A relatively young operation, Cave Julien Cécillion, kicked things off in 2011 not long after Julien and Nancy met in California. Julien returned to France to his home in Tournon-sur-Rhone, directly across the Rhone River from the famous town of Tain l’Hermitage in the Hermitage region. Nancy, an American who had grown up in Houston and had the wine bug take her all over the globe, wasn’t far behind.
For an interesting and light-hearted window into who Julien and Nancy are, here is a link to an article with an embedded video profiling their union and passion for each other and their wines (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dark-rye/a-bout-de-vin-the-end-of-_b_2765767.html). I can attest, having enjoyed a multi-course, multi-hour, multi-wine, multi-everything, Sunday evening dinner with them at Auberge du Pere Monnet in Glun last November, they are as genuine, fun-loving, committed and thoughtful as this story makes them out to be. It is who they are that makes having them a part of the BWS family so enriching.
What makes it even better -- they also happen to produce beautiful, elegant Syrah. They produce three different Syrahs. St. Joseph “Babylone,” that is 100% Syrah from vineyards in Saint Jean de Muzols in Tournon, that are 25 and 115 years-old respectively. This is the most serious of Julien and Nancy’s Syrahs, with structure and depth that showcase the purity of the Saint Joseph fruit. Next is their Crozes-Hermitage “Les Marguerites.” 100% Syrah from a small parcel just shy of a hectare. The vineyard is on the back side of the hill of Hermitage and faces southeast. These vines are almost 80 years old and the wine is higher-toned with more “nervosité” than the Saint Joseph. And finally, they produce a 100% Vin de Pays Syrah from a 65-year old vineyard from which they source the fruit. This is an easy going style of Syrah as you’d expect from its VdP heritage, but it’s still very expressive and pure. As Julien remarked during our tasting, his uncle, the famed Northern Rhone vigneron Jean-Louis Grippa, would consider the VdP his “morning wine.” The reason we brought in all three versions is because across the board, the quality of all of them was high, and they can play different roles with different foods at different occasions.
I’m not going to wax on about their white wine at this point, since their production is so small (and we don’t have any), but suffice it to say, if we get the chance to bring in their 100% Marsanne based Saint Joseph “Victoria,” we will buy all we can get – which I can tell you won’t be very much.
All of Julien and Nancy’s vineyards are tended in a sustainable fashion and are harvested manually. They use only indigenous yeast during fermentation. Given the relatively cooler growing regions where their vineyards sit, their Syrahs are made in a fresh style with exceptional tension with each reflecting their own geographic identity.