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Producer Focus: Julien Courtois

Julien Courtois, following in his father Claude's footsteps, created his own vineyard, Le Clos de la Bruyère, in 1998. Based in Soings en Sologne, the 4.5 hectare domain is run by Julien and his girlfriend, Heidi Kuka*.

Julien works with seven varieties of grapes, including an ungrafted Menu Pineau, an autoctonous variety planted in 1978, which is used to make the  Originel.

Julien adheres strictly to the principle of making wines from low-yield vineyards, so the wines can be as concentrated as possible. Low yields and natural fermentations using a 'pied-de-cuve' also tends towards imbibing the wine with 'minerality', that imperceptible term which imbues the drinker with a sense of mystery and an undeniable sense of quality.  All vineyard and cellar work is guided by the natural rhythms of nature, working only by hand with virtually no mechanisation. Chemical treatments are eschewed in favour of plant-based remedies.  Julien does as he feels and as he senses, always with the health of the land and the vine uppermost in his mind.  He is not aiming to please the customer, he is making wine for his own sake and for his own passion.  'We make wines that are different, natural and rich from the values provided by a sane wine-making process,' Julien explains. 'Whether in the vineyards or in the cellar, wines are made without any chemical products, which gives them a unique and singular taste.'


Julien says: 'From the vine to the bottle, each stage of production meets the requirements of quality natural wines without compromise.'  In winter, in order to limit yields, vines are pruned 'short'. In spring, it is mowing and maintenance of vineyards. Again no chemicals or pesticides. Everything is done in respect of the environment and done by Julien's own hand, he rarely leaves his vines and most of his work is done alone with the help of his family.

To ensure traditional and natural wine-making, the grapes are harvested at an optimum maturity, not early picked to create the 'tension' hat has become fashionable in the region.  The wines have incredible natural balance and acidity from the low yields, the health and quality of the soil and from Julien's understanding of how to look after his vineyard. 'We produce wines without artifices such as sugaring, acidification and concentration. The result is honest wines, with a strong character that will delight wine lovers of authentic terroir.'

Drinking Courtois is one of those rare wine experiences which make you feel privileged to be tasting something special produced by someone unique.

View the full range of Julien Courtois wines here


*The gorgeous labels are produced by Julien's partner Heidi Kuka who was born in New Zealand. Her father is of Maori descent and her artwork is a wonderful combination of European art with a Maori twist.