Created 3 years ago, Junart is a dating site a bit special. A link between winegrowers and artists, Junart has already organised happy weddings: Cassius & Johann Michel, Jean-Michel Tixier & Château Fleur Cardinale, Nasty & Johann Michel... Interview with its young founder, Junior Parado, on the occasion of his next exhibition with Jean-Michel Tixier, artist illustrator, in Lyon on December 12th.
I was born in Lyon. This town is surrounded by beautiful wine regions: the northern Rhône valley, Beaujolais and Savoie. My parents always drank wine and they made us taste good bottles for our birthdays. I also have a passionate uncle, who is co-owner in certain domains, notably in the Cornas and Saint Joseph appellations.
So it was born in the family circle, then at table with friends at 17-18, then with blind tastings in a restaurant in Lyon when I came back from London where I was studying. With my first paycheck, I think I bought myself my first box of Côte-Rôtie to put in the cellar.
The North Rhone Valley is my heart region, the Syrah grape variety has always appealed to me. But I drink it all. I love wines from Burgundy, Jura, Savoy, Loire, Bordeaux, Italian wines, Australian wines too. My sister lives in Australia, I've been to see her about ten times. We even exhibited, with Jean-Michel Tixier, in a wine bar in Melbourne "The Alps", the owner being passionate about French wine, the Alps and Tintin!
It's quite similar, wine is an artistic work. When wine appeals to emotions, memories, sensations, it is art. There are real artists among winegrowers and conversely, real winegrowers among artists!
The launch party for the first Junart collaboration took place in December 2016 at the Hôtel Grand Amour in Paris with Johann Michel, a winemaker in Cornas and long-time friend, and Parisian graffiti artist Nasty.
Originally, music is my passion and after working for an independent music label in Paris for 3 years, I moved to Hong Kong where international music is not very developed. As a result, we set up a wine bar concept store for two years. I wanted to refocus on more natural things and wine was the obvious choice. There, the graffiti artist Nasty often came, he painted spray bottles that were given as gifts to certain customers.
When I returned to France, the idea came to me to make the wooden crate a work of art. It then seemed logical to develop several products:
So far the three big collaborations have been Cassius & Johann Michel, Jean-Michel Tixier & Château Fleur Cardinale, Nasty & Johann Michel. There was also the creation of limited edition labels for a young winemaker in Savoie, Céline Jacquet, as well as a film collection for the Clos San Quilico in Corsica at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
I work a lot with Jean-Michel Tixier because he is a friend and he loves wine. We try to make very limited edition vintages and more affordable things that can be drunk straight away.
There are many projects in progress but it takes a lot of time between the planning of the winegrowers and the artists. Collaborations can take between 6 weeks and 1 year or even 1 year and a half, it is enough to miss a vintage or to make custom wooden boxes.
I choose the artist because I like his work: this is the first step.
If the artist agrees with the project, there are discussions and tastings to determine which wines he likes. Then we think about a theme. Usually you only approach one winemaker. Some winegrowers don't want to collaborate, I totally understand that. For them, and I fully respect that, wine is what's in the bottle and it doesn't need any extra tricks.
Then, it is really an exchange between the winemaker and the artist to find a guideline: for Cassius, a play on the words "Cornassius"; for Château Fleur Cardinale, portraits of celebrities and for Nasty, a graffiti painted on a wall of boxes.
It had long been planned to exhibit at Sauf Imprévu, Félix Gagnaire's restaurant, but our schedules hadn't allowed it until now.
Two special vintages with labels revisited by Jean-Michel have been created for the occasion by Bastien Jolivet, winemaker in Saint-Jean de Muzols.
We've been wanting to make a Saint-Joseph for a long time too, because it's one of Jean-Michel and myself's favourite wines. It was a sommelier friend who introduced me to this young winemaker, I immediately liked his wines and I have been following him for 5 years. He took over his father's vineyards in 2014 after studying in South Africa and New Zealand. Doing something together had become a matter of course.
And to get bottles, it's always live via Junart.
By Chloé QUEFFEULOU