Julien Delrieu

Julien Delrieu

VigneronJulien Delrieu
LocationFaveray-Mâchelles (Maine-et-Loire)
Size of Domaine3.5 ha
TerroirContinental climate with Atlantic influence. Sandy decomposed schist topsoil on schist bedrock, gravel and clay in some parcels. Gentle slopes, 50-100m altitude.
ViticulturePractising biodynamic
View Julien Delrieu wines ↓

We first met Julien Delrieu in 2014 when he was the driving force behind Les Roches Sèches, a domaine he created with two friends. He set out on his own in 2018 with 3.5ha of vines around Faveraye-Mâchelles, quickly gaining international recognition and becoming a vigneron of reference in the Anjou Noir.

Julien is a kind, sensitive and soft-spoken grower with a strong thirst for knowledge: as well as being a beekeeper (a passion depicted on his labels), he studied winemaking in Dijon, brewed beer with monks in Belgium, made cheese in Italy and researched sake yeasts in Japan!

Returning to France he chose the Loire for its proximity to Brittany (where he grew up), and worked with two Vouvray growers, Vincent Carême and Sébastien Brunet, getting acquainted with chenin on limestone soils (Anjou Blanc). Moved by wines from Richard Leroy and Mark Angéli among others, and enthralled by the electric quality of chenin on schist (Anjou Noir), Julien chose the then affordable Coteaux du Layon for his first project in 2010 – Les Roches Sèches.

01_Vine_Trail_Julien_Delrieu_5_3 The neighbours

Nowadays the domaine’s plots are scattered around Faveraye-Mâchelles (think Stéphane Bernaudeau) in five lieux-dits – old vines of chenin, grolleau, cab franc & sauvignon have been farmed organically for many years; the yields are low, giving top-quality grapes which in return produce characterful wines.

Julien vinifies in a barn at the back of a farm in the lieu-dit La Gaucherie, a rudimentary DIY set up where wild-yeasts fermentations and ageing are carried out in a mix of fibreglass, stainless steel and oak. Sulphur is kept to a bare minimum if used at all.

Year after year Julien keeps progressing and confirms his status as 'grand vigneron' among his peers; his wines are a joy to drink with an incredible sapidity and a sense of freedom.

N.B. In 2022 Julien partnered up (again) with his mate Thibaut Ducleux (ex Les Roches Sèches) "to increase precision in the day-to-day work and hopefully take the domaine to new heights!"

Trial blending of Le Jeau Rouge

Julien Delrieu Wines

Vin de France
100% Chenin Blanc
100% Chenin Blanc (13% alc.)
(13% alc.)

Lieu-dit Pont Bourceau planted in 1973 – the plot is usually harvested in three 'passages' and the resulting juice of the first one makes the cuvée Pont Bourceau; it is fermented and aged in fibreglass and stainless steel, usually bottled without SO2 in February/March. This is a 'vin de printemps' – fresh and quaffable with a schist stamp that brings drive to the palate.

LA JOUE 2020/21
Vine de France
100% Chenin Blanc
100% Chenin Blanc (13.5% alc.)
(13.5% alc.)

The grapes also come from the lieu-dit Pont Bourceau but are harvested one to two weeks later (during the following two 'tries' – see cuvée Pont Bourceau). Half of the wine is fermented and aged in 228ltr barrels (bought from local hero and friend Stéphane Bernaudeau), it was bottled without fining or filtration. Julien decided to blend the rich and deep 2020 with the zingy and lifted 2021 to achieve balance and complexity – this is a textural and food-friendly chenin with a bone-marrow-like protein quality. Of note: La Joue is the name of Julien’s father’s farm in the Pyrenées.

LE JEAU 2022
Vin de France
100% Chenin Blanc
100% Chenin Blanc (14% alc.)
(14% alc.)

Lieu-dit Le Jeau planted in 1955 – a west-facing schist slope overlooking the Lys river (that flows into the Layon). Interestingly, this plot is adjacent to Les Nourrissons of Bernaudeau fame. Fermented and aged in old 228ltr barrels with no SO2 added, this is the top chenin at the domaine, often harvested mid to end of September, it combines power and structure with salty bitters enhanced by a lengthy electric mineral stamp. Attention grand vin!

Vin de France
60% Grolleau, 40% Cabernet Franc
60% Grolleau, 40% Cabernet Franc (12.5% alc.)
(12.5% alc.)

This is a blend of grapes from two different lieux-dits: Le Jeau (see cuvée Le Jeau), and Saint-Martin on deep gravelly soil with a good proportion of clay. Each variety is vinified separately in fibreglass vats, whole bunches are lightly foot-trodden and macerate for a week with one pigeage a day by hand. Bottled without fining or filtration, 10mg/l SO2 might be added. A delicious spicy and juicy fruit with high drinkability.

Previous Grower ← Michel Delhommeau
Next Grower Bertrand Galbrun →