Talk about a hot wine! The 2016 Julien Sunier Fleurie is our new Wine of the Week, and it’s one of those wines that is rarely seen outside of New York and San Francisco……..until now. Some of you might remember Sunier’s Regnier from last Thanksgiving. It came in about two weeks before the holiday, and many of you enjoyed it with your turkey and fixins’. Many of you also returned to buy more, but unfortunately it was gone. Julien Sunier’s wines are back and I’m a big fan of his 2016’s. Laced with notes of bright red fruits, forest floor, spice and floral nuances, it’s a marvelous wine, but it won’t last long. We were only able to get 7 cases of Sunier’s Fleurie, and it will go quick.
Julien Sunier’s story is riveting. Unlike many of the small producers I love, Julien did not come from a wine family. Originally from Dijon, he came to wine in a unique way. His mom made her living cutting hair, and one of her regular clients happened to be Christophe Roumier. Yes, it’s that Roumier, the one who makes some of the world’s finest Chambolle-Musigny(s) in Burgundy. After graduating high school, Julien had no direction, so he decided to work with Roumier to “see what this wine stuff was all about.” He caught the wine bug and spent the next several years travelling around the world working harvests in both California and New Zealand. Why California and New Zealand? Because he could simultaneously surf and deepen his understanding of the vine in both hemispheres. He returned home in the early 2000’s and worked alongside Nicolas Potel in Nuits Saint-Georges and Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune, where he solidified a passion for organic and biodynamic viticulture. After that, Julien managed a large Beaujolais negociant and worked with small growers in all 10 of the Cru Beaujolais Villages.
Let’s just say he put his time in the old fashioned way. He worked in the vineyards and the cellars with some of the best in the business, he studied the distinct terroirs of the respective regions in which he worked, and he finally decided it was time to do his own thing. In 2008, he established his own domaine with the purchase of 3 hectares of prime, old-vine, hilltop vineyards in the Cru Villages of Fleurie, Morgon, and Regnie……….I’ve got a little bit of Morgon and Regnie too! Currently, he is practicing organic, he harvests all of the grapes by hand, and he conducts whole cluster, indigneous yeast fermentation in concrete vats at low temperatures to preserve freshness, purity, and fine tannin structure. After fermentation, he ages his wines for 11 months in older Burgundy barrels that he gets from his old buddy, Christophe Roumier.
His Fleurie comes from a hillside site that was planted in the early 1960’s. Planted in rocky, rugged, granitic soils, the vineyard faces south capturing maximum sunshine. The resulting wine is astounding! Intense in aroma and flavor, yet beautifully pure and elegant, this is a very special bottle of wine. Gorgeous aromas of fresh cherry, strawberry, dried leaf, brown spice and violet lead into a fresh and zesty palate. The tannin is quite fine, the acidity is bright and invigorating, and the finish long. I am told that that these wines reward medium-term cellaring, but I seriously doubt I’ll delay the immediate gratification that this wine delivers.
With fall just around the corner and the leaves starting to fall, this is one of my top red wine picks. Trust me, as good as it is drinking without food, it’s even better with classic fall fare such as roasted poultry or pork served alongside root vegetables and such. If you can, save a bottle or 2 for Thanksgiving — you’ll thank me! I said it once, and I’ll say it again, this one won’t last long! Stop by the store and pick some up or email me at email@example.com, and I’ll hold your order for you. Cheers and happy drinking and eating in Asheville!
Owner/Operator at Table Wine