Today, I am positively thrilled to announce one of the most exciting new offers ever on Wine Access: the 2013 Favia Wines Quarzo Syrah. Favia is the namesake project of one of Napa’s greatest power couples—Andy Erickson and Annie Favia. Only recently have Annie and Andy opened up their cellars to Wine Access, and landing an allocation of Quarzo is a coup unlike almost any other. But, wait, it gets better:
Andy and Annie are offering up the 2013 and 2014 vintages of Quarzo—as well as the 2013 and 2014 vintages of Rompecabezas to Wine Access clients. We’ll be releasing each vintage one at a time, over the next couple of months. Think of this as a chance to lock in a mini-vertical showcasing Parker’s “game-changer” 2013 vintage and Spectator’s “dream” 2014 vintage. Stylistically, Quarzo is the couple’s Northern Rhône-inspired gem, while Rompecabezas is their ode the Southern-Rhone’s warmth and generosity—but both are crafted for lovers of Napa opulence. Of the 284 cases produced of 2013 Quarzo, our allocation is a tiny fraction of that offered at $75 per bottle.
Why is this so special, and why do these wines belong in every serious wine lover’s possession? Here’s why.
The Power Couple
Andy’s first winemaking job was with John Kongsgaard at Newton, and then Bob Levy of Harlan scooped him up to assist at BOND. Later, he became the winemaker at Ovid, Arietta, Screaming Eagle, and Dalla Valle. Annie’s viticultural work began with David Abreu, shepherding Napa’s Grand Cru vineyards for Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Ovid, Sloan, Bryant, Colgin, and Staglin.
The Silent “No Hype” Release
Together in 2003, Andy and Annie quietly launched Favia, which stands as a reflection of the couple’s most dedicated work. Sourced from the celebrated gem of Shake Ridge Ranch in the Sierra foothills, Quarzo is vinified at the couple’s tiny home winery in Coombsville. It is focused, savory, muscular and dense, and shows tons of smoky and exotic aromatic complexity. Quarzo truly walks beautifully between two worlds: It’s a Northern Rhône-inspired gem crafted for lovers of Napa opulence.
Favia was not launched by hyping the 100-point and near-perfect critical scores that Andy Erickson has accumulated. In fact, for the first several years, no Favia wines were even submitted for review. Instead, Andy and Annie—who have laid their hands on some of the highest-profile wines in California for two decades now—started Favia with a whisper, offering the wines exclusively to their mailing list and a handful of select restaurants. Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry was one of their strongest early supporters.
Mailing list members and Michelin-level diners were thrilled, naturally, and word started leaking out. Press followed. But the coverage didn’t just focus on the predictable—husband and wife, two top Napa talents, teaming up for a project—but also on Favia’s unique vineyard sources. Instead of focusing strictly on Napa, Favia would also explore the potential of the ancient granite soils of the Sierre Foothills, where Favia and Erickson could apply their expertise to something that is tough to find in Napa: A vineyard source that feels natural, wild, and far-flung—the kind that is kindling a sense of discovery not only in them, but in California luminaries like Helen Keplinger of (Carte Blanche, Grace Family, Bryant) and Morgan Twain-Peterson MW (Bedrock Wine Co.) who came to Shake Ridge once Favia and Erickson had discovered its potential. Amador County was that place—“where the good stuff is,” according to Erickson.
Anne Kraemer’s Shake Ridge Ranch in Amador County consists of hills and valleys that result in vineyards of different aspects. Straddling a ridge at nearly 2,000 feet, the diurnal shift is staggering: The temperature can plummet 50 degrees between the heat of the afternoon and the chilly nights, a condition that results in beautiful natural acidity. High, arid and steep, like the Priorat region of Spain, the vineyard consists of iron-rich red soils that are reminiscent of Oakville, and also contain quartz in delicate flecks and in chunks the size of car batteries.
The terrain allows Erickson and Favia to flex muscles that might go underutilized in Napa: Favia trains the Syrah vines in a modified “V” to increase sun exposure, and Erickson has elected to do some whole-cluster fermentation.
That kind of commitment and daring shows a team that, in spite of their accolades, is unafraid to throw off the yoke of expectations and try something new. The 2013 Quarzo is a gorgeous expression of Syrah from this special site. Muscular and dense yet beautifully delineated, it is rich in black cherry, black pepper, and vanillin. Don’t miss this chance at two legends’ truly ambitious project.
Keep on the lookout for our upcoming Favia releases. These are benchmark wines, and what we’re proudly declaring some of—if not the—most-special offerings to-date on Wine Access.
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