Julien Sunier Régnié and a Focaccia Fail #Winophiles



I ❤️ Cru Beaujolais. These wines check so many boxes in what we’re often looking for in a wine, with food-friendliness likely topping that list of virtues. These wines just have so many different uses at the table. It’s also very nice that they tend not to break the bank.

We love all kinds of wines, but medium-bodied reds are probably the broad category we go through the most at home. We usually enjoy our wines with food and these just work with such a broad range. I love big reds as well, but they require a little more thought in pairing because they can easily overpower the wrong dish. These wines are also kind of seasonless. I believe in drinking whatever you want year-round, but there are points at the height of summer where I just can’t bear to even think about drinking a big red. On the flip side, while I do drink white and rosé wines in the winter, on really chilly nights I tend to gravitate towards red.

Cru Beaujolais also have this nice added feature that they kind of straddle fruity and earthy flavor profiles, which means they’ll go solidly well with a particularly wide range of foods. Looking for one bottle to pair with lots of different flavors at the table? Want to fill your rack with wines that will just work with dinner without having to give it any thought? Grab some Cru Beaujolais!

This map borrowed from WineFolly.com


I’ve covered France’s Beaujolais region a few times before – I went into the greatest depth on the details here – but here’s a quick recap. Gamay is the star grape. The Beaujolais Crus are communes or villages that have established a reputation for quality over time and each has its own personality. These villages get to have their name displayed on the label instead of Beaujolais. There are 10 in total and I’ve slowly been making my way through them. We’ve previously spotlighted wines from Morgon, as well its Côte du Py subregion, Chénas, Fleurie, and Saint-Amour. Today, we’re adding Régnié to the list! This will mark the half-way point in our journey through the Crus.



RÉGNIÉ

Régnié (pronounced “rehn-yay”) is the youngest of the crus – it gained its status in 1988. It’s also tiny, taking up just one square mile! The grapes are grown on hillsides with vineyards usually sitting at over 1,000 feet above sea level. The soils here are known for being mineral-rich and made up largely of pink granite. Despite being a small area, 80 growers produce wines in the area, making an average of 2 million bottles per year. It also boasts more organic vineyards and winemakers than any of the other Crus.

Even though Régnié is located right next to Morgon, one of the region’s largest and most famous crus, the personalities of the wines are nearly opposite. Where Morgon is known for bigger, more structured, savory wines that can age, Régnié is prized for being aromatic and bright. The wines also tend to show best when enjoyed early, usually within 3 to 5 years is recommended. The wines display red fruits like raspberries, cherries, and red currants, sometimes with a hint of peach, a touch of spice and minerality.



THE WINE

Today’s wine is the Julien Sunier Régnié 2018 and both Greg and I really enjoyed this one. 


Julien grew up in Dijon but had no family connections to wine. He really had no idea what he wanted to do when he finished up school. His mother was a hairdresser and one of her clients just happened to be famed Burgundy winemaker Christophe Roumier, who offered to take him on so he could “see what this wine stuff is all about." He caught the bug and went on to work for wineries in New Zealand and at Bonny Doon here in California, both locations which allowed him to indulge in his passion for surfing. Along the way, he also developed a deep respect for organic and biodynamic practices. Once he returned to France, he spent time working some other impressive names in Burgundy, then at a large negociant in Beaujolais where he got to know all 10 crus very well. 

He eventually set up his own domaine in 2008 with parcels in Fleurie, Morgon, and Régnié, working his vineyard according to his own organic and biodynamic principles. He’s become a big advocate for natural wine and is launching a mini-négociant project designed to help train young growers and winemakers how to work naturally in Beaujolais.

On the day we opened it, we picked up notes on the nose of dark raspberry, grape candy, black cherry, a touch of spice and flowers. There’s also an earthy meatiness which starts off stronger, but then quiets down and melts into the background. Greg described the palate as blackberry compote with black licorice, singed blackberry bramble, and dark flowers, and I thought he hit it pretty well although I’ll add a smattering of red berries and few sprigs of herbs to the mix. The fruit had a nice balance being just at the midpoint of being tart and ripe. For me, this wine gave off a pretty, coquettish vibe, like it was batting its eyelashes flirtatiously at me.

It was medium-bodied but smooth with plenty of fleshy fruit, medium alcohol, lots of freshness, and just enough tannins for a delicate grip on the finish.



THE PAIRING

You might’ve seen the wave of focaccia art going around the interwebs. Bakers decorate focaccia dough with veggies, nuts, and charcuterie arranged to look like beautiful scenes. Some of my girlfriends decided to make a quarantine cooking project out of trying our hand at this art form.

It’s also a perfect baking project to do with kids. My friend Jenny in NYC made these with her daughter Isa. 



