Tasted with Julie Balagny in Les Thorins, 19 February 2020.
Domaine Julie Balagny
249 Route des Thorins,
Tel: +33 6 19 55 67 48
Julie is a Parisian by birth but in 1999, attracted to the land, she left the city behind to make wine in the south-west of France – Nimes. “But next-door to the domaine was a farm where everything was biodynamic – I thought I had never tasted such a beautiful tomato as from there – I was hooked on this approach. I first studied a BTS in Cahors before moving to Beaujolais in 2009, starting with 3.20 hectares of vines in Fleurie.”
Her first Beaujolais wines were made in the cuverie of Yvon Métras before she found a place in Fleurie itself – near Poncié. In 2014 she found the old farm that is her current home – in Les Thorins – the old part of the Moulin à Vent appellation. It’s an 18th-century building that once housed servants from the nearby Château – I expect that it will be a candidate for renovation for the rest of Julie’s days – but there’s great charm here. Julie explains “Yes this little enclave in Les Thorins was home to many migrant workers who came from Italy – Les Thorins was a little Italy.”
In 2018 Julie decided to declassify all her wines to Vins de France. She explains that the wines are made only from old vines, on the hills, all worked organically – all done in the ‘old-style.’ From the start in 2009, her wines have all been made as parcel selections, neither blending or selling to maisons. “With my approach, the most that I can make is 20 hl/ha – but this year for the first time I did some négoce or I can’t really make any refurbishments of the domaine selling my 7-8,000 bottles production per year – I already have to pay too much every year for certification – the system is very well done, but it doesn’t seem to work for me – I question everything, it’s my style.”
It’s mainly export from this domaine but it’s only 7-8,000 bottles per year…
Only two wines, but two very lovely wines – the Remont, probably a great wine – well done!
‘I change the label every year – my Fleurie is a song. But there’s a coherence behind the history. This from the Fleurie parcel – 3 different types of soil, vines of 40 years old, 3-400 m altitude. 2018 was a complicated year as the grapes had very ripe the sugars. They only finished fermenting in July – I bottled in August!’
A wide nose, a little saline, dark-fruited, slightly metallic mineral, faintly lactic nose. Round, lovely texture – a faint grain of tannin at the base – the flavour is wide and fine. Tasty and delicious wine. ‘Yes the texture is my obsession.‘
The same parcel, but here on granite and quartz – not the basalt part – the older vines that range from more than 60 to over 100-years-old – harvested near as possible the same day.
A more compact nose but of freshness – an impression of silk, nicely clean fruit. Wider, plenty of energy, more depth of flavour – wide and complex – this is absolutely super. Bright, beautifully mineral finishing – bravo!