Rare Carneros Chardonnay Evokes Grand Cru Chablis
Robert Parker has said of one of Julien Fayard’s Purlieu wines: It “just has it all. It is really a wine to diagram and analyze over and over to see what true perfection really is.” Critical love has established Fayard, who worked alongside Philippe Melka at Dalle Valle, Gemstone, and Lail, as a perennial 95+ scoring talent. Fayard’s 2013 Nicholson Jones Chardonnay comes from the special Dolly Hill portion of the top-flight Truchard Vineyard in Carneros, also prized by Nickel and Nickel for their $50 Truchard Chardonnay. Fayard’s deft touch has yielded a rich, mineral, yet mouth-filling unoaked Chardonnay, as he says himself, “it has the palate weight and mouth coating viscosity of a Grand Cru Chablis, and in a similar sense is both big, yet refreshingly light on its feet.” It is impossible to obtain this 2013 rare gem anywhere besides the winery and 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 red wines, and his expert touch — and restraint — shine in this exquisite Old World-inspired white. Or as Cal Nicholson calls it, “a California Chardonnay for those who have given up on California Chardonnay.”