Seeing the 2019s from Julien Sunier coming onto the list reminded me how vital is the life-force of this man and his wines. It’s hard to convey how intense is the energy of this guy, like staring at the sun. It seems to be in inverse proportion to his proximity to his winery in leafy, rural Avenas. When I’ve met him in London he seems a shadow of his true self at home, vibrating with passion as he talks about one of the x different projects he’s working on. If you ever want to feel anxiety about your own industry, spend some time with him.
Before starting the Domaine in the mid 2000s be worked with Mommessin, one of the biggest negociants in the region, and with Christophe Roumier in Chambolle (where he gets his barrels), where he was in serious consideration to take over the winemaking at the Domaine. But there is something about Gamay and the resurrection of the reputation of Beaujolais that appealed – doing something off your own back I guess. And I think there is something of the careful caretaker in making wine from the most elite terroirs on earth that could be rather off-putting. Don’t fuck it up basically.
His wines since 2009 have built more and more delicacy and style into them every vintage as he learns more and more about his terroirs and the vinifications – he’s standing on the shoulders of giants, Marcel Lapierre was a real friend and inspiration as well as the rest of the gang. It was their influence that also was critical in sourcing his vineyards in Fleurie, Morgon and Regnie that had not been ravaged by industrial viticulture for the last thirty years. To me the wines recall something of the silky, airy florality of Chambolle-Musigny.
One of my most profound memories is at his dinner table with his wife, the daughter of Gerard Potel. She inherited a pretty decent collection of wines, and before dinner at a local joint in Morgon, he pulled out a bottle for a blind tasting,. We ummed and erred around Gevrey from a ripe vintage. Bottle unveiled… 1990 Chambertin Clos de Beze Rousseau… wowzer! Julian just looked at his watch and said merde, we’re late for dinner – so we left the half bottle of Chambertin as he said, “right, let’s go and drink some real fucking wine’