Owner & winemaker: Julien Sunier
Vineyards: 9ha, across three different Beaujolais crus
Vineyard management: Certified organic
Soils: Predominantly pink granite
Grapes grown: Gamay
Annual production: 50,000 bottles
- Julien Sunier did not come from a winemaking family, but he learned the trade by working alongside storied mentors such as Christophe Roumier, Nicolas Potel, and Jean-Claude Rateau.
- The vineyards are spread across three Beaujolais crus: 1.64ha in Fleurie, 2.55ha in Morgon, and 4.6ha in Régnié.
- Sunier avoids the use of pumps, preferring to move the grapes and juice by gravity. The winery is entirely lined in wood to create an optimal environment for fermentation and aging.
“We are driven by agriculture, plain and simple, more precisely ‘agro-ecology.’ We respect nature, the earth, and the men who walk upon it.” So says the Dijon-born Julien Sunier who, unlike many producers, had no formal connection with the world of wine while growing up. After graduating from high school, Julien was introduced to wine by the legendary Burgundian winemaker, Christophe Roumier, who happened to be a client of his mother’s hair salon. Julien went on to study oenology at university, and from there worked with Roumier in Burgundy, followed by stints in New Zealand and California. Upon returning to Burgundy he interned with Nicolas Potel and Jean-Claude Rateau, learning more intimately about organic and biodynamic viticulture and winemaking, and finished his time in the region by working for Mommessin of Clos de Tart fame. In 2008 Julien acquired three hectares of old vines in three different Beaujolais Crus, which he immediately converted to organic and began making wine for himself. He believes in protecting and developing the biodiversity and fertility of the soils, using his artisanal approach to viticulture to produce unique wines that reflect the character of their terroirs and celebrate originality and place.
Beyond organic agriculture, Sunier is particularly focused on soil health: manure compost encourages healthy microbial activity; cover crops provide carbon; and only the surface is worked to maintain soil integrity. Grapes are harvested by hand and only the perfectly ripe and healthy bunches are selected in the vineyard. They are transported back to the winery in wide, shallow bins so that none are crushed before the whole clusters are gently added to a cement tank and blanketed with CO2 to undergo carbonic maceration. The goal is to bring a juicy and food-friendly character to the wines. Alcoholic fermentation is kickstarted with a homemade pied de cuve, then the wine is gently pressed in a vertical basket press over the course of 24 hours. Aging takes place in used 228L barrels (on average 10 years old) on the fine lees for 8-11 months.