I decided I’d combine my focaccia art attempt with this blog post, and would then try our wines with some different cheese and charcuterie options. I made a batch of dough using this recipe from King Arthur Flour, stretched it out on two sheet pans and let them rise in the fridge overnight, as indicated by the recipe. The next day, as the dough came up to temp out of the fridge, I gathered up different veggies I had around and cut them up and laid them out (this is a great way to use up leftover bits of veggies!), and then just let creativity take over.

I spent about an hour happily prepping veggies and assembling my first “masterpiece” into what looked like a floral quilt design. This type of craftiness is not really my strong suit, but I had fun playing around. At this point, I invited my darling husband into the kitchen for his input. Greg loves to backseat drive in the kitchen and I thought I’d be nice and give him the opportunity. This proved to be a very bad move. First, while he opted not to decorate his own, he happily critiqued my first attempt, lamenting that I had not applied a “rule of thirds” to my design.

🙄🙄🙄  

Then as he turned to leave the kitchen – which is small and often requires me to be creative about where I put things while working – he bumped into the precariously placed sheet pan with the focaccia I’d just decorated and sent it crashing to the ground.

🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🙄 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄

Luckily, he had kindly taken pictures on his phone of the original. 

My first attempt at foccaia art.

Luckily as well, I still had the second sheet pan of focaccia dough. I’d planned to keep number two simple with herbs, garlic, and onions, but now I added a simpler version of the first design on top of what I had. (It was starting to get late and we were getting hungry.)

My second attempt at focaccia art, pre-baking.


2nd attempt at focaccia art once baked. This sheet of focaccia was thinner than the first and ended up with some very thin browned sections where I stretched it a little too much.
It might seem a little gross, but I decided to bake the one that had crashed to the ground after removing the original toppings. I couldn’t bare the thought of wasting all of that flour right now and it was going into a super hot oven. Plus, no one was going to eat it besides the two of us. 

First focaccia, cleaned up and redecorated, after baking. Next time, I'll add the garlic slices towards the end of baking, as they toasted up a little too much.

It actually turned out pretty fine, so all's well that ends well I suppose. I’d absolutely do this again, but next time Greg can decorate his own and I’ll keep him far, far away from mine. 


We enjoyed a couple of cheeses and some ‘Ndjua alongside our focaccia and Régnié. Our first cheese was Marin French’s Petite Crème, a lovely, creamy brie style cheese. Located in West Marin County, Marin French started in 1865, making it the oldest continually operating cheese company in the US. Their Petite Crème is a go-to as it’s velvety and lightly tangy – pretty much just what you want in a triple cream brie style cheese.

Cheese number two was a drunken goat cheese treated with the marc of Traminer wine from Perenzín Latteria in Italy’s Veneto region. Perenzín has been making cheese since in 1898, and I actually had the chance to visit last year and I hope to share more with you about that visit soon. This cheese is complex with layers of flavors. It’s tangy and salty with herbal and floral notes mixed in. I think the wine marc also add a little bit of a fruity to note to the cheese. 



Greg and I were kind of split on which cheese went better with the wine, Greg slightly preferring the Traminer goat cheese, me slightly preferring the combo with the Petite Crème. We both agreed though, that it made a pretty solid match with both. Personally, I found that the pairing with Petite Crème brought out the wine’s silky side and highlighted a lavender flavor. On the other hand, the cheese from Perenzín brought out darker, more savory notes in the wine teasing out black olive and umami flavors.

I figured the pairing was going to be a stretch with our spicy ‘Ndjua salami from Journeyman Meat Co., given that heat can be tricky to pair with wine. However, these days, we roll with what we have around. The spice did overpower the wine a bit, but it wasn’t half bad. It did better than expected. I’ll note as well that the wine paired very nicely with the black olives on our focaccia.

This spread happily helps show that the Cru Beaujolais tend to make a pretty solid wine choice, regardless of what pairing you throw at them. We found this one incredibly delightful and it proved particularly versatile.


If you want to try making focaccia art at home, here are a few articles that can help guide you: 

 

OTHER POSSIBILITIES


The winery recommends this wine with “a good paté or dried sausage.” As well, I found this handy set of pairing recommendations for the wines of Régnié on DiscoverBeaujolais.com


In addition, check out these previous pairings for Cru Beaujolais.

Wines from this region are also mentioned in these posts, which also include additional pairings.




THE GEEKY DETAILS


A lot of the details appear right on the bottle for this wine, which you can see here.




Here are a few additional notes on the winemaking.

Vinification & Elevage:  Indigenous yeast fermentations in concrete vats at low temperatures, to preserve fresh fruit flavors and a delicate tannic structure. After fermentations are complete, fruit is slowly pressed, over a 24 hour period, using an ancient vertical press Julien acquired in the Côte D’Or.

