Julie Balagny has been in Beaujolais since 2009. She previously worked a decent stint at the biodynamic estate, Terres Des Chardons in Costières de Nîmes, before moving to Beaujolais to start her own domaine. With the help of friend (and renowned vigneron) Yvon Metras, she managed to find a secluded parcel of 3.2 hectares surrounded by woods, in Fleurie. There are 3 different soil types here: pure granite mixed with pebbles and sand, granite and quartz, and granite with basalt. The vines are aged between 30 and 100 years old.
In 2015, she managed to purchase two more plots – 0.7 hectares of old vines in Moulin-à-Vent, planted in 1913 - here the soils are granite and quartz. And one hectare of Beaujolais vines (in the commune of Émeringes), planted in 1956, on clay, sand and pebbles.
The vineyard work is organic, and everything has to be done by hand due to the steep slopes on which the vines grow. In the cellar, the grapes undergo carbonic maceration, and there is no punching down or pumping over. Julie has a massive, 120-year old American wooden press – it is huge and requires two people and a lot of physical labour to gently squeeze the grapes. Élevage then takes place underground in old barrels. No additives are used at all - previously Julie had experimented with SO2, trialling different barrels with different (minuscule) amounts, and some with none. She couldn't tell the difference, so now she uses none at all.
The array of aromas can be mind-boggling in some of her wines, and these perfumes can rival some of the finest Burgundies. The 2012 Fleurie 'Chavot' that I drank in Beaune a couple of years ago was incredibly moving - I have never gained such satisfaction from the perfume of any Beaujolais wine like that before. And the sensation you get from drinking these wines can be indescribable - more than listing tasting notes, it's more of a feeling that you get from the wines - something magical. They can be amazing to drink young, but if you have patience then you will reap the rewards! These are cult wines, and extremely difficult to find in any part of the world.