Honoring the Lessons of Lafite-Rothschild
“This wine is allocated.” That is how the Purlieu Wines website politely tells seekers of Julien Fayard’s Cabernets that they are basically out of luck. Case in point is the winery’s 2015 To Kalon Beckstoffer Vineyard, awarded 98-100 points from Robert Parker who gushed that the wine “just has it all. It is really a wine to diagram and analyze over and over to see what true perfection really is.” Philippe Melka protégé, Fayard’s 2014 Le Pich — crafted by the same hands and sourced from many of the same stellar sites as Purlieu — was described by Parker as a “a sleeper of the vintage,” a “generous, and irresistible” Napa Cabernet. A mere 400 cases produced — 150 of them are exclusive to Wine Access.
In 2014, the Napa growing season that inspired Wine Spectator to call it “a dream vintage,” Julien Fayard’s Bordeaux training was on full display. He’d spent time at Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Smith Haut Lafitte, then moved to Napa in 2006. After working at Quintessa, Fayard went to work alongside Bordeaux native Philippe Melka, whose glowing resume includes time at Château Haut-Brion and Napa’s Right Bank-steeped Dominus.
In Fayard’s work, the lessons of Lafite still rule: attention to detail and restraint in the cellar. But his years in Napa, working with Melka on projects like Gemstone, Dalla Valle, and Lail, have provided Fayard with the things that make confident restraint possible: an understanding of the valley’s vineyards, and relationships with top growers. These relationships allow Fayard to source top-flight fruit for Purlieu from sites like Pritchard Hill and To Kalon.