Tiny Production, Tremendous Talent: 2016 Antoine Sunier
Posted on: 04/17/18 2:29 PM
Beaujolais phenom Antoine Sunier (not to be mistaken for his older brother, another prodigious talent, Julien Sunier) has just released his 2016 Beaujolais and, big surprise, they are damn delicious. And not to mention, impressive. Antoine’s debut vintage was only in 2014, yet his craftsmanship and sensitivity are way, way, ahead of the curve. Inspired by the Gang of Four (Foillard, Lapierre, Thevenet and Breton), Antoine’s wines are deep, vibrant, soil-driven impressions that are somehow also dangerously drinkable. In sum, classic Beaujolais!
2016 Antoine Sunier Régnié
“Lurid ruby. Mineral-tinged aromas of fresh raspberry, cherry and lavender, along with a hint of musky herbs in the background. Lively and appealingly sweet, offering palate-staining red berry and spicecake flavors that are lifted and sharpened by juicy acidity. Shows excellent clarity and minerally cut on the persistent finish, which is framed by sneaky, well-knit tannins.” 92 Points, Vinous
2016 Antoine Sunier Morgon
“(made from fruit grown in the prime Corcelette and Les Charmes lieux-dits of the cru) Lurid violet. Pungent dark berry and floral pastille scents are enlivened by musky earth and smoky mineral nuances. Stains the palate with boysenberry and bitter cherry flavors that deepen and become spicier with air. Concentrated yet energetic in style, delivering solid finishing thrust and slow-building, fine-grained tannins.” 92 Points, Vinous
More about the Wine:
Although he grew up in Dijon, the capital of Côte-d’Or, Antoine and Julien and the rest of the Sunier family had nothing to do with Burgundy. And it seemed like it was going to stay that way, until Antoine’s mother, a hairdresser, happened to have a repeat customer named Christophe Roumier. Roumier sat and listened to Madame Sunier talk, perhaps complain, of her listless eldest son Julien, who had no idea what his path was after graduating from school. Roumier, being the thoughtful and sensitive man he is famous for being, asked if her son would like to work for him. Thanks to a good haircut, the Sunier family was now connected to arguably one of the greatest winemakers in the world. It was a good start.
It took a little longer for Antoine to come into the picture. Unlike Julien, Antoine graduated and went straight into a more stable, conservative route, working IT for a telecommunications company. Making a good living, Antoine only began to gain interest in winemaking after visiting and helping his old brother in Morgon. Witnessing his success and happiness made a deep impression on the younger brother and soon Antoine replaced wires with vines, enrolling in 2012 to study Oenology and Viticulture in Beaune. He spent time with the illustrious Jean-Paul Lapalu in Beaujolais before beginning his own venture. It’s tiny. Julian rents 2.6 hectares in Régnié and 1.2 hectares in Morgon.
Very similar to his older brother Julien, Antoine does as little intervention with his wines as possible. The vineyards are completely organic, which is amazing given the low price of these wines (winemakers spend on average twice the amount on organic vineyards to non-organic). In the cellar Antoine depends on native yeast, fermenting semi-carbonically, as he feels full carbonic would mask the terroir (how refreshing is that idea?). Elevage is almost completely done in neutral Burgundy barrels (actually used Roumier barrels), with a tiny minority going into tank. None of the wines, although steeped into the “natural” wine category, don’t carry the traits that drive many of us away (feral, funky and sometimes, fecal). The wines feel pure, clean, refreshingly articulating place more than process.
Given how young and new Antoine is to the picture, his 2016’s are, without question, stupidly impressive. Of course, it also helps that 2016 was an absolute brilliant vintage as well.
For anyone who enjoys the charms of Gamay, Antoine’s remarkable Beaujolais will be hard to resist. Plus, who knows, maybe some of Rounier’s Musigny resin gets in there somehow!
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