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With the same Lafite-honed winemaking brilliance that made N-J Cabernets instant sell-outs, Julien Fayard sets his sights on fruit grown by the Kings of Carneros – Truchard Vineyards. “Dolly” comes from a hillside plot that grows Chardonnay that tastes like a million bucks. And this amazingly situated site probably costs a cool mil, too. One taste explains all - this is Chardonnay at its absolute purest and most incandescent– with the untampered intensity of excellent Chablis, it shivers with more energy than a downed power line and smothers the palate with a torrential flood of exotic orchard fruits. A case won’t be enough.
About the wine
He’s made his name in Napa, but you can’t miss the fact that winemaker Julien Fayard is French to the bone. That’s what is drawing an ever-growing legion of collectors to Fayard’s coat-tails. Like Aaron Pott, Thomas Rivers Brown and Celia Welch, he’s poised to ascend to the levels currently occupied by Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle. He’s got something special – a potential first identified by Chateau Lafite-Rothschild but since noted by Quintessa, Philippe Melka, and soon to be, the world! Big expectations rest heavy on his shoulders but he’s done nothing to cool the over-heated praise of his wines – just take a taste of his work at Nicholson-Jones. He’s regarded as one of the great ascendant talents in the world of Napa Cabernet but his talent yearns to explore the entirety of American wine. He’s linked up with the Truchards on this luscious, mineral-loaded Chardonnay that summons memories of the greatest Chardonnays in California history. Think Rombauer, Patz & Hall – ripe, fruit-forward and charged wines full of personality! Tasters can look forward to the best of Chardonnay’s more transparently delicious profile – white peach, pineapple and lemon curd, all electrified with a mouthwatering shot of juicy acidity, complemented by a fine dusting of chalky minerality. If we were in Burgundy, this site would be protected by ancient stone walls and jealously guarded by monks! Another impressive achievement from Julie Fayard. In a half-decade, Fayard’s wines will be mailing-list only collectibles. The smart money jumps in right now!
Winemaker: Julien Fayard
Appellation: Carneros, Napa Valley
- 94 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- 96 pts: Vintage Rating (Wine Spectator)
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay
Vineyard: Dolly Vineyard (Truchard)
Cooperage: Stainless Steel and 7 months lees aging
About the winery
Nicholson Jones is a tight partnership between the Nicholson-Jones family and winemaker Julien Fayard. The key to the winery’s operation is the family’s unwavering trust in Fayard, who was first brought on to save a funky barrel of wine – and did so in incredible fashion. Fully convinced they’d found a brilliant talent, the Nicholson-Jones folks hired Fayard full-time and began to scour Napa for a vineyard site that could provide him the kind of high-quality Cabernet that could let his talent blossom. That search culminated in the purchase of a Coombsville site that now forms the base of a wine that could be right at home in France’s Paulliac region. Tasters repeatedly confirm what Fayard and company believe is a unique terroir – rich, dark fruit, embroidered with smoky, stony accents not found anywhere else in Napa.
About the vineyard
The Dolly Vineyard is located on a southwest facing hillside behind the Joann and Tony Truchard Family home in Carneros. This vineyard is several miles in from San Pablo Bay along very hilly terrain. It is a bit warmer here; a relative term considering Carneros is the coolest climate to grow fruit in Napa. These twenty plus year old vines are farmed by Tony Truchard and produce wonderfully full yet clean chardonnay favors. It is a pleasure to see this vineyard; it is very old school and reminds visitors of what Napa was like many years ago. Truchard farming, the Carneros climate and the rocky hillside soils gives this vineyard true Terroir.
About the winemaker, Julien Fayard
Fayard’s a name that carries a lot of weight in Napa as he is the protégé of superstar Philippe Melka and has stints at none other than Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Lafite Rothschild under his belt. No big deal, just one of the greatest wineries in the world. Fayard’s French-influenced winemaking plays exceptionally well in Coombsville as the area’s natural terroir is easy to express with certain Bordeaux-inspired techniques.
He was born in Saint Etienne, France and grew up in the French Riviera. He has a masters in Agribusiness and Winemaking. Along with his stints at Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Laffite before, Fayard also gained experience at Quintessa before heading to Southern France for 3-years at Chateau Sainte Marguerite, a Cru Classé winery located in the Cote d'Azur. Julien returned to Napa Valley in 2006 where he lives with his wife Élan. Julien remains committed to creating exceptional wines using the finest California grapes, blending the legacy of French tradition with a touch of California style. He makes wine for a dozen small-batch wineries in Napa, including Purlieu (94-96pts RP), Le Pich, Cultivar, Taplin and Covert.
94 points - Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Luscious, buttery notes of baked golden apple, caramel corn, grilled yellow peach, ripe pineapple, and vanilla bean combine harmoniously in this rich Napa Chardonnay. Combining both tropical and toasty notes on the palate and a bit of lift to help this rich wine pair with meals, this Chardonnay is well-suited to meals like grilled salmon, roasted chicken with buttery mashed potatoes, or butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and crushed hazelnuts. Those that love the ripe notes that only California Chardonnay can offer, will adore this bottling from Nicholson Jones."