Robert Parker called the 2014 Purlieu Cabernet Sauvignon a “real knock-out” and a “superb example of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon” in his 94-point review. The winemaking superstar behind this praise is Philippe Melka protégé Julien Fayard, who under Melka’s tutelage made wines for Dalla Valle, Métisse, Lail, and Gemstone. His master craftsmanship is on full display with this blockbuster Cabernet fruit drawn off a quartet of all-star vineyards — Beckstoffer To Kalon, Missouri Hopper, Martinez, and Teucer. The result “hits the palate with authority, serious extract and richness,” says Parker. Napa Cabernets of this quality and pedigree usually command triple digits — this one from Wine Spectator’s “dream vintage” does not.
Fayard’s ascent into the elite circle of Napa Valley Cabernet-makers is no surprise. After completing his masters degree in enology, the Saint-Etienne native was snapped up by Château Lafite-Rothschild to help manage vineyard operations. A year later, Julien moved to Napa Valley, landing a cellar job at Quintessa. In 2006, in a stroke of career-shaping fortune, Fayard met and was then hired by Philippe Melka, assuming the role of managing director at Atelier Melka. Over the next seven years, working side by side with Philippe, Fayard would help shape the world-class Cabernet Sauvignons of Dalla Valle, Métisse, Lail, and Gemstone.
The lessons learned at Lafite and with Melka allow Fayard to take complete advantage of what Wine Spectator called “a dream vintage.” His approach to making Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon much resembles that of his mentors. Working with fruit drawn off the most priceless sites in the valley, Fayard is one of the very few winemakers who consistently turns out powerful Cabernets that straddle the line between the Old World and the New. Always deeply colored and intensely concentrated, Fayard’s wines are perfectly polished, sleek, and suave.