It's well established that Pierre Gaillard makes some of the world's greatest wines in the Northern Rhone, so when I found out he was making a Faugeres from the Languedoc Roussillon I knew I wanted it in my glass.
And, of course, the first sip told me that Pierre Gaillard has packed all the expertise that he applies to his expensive and exclusive Cote Rotie and St Joseph wines into his stunning Faugeres. It is saturated with color and an amazing richness of red and black fruit flavors.
But, the good news is, this wine is from the Languedoc Roussillon and those prices have not nearly caught up with Cote Rotie and St Joseph even though the wine is way better than its peers and a lot of wines asking twice the price.
If you don't know the wines of Pierre Gaillard, you should.
The Faugeres wine region lies between the Cevennes mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea, near the villages of Beziers and Pezanas. There is a special connection between Pierre Gaillard and Faugeres. Faugeres is one big mountain of schist rock and Pierre Gaillard loves schist. He makes his famous Cote Rotie in the northern Rhone from schist-based soils. It's a rocky, brittle soil he knows well.
The lovely thing about schist is it forces the vines to plunge their roots deep into the soil to search for moisture since schist drains well. These roots become very hardy and able to withstand those gale-force winds and long periods of drought which can challenge the Languedoc Roussillon growing season.
Of course this adds complexity and minerality - the elusive mark of great wines
But, the schist is good for something else as well - it retains the heat of the sun like flagstones on a hot day so the grapes can keep ripening far into the night. This creates a glass of wine that is concentrated, perfectly ripe and fully expressive.
Gaillard's Faugeres is made from 50% Syrah (the grape of the legendary Hermitage and Cote Rotie made in the Northern Rhone Valley), 40% Grenache (the grape of the great Chateauneuf du Papes made in the Southern Rhone Valley), and 10% Mourvedre (the little darling that makes our Cotes du Rhone so darn delicious).
Pierre takes great care with his Faugeres. He vinifies parcel by parcel and grape type by grape type which allows him to meticulously allocate only the best parcels and the ripest grapes to the final wine. And, on top of all this, the juice is aged in oak for 16 months. He never filters.
Well, all I can say is, I've been nosing around for a Faugeres for a long time and when I tasted this one, I called off the search. This wine is great stuff. Cynthia Hurley French Wines