A chat with winemaker Julien of Domaine Julien Chantreau, producer of our Chiroubles
Chiroubles is a small, hilly appellation in Beaujolais. The climate and elevation here allow for the production of light and refreshing wines
Chiroubles is one of the lesser known Beaujolais Crus, but producers in this tiny appellation frequently over-perform producing fruity, highly perfumed wines expressing all that's great about Beaujolais.
How did you end up becoming a winemaker?
I set up as a winegrower in 2008 on the Chiroubles Cru, with around 6 hectares of vines. My family had owned the vineyard for four generations, and I wanted to continue the adventure out of passion as well as the desire to continue my family's work. Since then, the estate has grown to include four hectares of Morgon, and I've just planted 50 acres of white Beaujolais in Chardonnay.
Tell us why a keen wine drinker should visit your region?
Beaujolais, and in particular the Crus region, is magnificent. Undulating with a breathtaking diversity of wines and landscapes. The Chiroubles cru (dear to my heart) is the highest of the Beaujolais crus, a high altitude terroir that dominates the entire Beaujolais vineyard, with a view over the Saône Plain as well as Mont Blanc on a clear day.
Which part of the winemaking process do you enjoy the most?
My favourite part of the winemaking process is when I'm alone in the cellar and my grapes quietly ferment in whole bunches. The result of this maceration is the "Paradis", the first juice to flow from the press, which is a great moment of family conviviality.
Is there anything that frustrates you about working in wine?
The feeling of running out of time...
Which environmental practices are most important to you?
I've been committed to Terra Vitis certification since I set up, which gives me a working framework that goes much further than the specifications for my AOC. It gives me traceability from the grape to the bottle. I use plant cover in my vines to bring life to the soil and provide natural fertiliser. Improvements are being made to reduce water and electricity consumption, for example. It's both complex and interesting, and it allows me to improve from year to year.
Away from the vineyards and winery, how do you like to spend your spare time?
I've been a volunteer firefighter for 20 years now, with the rank of warrant officer, and I'm in charge of the fire and rescue trucks. It's my second passion, and it takes up a lot of my time, but I'm proud to bring comfort to those who need it.
Which is your favourite season?
Winter, strangely enough... it's pruning season in the vineyards, and I find myself alone pruning my vines one by one. It's hard and tedious, but it's also the most important time to prepare for the coming harvest.
What is your go-to music to unwind to?
French pop and English rock such as the Sterephonics, Radiohead, Oasis...
What are you most looking forward to this year?
A good harvest and good sales...