difficult vintage for the cru. It’s excellent!