Julie Balagny
Julie Balagny Mix Pack , 2019

Grower: Julie Balagny
Region: Beaujolais, France
Grape Varieties: Gamay
Size: 75cl bottle

Behind unassuming, heavy iron-clad doors we find Julie Balagny's new residence, tucked away behind a litany of farming and oenological utensils in various states of decay. Julie's an enigmatic character, and even at her home there's a quiet sense of reservation to her. Walking up to the vineyard sites is no easy feat, and as we trudged up the precariously perched at the tops of steep slopes I found myself watching my footing, seeking out large slabs of basalt where I might find the best traction. The bitterly cold February wind doesn't seem to bother Julie, as she points out various points of reference, like shelters for her sheep, or lines of soil demarkation. From the top of the slope we can see an array of stones twinkling underfoot, quartz and basalt mingle with flecks of pink granite, flanking the gnarled, low-profile vines dotting the hillside. And as I myself ponder the impossibility of farming such a site, how backbreaking the work, there's Julie calmly floating about in the periphery, pulling up the odd weed here or there.

Back in the chai Julie tastes us through the wines at the time still in barrel. She starts with a warning, that the wines may be disjointed, because the winds have been blowing in all directions for the last week, rather than the cardinal patterns they normally follow. She moves on quickly but it's an important point - a measure of Julie's connection to the elements around her.

The 2019 vintage seems a relatively painless one, with cuvées vinifying to dryness quickly and without issue. Each is open and expressive even in their youth. It's no secret that Julie's wines have seemingly found their stride, after her first vintage in 2010 and years prior under the tutelage of Yvon Metras, she's certainly got some experience under her belt. And that experience is reflected in her winemaking - the wines are vinified in the same way as many of the Beaujolais' greats, with grapes undergoing cold carbonic maceration and nothing further until pressing, which is long and slow, in a massive (and ancient) press. That delicate approach shows in the wines, each with a real purity of fruit and reflection of it's proper terroir. And yet, despite their commitment to singularity of place, the wines also show glimpses of Julie herself, at first reserved, and gently opening up to show wonderful generosity and warmth.

Minouche, the first négociant vintage of Julie's, with fruit hailing from the rocky soils of Saint-Amour. An open, honest expression of gamay with a lithe tannin and gentle structure. A wonderful representation of Julie; we feel very lucky to have gotten a large quantity of this wine and in turn have the privilege to share these wines with everybody.

Cayenne comes from 90 year old vines from the top of that wind-swept hillside, surrounded by forest. Volcanic basalt makes up the bulk of the 3ha parcel of this site, with flecks of pink granite dotted about. A wine that heaves with charm and energy, from a very special, perhaps even magical, site.

En Remont hails from the upper reaches of that windswept site, and the fruit in turn produces perhaps the most mineral-dense, layered and complex of the 2019s. Long, structured, with a wonderful harmony between rusticity and elegance, a wine we're most excited to see grace our shelves each vintage.

Docteur Briçou hails from a site in Moulin-a-Vent that in terms of terroir, mirrors more closely the soils of Fleurie, with pink granite and quartz. A wine of true elegance now with the structure and power behind it to age and age.


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