Although still young, wine growing for Antoine Sunier is actually his second career. Unlike his brother Julien, initially Antoine took the more conservative route of working for a telecommunications company after finishing college. His brother established his own winery in 2008 and Antoine began helping out when he was in the area. The pull of the wine world was too strong and in 2012 he decided to study in Beaune and then to work internships with Domaine Lapalu in Beaujolais and Chateau de Prémeaux in the Côte d’Or.
With the purchase of a house, cellar and a small vineyard in Régnié, Antoine Sunier set up shop in 2014. Antoine’s Beaujolais debut in 2014 began with two wines, one from Régnié and one from Morgon. The Régnié comes from 2.7 Ha in the lieux-dits of Les Forchets, le Potet, and Montmerond with an average vine age of 45 years, while the Morgon comes from 1.2 Ha of 60+ year old vines from Croix de Chevre in the Grand Cras. Antoine admits that his brother played an instrumental role in helping him get set up, finding some choice parcels and sourcing all his equipment for the vineyards and cellar. Thanks to Julien’s contacts, the vineyards themselves had all been extremely well maintained and farmed organically; the Régnié in “official conversion” and the Morgon certified for more than a decade.
The winemaking at Antoine Sunier starts with hand-harvesting and careful sorting of the bunches in the vineyard. Fermentations occur using the traditional carbonic maceration method in a closed vat with no de-stemming and only indigenous yeasts are used. The fermentations last between 8-15 days, at which point the grapes are pressed and flow by gravity into a combination of 80-90% used Burgundy barrels (8+ years old) and epoxy-lined concrete tanks. The élévage lasts 7-8 months, at which point the wines are bottled without fining and filtration and only a small addition of SO2 (20ppm) at the mise.
Stylistically, it is tempting to compare the wines of Antoine to those of Julien. There is an obvious kinship of spirit and technique that overlaps between the two domaines, not to mention actual “shared hands” in the wine making process. But as Antoine says, “we are working with different terroirs, in a respectful and organic way, so there will always be differences”. Both producers walk the line between power and finesse, meatiness and grace. There is lovely fruit, but also a clear mineral underpinning or backbone, which adds to the beautiful aromatic and textural lift present in the wines. Antoine feels the wines should age well in the mid-term, certainly 8-10+ years easily. Indeed, it is clear there is a bright future for this exciting young domaine!