At TWH, we’ve been referring to Sébastien Vincenti as the “young winemaker” from Domaine de Fondrèche for quite a while. Here’s the funny thing, Sébastien has been making wine at the domaine for twenty years! His youthful looks aside, Sébastien is one of those ambitious and passionate winemakers who early in his career attached himself to important wine mentors and then took on the challenge of producing exceptional wine in a region that was overlooked and overshadowed by its more famous neighbors. A quick whiff of the 2012 Fayard will instantly orient you to the Rhône with its aromas of ripe berries, dusty herbs, and violets. Well it should, as it is from the Rhône, only not from Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas, but from Ventoux.
Sébastien’s mother, Nanou Barthelémy purchased Domaine de Fondrèche in 1993. The vineyard is 28 hectares and provides the grapes for their red wine production. The vines are grown on rocky soil over gravel and limestone on a plateau that flanks Mount Ventoux. It really is a prime location for the growing of grapes, especially Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, where the Mistral wind keeps the grapes pristine and cools down temperatures for an optimal, long growing-season.
The 2012 Fayard is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and the rest Mourvèdre. The gorgeous red fruit is fresh and vibrant. It is open-knit and drinking superbly at this moment. Unmistakably Rhône-ish, the 2012 Fayard has the soft-edged, succulent Fondrèche palate-feel without any of the funkiness it can often have upon release. The 2012 Fayard is raring to go, to delight and share a bit of that Provençal sunshine with each glassful during these wintery dark nights.
It seems a lifetime ago now, but during a trip to France, visiting many of our producers with a large group of wine trade folk, I had a memorable lunch at an auberge where the wines of Domaine de Fondrèche were served. To get to the auberge, you had to drive along a dirt driveway where the animals, that might at some future date be your entrée, were stabled alongside the restaurant. The food was rustic, homey, and for this girl, just the kind of food I like best to eat. The servers also looked like they enjoyed the food they prepared and proudly presented each course family-style. A leg of lamb spit-roasted in the main room’s open fireplace was a favorite dish, but it was the barley salad with sautéed crispy bits of duck gizzards that to this day have me salivating. I can’t remember the exact vintage, but the Fayard poured was perfectly matched to the nuttiness of the grain and the earthiness of the gizzards. I must one day try to re-create this pairing.
This weekend should also be memorable in The Bay Area. Yep, my daughter will be hosting her first ever sleepover birthday party! And, there is the historic Golden Gate Bridge closure. I am well prepared for both events! Or am I? I am beginning to think that before I depart work today and drive northbound over the Golden Gate one last time before a movable medium will be installed on the bridge, maybe, just maybe, I should tote along a bottle of the 2012 Fayard. Fayard and gizzards, that I know match up, but what about Fayard and a gaggle of chatty eleven-year old girls? Probably should take a bottle…wish me luck!
From The Wine Advocate’s issue #210 “A blend of 50% tank-aged Grenache and 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre aged in barrel, the 2012 Cotes du Ventoux Fayard (which was the only 2012 I tasted out of bottle) is a gorgeous effort that gives up impressive notes of black raspberry, flowers, violets and pepper. Perfumed, complex and with the hallmark purity of the fruit that all of this estate’s wines show, this medium-bodied, elegant and lively effort has good acidity and a clean finish. Enjoy it over the coming 4-5 years. “ 90 points.