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Domaine
Cruchandeau

Burgundy
Organic

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It is not everyday one must choose between the life in the vines and that of a touring electronic music artist, however this is the story of Julien Cruchandeau. Nestled in the heart of Burgundy, where the terroir whispers stories of tradition and excellence, Domaine Cruchandeau emerges as a testament to the marriage of passion and craftsmanship. Born in Chenôve in 1978, Julien's journey into winemaking unfolded organically, leading him to become one of Burgundy's most talented winemakers of his generation.

 

Despite lacking a winemaking lineage, Julien's early fascination with taste, aromas, and flavours led him to pursue a culinary path. Graduating with a specialisation in hospitality in 1997, he embarked on a journey through high-end establishments in France and England, including a stint as a waiter in a prestigious London brasserie. It was here that he delved into the intricate world of global cuisines and wines.

 

Returning to Burgundy in 2000, Julien pursued a two-year course in oenology and viticulture while gaining practical experience at Domaine Seguin in Gevrey-Chambertin. By 2001, at the young age of 23, he assumed the role of estate manager and winemaker at Domaine France Lechenault in Bouzeron. Overseeing the entire winemaking process, Julien's efforts caught the attention of wine critics, with his name featured in the Guide Hachette in 2002, along with winning a gold award at the Concours des vins de la Côte Chalonnaise in 2005.

 

In 2003, Julien established Domaine Cruchandeau, procuring his initial vines in the lesser-known Bouzeron appellation and invested in all the essential winemaking equipment. Having already conquered one underdog, and seeking to expand his land under vine, he moved to the Hautes Cotes de Nuits in 2007, settling in the village of Chaux. Perhaps controversial at the time, the move turned out to be a stroke of genius given growing conditions are increasingly favourable toward the higher slopes of Burgundy.

 

Throughout this time, Julien's artistic journey extended beyond winemaking; he co-founded the Shrink Orchestra, showcasing his talents as an electronic music artist. This adventure, spanning from 2004 to 2010, included around 200 concerts across Europe and the creation of his record label, Guls Records. However, in 2010, Julien chose the secateurs over the drumsticks, devoting his career to winemaking.

 

Julien's winemaking philosophy centres on showcasing the potential of lesser-known appellations. He champions the under-appreciated, crafting wines that reflect the unique terroirs of 9 appellations including Nuits Saint Georges ‘Aux St Jacques’, Bouzeron, Hautes Cotes de Nuits, Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Hameau de Blagny’, Savigny les Beaune, Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru 'Le Bas des Duresses' and Ladoix. These vines equate to a small domaine covering approximately 4.5 hectares, with Julien's artisanal approach and meticulous attention to detail shining through. His commitment to organic farming is the centrepiece of his approach, eschewing chemical fertilisers since 2011. Harvesting is carried out later in the season, and by hand to ensure only the finest grapes reach the winery.

 

The wines are made as naturally as possible with indigenous yeasts fermentation, following traditional methods while applying a few modern winemaking techniques, including temperature control. Maturation is undergone for 8 to 18 months, depending on the vintage, in vats or old French oak barrels with some lees aging for whites and not too much batonnage. Reds are vinified with light infusion including foot crushing for 3 to 6 weeks and some 50% whole bunches to no whole bunches depending on the cuvee and the vintage. The wines are bottled after a light filtration, except for the Nuits-Saint-Georges, which remains unfiltered. 

 

A standout feature of Julien's winemaking journey is his dedication to the often-overlooked grape variety, Aligoté. His Bouzeron 'Massale' and Hautes Cotes de Nuits Aligote wines exemplify the potential of this grape, with the former gifted by the godfather of Burgundy himself, Aubert De Villaine in a joint effort to shine a light on Bouzeron. Today with the collective ‘Les Aligoteurs’ lead by famous vignerons such as Sylvain Pataille, Julien Cruchandeau and his friends are making Aligoté shine.

 

Julien's wines, characterised by their aromatic, depth, purity, and pretty qualities, have positioned him as one of the region’s most exceptional winemakers. His ability to unlock the potential of lesser-known appellations highlights both his skill and unwavering commitment to Burgundy's rich winemaking heritage. For lovers of Burgundy, and the underdog, these are wines truly worth seeking out.