Today’s focus is on the Morgon 2014 of Beaujolais star Julien Sunier, and the Trousseau ‘Singulier’ 2014 from progressive Jurassian winemaking family Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot. Both wines give compelling arguments for why these two oft overlooked regions should not be ignored.
Julien Sunier didn’t come to winemaking through the traditional family path. He met the legendary winemaker Christophe Roumier, who happened to be a hairdressing client of his mother, and was taken on as an intern at Christophe’s Chambolle Musigny estate. He spent his early twenties travelling the Western Hemisphere, in Santa Cruz, California and New Zealand, where he combined his passion for surfing with working several vintages. Upon returning to his native Burgundy, Julien worked alongside Nicolas Potel in Nuits Saint-Georges and Jean-Claude Rateau in Beaune, consolidating his belief in biodynamic viticulture.
By now a talented winemaker himself, Julien was taken on by a large négociant in Mommessin to help elevate the quality of their wines, where he stayed for 5 years. He worked with growers in all 10 Cru Beaujolais villages to source the best possible fruit, gaining an invaluable understanding of the climates and terroirs each offer.
In Spring 2008 Julien managed to procure his own densely planted, old vine, hilltop parcels, in the villages of Morgon, Fleurie and Regnié, and established his own domaine in an old farmhouse in Avénas. Julien believes in following organic viticulture and natural winemaking practices, in 2011 he completing the conversion of his vineyards to organic certification.
Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot
Stéphane Tissot grew up a few kilometres from Arbois on his family domaine in Montigny-les-Arsures, set up by his parents André and Mireille in 1962, where he remembers cleaning barrels as a small child. After working at wineries in Australia and South Africa, Stéphane took over the domaine in 1990, aged only 20, which he now runs with his wife Bénédicte. He now farms 45 to 50 hectares, with vineyard parcels throughout the north of the region, through mostly in the Arbois appelation.
He has dramatically reduced yields, and the domaine was one of the first to complete the transition to organic viticulture in 1999, converting to biodynamic practices in 2004, certified by Demeter. 28 different wines are produced by the domaine, all vinified independently, each a unique expression of terroir and variety. Under Stéphane’s direction the domaine’s first Chardonnay de Terroir was produced in 1997, later followed by wines from new parcels in superb terroirs such as Les Bruyères, La Mailloche, En Barberon and Château-Chalon.
New vines have all been panted using the traditional Selection Massale method, instead of Clonal Selection, now more common throughout the region. Stéphane has chosen to use Selection Massale, where the best old vines from a terroir are selected from which to take cuttings, for its long term ability to better express the uniqueness and characteristics of individual terroirs.
In contrast to the region’s reputation for rusticity, Stéphane works precisely in the winery. He is a progressive winemaker, with indigenous yeast fermentations, making only judicious use of sulfur dioxide, some new oak, and has recently experimented with fermenting and ageing in amphorae. Although most of the white wines are vinified ouillé, topped up, he also makes an excellent partially oxidative Savagnin, vinified traditionally, sous voile.
Trousseau, one of the three main permitted red grape varieties permitted in the Jura, has only a small proportion of the vineyard plantings, requiring more sunlight to ripen, and preferring clay gravel soils. Trousseau has the ability to age, but is more often enjoyed young. It produces wines light in colour and body, typically complex and mineral.
Julien Sunier Morgon 2014
Sunier has two parcels of Morgon, on the sloped lieu dit of Corcelette, and the other on the Morgon/Régnié border in the vineyard En Oeillat. Both parcels face south west, and were densely planted in the 1960s, on decomposing granitic topsoil locally called roche pourrie, rotted rock, with a clay base 2 metres below.
Harvesting is entirely by hand, undergoing long and slow whole cluster carbonic maceration, then indigenous yeast fermentation in concrete vats at low temperatures no higher than 22 to 23°C to preserve the delicate tannins and fresh fruit characteristics. After alcoholic fermentation the fruit is pressed very slowly over 24 hours using an ancient vertical press that Julien acquired in the Côte D’Or, then élevage of 8 to 12 months in 3 to 9 year old Burgundy barrels he buys from Domaine Roumier. Only minimal sulphur is used at bottling, and no filtration.
Medium intensity ruby with a dark, black cherry core, and garnet hues on the rim.
Pronounced. Very perfumed and aromatic, with potpourri and pink rose petal, then ripe strawberry and black cherry fruit, reminiscent of creamy blackcurrant yoghurt. There’s some woody, rotting log, earthy and leafy wet forest floor, and wild mushroom character. Autumn hedgerow fruits, bramble and sloe, give some rusticity, hinting at charred toffee bonfire apple. Starting to show some development.
Dry on the palate, medium bodied, with good acidity and structured but fine tannins. Some slightly charcoally, bonfire and wood smoke character join the aroma characteristics, and there’s a distinct crushed black peppercorn character on the persistent finish.
Superb, the mellow and smooth core contrasts to a rustic edge. Well integrated, with elegance and complexity.
Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot’s Arbois Trousseau ‘Singulier’ 2014
The grapes for Tissot’s Trousseau Singulier were destemmed by hand, before an unusually long five week skin maceration in wooden vats, with some piégeages, punching down of the cap. The wines spend élevage, élevage being the French term for the time between fermentation and bottling when the wine is raised, for 1 year, mostly in 600 litre oak foudre, with 10% new oak, before bottling without filtration using only minimal sulphur.
Medium ruby appearance, with slight garnet hues towards the rim.
Pronounced nose. Aromas of red fruits, cherry and raspberry immediately jump from the glass, with a piney, sappy and resinous quality. There’s something difficult to pinpoint, almost rose petal but more savoury, wild or overripe strawberry. Very perfumed, pink peppercorn, dried out potpourri, dried cherries.
Dry, with quite a tart, green, tannic bite, medium tannins and crisp acidity. Bitter red cherries, wild strawberry, loganberries and tart raspberries, brambles and blackberry leaf. Distinct bitterness, green almond and pink peppercorn spice, with hints of anise. Nice minerality, with a long bitter cherry stone finish.
Excellent. The crisp acidity and bitterness work in harmony to make this a very refreshing, juicy wine. Probably great for summer, but I think this would also pair superbly with richer fatty poultry; think roast turkey and cranberry jelly.
This still feels very youthful, and I think would benefit from allowing time for some of the tannic bitterness to become better integrated. It would be interesting to see how this developed, if only any of my bottles remained.