Aging: 20% aged in cement and 80% in neutral French barrels.

Julien Sunier uses all organic farming practices, although this site is still under conversion for certification.

You can find lots of additional details as well for this wine on the winery’s website, as well as on the websites for Polaner Selections and Floraison Selections.  Of note is the fact that the vineyard site is located on the famed Cote du Py hillside on edge of the Morgon appellation.



MONEY TALK


I purchased this wine from Minimo in Jack London Square here in Oakland for $32 (the average price on Wine-Searcher.com for this vintage is $35. It’s a little pricier than some Cru Beaujolais (although not as pricey as others) but it’s carefully made from a conscientious winemaker using natural techniques and we both really enjoyed it. I’d say it’s a very worthy Attainable Indulgence!



PRO TIP


One more plus side to Beaujolais, in general, is that many can easily take a light chill, making them a perfect choice as we start to roll into warmer weather.


Photo credit on the majority of these pics to Greg Hudson.

*****

The rest of the French #Winophiles blogging group is exploring Cru Beaujolais wine this month as well, led by Cindy of Grape Experiences. Be sure to check out their posts to better get to know more of the crus!






 This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, from which I might earn a commission at no cost to you.

 


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22 comments

  1. This description - "blackberry compote with black licorice" - is one of the most evocative I've read. Kudos to Greg! And that focaccia art is much, much better than anything I could do!

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  2. Oh goodness, I love this!!! I've had the Julien Sunier before and thoroughly enjoyed it - with the focaccia I can imagine how delicious it tasted. (I've also had wine from Regnie with kidneys and mashed potatoes for lunch with two winemakers in the village...their expressions when I tasted those kidneys were priceless) I love your artwork, too -excellent!!

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    1. Thanks so much Cindy. That lunch sounds very fun indeed. And thanks for hosting this topic -- always happy for an excuse to drink Beaujo Cru! (Not that I really need one.)

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  3. Very versatile pairings you have displayed with your Julien Sunier Régnié 2018. The pizza is a piece of visual arts...and my daughter was curious when seeing your photo. She wants to replicate! For me, I'm totally obsessed with this drunken goat cheese treated with the marc of Traminer wine you had. Can't wait to try a Régnié.

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    1. Thanks Pinny. The focaccia was a fun project (despite Greg's trashing my work) and I think my friend Jenny really had fun making her versions with her daughter, so I think she'd definitely recommend.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your focaccia art - it made me smile and boosted my spirits! I bet they were tasty, too.

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    1. Thanks for saying so Lauren -- and they were tasty, accidents and all.

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  5. Seasonless- great way to describe these wines Nicole. I could hear that pan of focaccia crash! But the save looks very appetizing ;-D

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    1. Thanks Lynn! And everything did turn out tasty in the end. :-)

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  6. Your cheese pairings sound amazing. I enjoyed all the details of the pairing and how both the wine and cheese were enhanced in different ways. Also between you and Greg, your description of the wine is beautiful.
    I did find a pack of yeast the other day...perhaps I will try a foccacia!

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  7. I had fun with the focaccia art thing as it went around recently, but I'm mostly interested in how it tastes! I love the Sunier wines (both brothers), and get them via Caveau Selections. Good choice!

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    1. It is was fun and I thought it was very tasty, but next time I'd make it a little less thin. Hope your turned out well. I will be on the look out for the younger Sunier now -- Thanks for heads up!

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  8. I absolutely love the foccacia idea! My kids would love this! Regnie is one of the crus I'm still yet to try but hopefully can try one soon.

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    1. I think it would be a perfect kid project! Cheers Kat!

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  9. Floor-schmoor! 5-, or 50-, second rule, and also, a little kitchen floor topping never hurt anyone! Régnié definitely has my attention and I will get a bottle to try. That and Chénas are the two Crus I've never had, certainly looking forward to both.

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    1. I totally agree. Thanks Payal! And hope you find them soon.

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  10. I love how food-friendly the Cru Beaujolais wines are. I have yet to try my hand at the focaccia art, but your designs are very impressive! I will be on the look out for Sunier wines, the back story is a good one!

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    1. I totally agree Jane! And yeah, the decorating was fun, even with accidents.

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  11. Oh my word, the focaccia art is hilarious. I've made focaccia so many times but never once thought to make an art project of it! Also, you've inspired me to find some Reigne with some teriyaki chicken. Please let me know where you found the bottle!!!

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  12. I love your description of Cru Beaujolais as kind of "seasonless". That's my kind of wine. Thank for the introduction to "Régnié. I don't believe I've had the pleasure!

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Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!