Northern Beaujolais often gets most of the region’s winemaking acclaim, but Julien Merle is out to prove that the south can hold its own. His 8 hectares lie in between the granite soils of the north and the clay limestone of the south in a village called Légny where he produces a small selection of infinitely drinkable reds and, yes, whites—he makes a blanc from Chardonnay, which is rare in Beaujolais. Julien Merle is making exactly what you want from this region: wines with plenty of character, gorgeous texture, and delicious enough to gulp by the gallon.
Julien took over his parents’ bulk wine estate at age 23 and has since turned it into an outstanding low-intervention winery, with encouragement and mentorship from Jean Foillard and Guy Breton, among others. His first changes to the status quo were to introduce horse plowing, natural yeasts, and to eliminate all additives and sulfites from the winemaking. In the vineyard, he cordon trains his vines, which means they’re lifted from the ground and less prone to Brettanomyces. This is a relatively rare practice in Beaujolais where most vines are goblet trained, lower to the ground. His standards are high: he makes few cuvées, blending the grapes from his best plots in order to increase the quality of all his wines. They’re unfiltered, unfined, and made with a nod to Burgundian methods with a lot of pigeage.
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