Le Pich Napa Valley
94 Points, Wine Advocate October 2018 “A deep ruby robe, with darker black fruit and mineral aromas on the nose. The palate brightens into a ripe strawberry, raspberry and boysenberry core, layered with notes of black licorice and nutmeg. Fluid and smooth, this wine blends rich fruit complexity, elegant freshness, and well-integrated tannins. This vintage is delightful at release, but also worthy of cellaring another 2-6 years.” – Lisa Perrotti-Brown
Purlieu – “the edge of the forest” or “an outlying area” – is a reference to our home base in the new Coombsville AVA, at the edge of the forest and the Napa Valley. Symbolically, Purlieu refers to our approach to winemaking, to exploring the outskirts and navigating the boundaries of what one may expect of a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. For us, the key to successfully walking that edge lies in maintaining balance: between innovation and tradition, confidence and restraint, depth and refreshment.
Julien Fayard was raised in the French Riviera. In the 1970s, his uncle purchased the small Château Sainte Marguerite in Provence and began making small amounts of wine. “My youth was spent in the vineyards,” he says. “My cousins and I played and biked in the vines, wearing scuba masks and using grapes for slingshots!” Having spent a few years working for his uncle’s estate, he traveled to Bordeaux where he worked for Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Smith Haut Lafitte. After meeting his wife Élan, who grew up in the Bay Area, the couple moved to Napa Valley in 2006, where Julien worked with Philippe Melka, helping build several now-famous brands.
These days, Julien is the winemaker for Purlieu and Le Pich and he consults for many other wineries including Taplin Cellars and Caspar Estate. In 2009 he started his own label, Azur Wines, which focuses on rosé. “Our goal is to become the reference point for rosé in America,” he says. “I’d rather try and fail than wish I had. I think we can make really good rosé here.” Julien is also a co-founder of Covert Estate, a new winery in the Coombsville AVA, tucked into a hillside overlooking the bowl-shaped appellation. We sat down to discuss his many projects, what he refers to as “the eternal onion”—a web of personal connections, philosophical layers and the everyday details of winemaking, as well as his goals as a winemaker. “I want to leave at least one understanding that no one has found, for the next generation to pick up,” he notes. “I want to put an extra brick in the wall.”