Rare Carneros Chardonnay Evokes Grand Cru Chablis
When Robert Parker raved that a Julien Fayard wine he’d tasted “just has it all. It is really a wine to diagram and analyze over and over to see what true perfection really is,” I wasn’t surprised. Julien is one of the first people I met in Napa, and I’ve seen what he’s capable of since working alongside Philippe Melka at Dalla Valle, Gemstone, and Lail when he was a perennial 95+ scoring talent. But there’s no question that Parker’s comments can be applied to Fayard’s 2013 Nicholson Jones Chardonnay, a rich, mineral-driven white drawn off prized vines in the Dolly Hill portion of the lauded Truchard Vineyard in Carneros (also a source for Nickel and Nickel). There are only two places to acquire it: from the winery or at $30 per bottle, here on Wine Access.
All it took was a small miracle, and Cal Nicholson knew he had his man. When the fermentation in one of Nicholson’s 2005 wines stuck, an acquaintance introduced him to Julien Fayard, a French-born winemaker with Quintessa and Lafite-Rothschild on his resume who had just made Napa his permanent home. According to Cal, Fayard “did his magic,” Nicholson’s 2005 vintage was saved, and their partnership — and an unbreakable trust — was born.
That trust was essential as Fayard worked at, and finally succeeded in, persuading the skeptical Nicholson to get on board with making a Burgundian-styled Chardonnay. When the pair found Tony Truchard’s Dolly Hill Vineyard, they knew they had found what they were looking for. The result is a beautiful Grand Cru Chablis-inspired Chardonnay made with native yeast, and without oak or malo. In the blockbuster vintage of 2013, the grapes ripened perfectly in Truchard’s relatively warm spot in Carneros, and are bursting with vibrant acidity.
Julien Fayard’s resume is heavy with accolades for his mouthwatering 98-100-point red wines off Beckstoffer To Kalon (the final results are not in yet, but he’s one point away from perfection), and all his expert touch — and restraint — is on full display in this exquisite Old World-inspired white.
Vanessa Conlin DipWSET
Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma
Stage 2 Master of Wine Student