Sometimes we are lucky to have the opportunity to follow an estate from the beginning, and I can proudly say I’ve got that luck with Nicolas Faure, owner of the small eponym winery located in Meuilley, small village in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits.
I met Nicolas, then neo-winemaker, by chance : I was sitting on the bar at the famous Caveau de Puligny and Nicolas was also there. After having tasted some burgundian wines, we have opened together a bottle from his first vintage, a Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Herbues” 2011. I still remember well this wine : light for a young Nuits (which are often mettlesome), but with a precise an exhuberant fruit and a great drinkability : I was conquered
From then, I’ve followed the domain, going sometimes to the Nicolas facilities, who after first picking in hellish conditions (in a barn) and limited equipment begins today to have installations worthy of the meticulous work he wants to provide for its wines.
Nicolas Faure : The Terroir and the land
When you speak with Nicolas, it is not possible to not notice his true love for the vine’s work. When today some renown winemakers delegate this task to journeymen, while they stay in their cellar’s work, Nicolas likes to work the land, he likes to understand how each of its terroirs works and reacts with the nature : he knows how to work them to have the best grapes from there.
Ofcourse, loving his land doesn’t make this winemaker crazy, and he knows the quality’s limits of its parcels : he doesn’t try to produce wine not allowed by the ground and by the plants. But the work done pays off : after only 4years, a diversified flora has developped on his Nuits parcel, obvious sign the ground is better now, resulting to a better ground’s breathe and more interaction between vine and terroir… and then wines with a deeper taste.
Grand Cru’s vines
Good wine is the expression of Terroir as everyone knows. But the terroir is transmitted via a specific element : the vine. For Nicolas, this point is really crucial. We could believe a Chardonnay vine equals another one, but it’s not the case : a lot of varieties exist of each grape type, with also different rootstocks. For example, Nicolas just acquired 6 ouvrées in Hautes Côtes, just near Pernand-Vergelesses vines, and if he has kept 3 centenary golden Aligotés ouvrées, he has plucked the 3 other ones and has replanted Chardonnay, choosing the finest vines, as these we find in Grrands Crus (but also with Grand Cru yield…). The plants choice is made with a hybrid method I call “clonomassale” : it consists in chosing enough different clones in a parcel and to multiply them, which allows a good variety in the parcels.
The vine’s love, it’s also to not stop to the grape variety’s fame. The Gamay, which is now decried in Burgundy is seen by Nicolas as a beautiful grape. One of the lasts parcels he has acquired is planted with Gamay, and I’m confident he will make more and more precise and deep wines with that. We must say, if the parcel is down hillside, she is also quite stony and well drained, which are good ingredients to produce good wines.
Last example, and wink to a place he especialy likes, the winemaker is currently deforesting a parcel unused for 150yeard, with vertiginous slopes (up to 40%), and he wants to conduct the vine as it is done in Côte-Rotie, which will allow to work easier without any mechanization. I’m already impatient to taste the result of that work.
The Wines, the Vintages
All Nicolas wines are produced with low yields and are vinified in whole bunches (vendange entière in french), which give wines the producer especially likes. I have to confess I also have a special attention to wines vinified in whole bunches, as for example Confuron-Cotetidot’s wines.
The Nicolas Faure’s first vintage dates of 2011, but he likes to say the first real and full vintage is 2014, when his talent had the first time the possibility to fully express. Indeed in 2011 he has acquired the vines in April and have to do the vinification in a barn, in 2012 the vinification is made outside his place and has not the key when he wants, in 2013 he has just built the winery and has no adequate material to control the temperature. In 2014 he has, for the first time, the possibility, to take the time to work properly, to concentrate to his winemaker’s job.
In April I’ve picked up my Nuits-Saint-Georges 2013, tasted in stride, and mostly the 2014, tasted on barrels :
- Gamay 2014 : greedy wine, with a nice fruit, mature but still with acidity. It is already nice to drink in March 2015. The wine has been produced as Nicolas wanted to du : without new barrel, searching fruit and drinkability.
- Bourgogne 2014 : 2 barrels tasted, which had 2 different profiles quite opposite profiles : in the oldest barrel the wine had a structure precise but with a bit acute tannins. The aromas are typically pinot, with fresh cherries. On the youngest barrel, the tannin is polished by the wood but the wine seems to be “easy” and not so precise. It will be interesting to taste the blending..
- Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Herbues” 2014 : I, without a doubt, feel the step between 2013 and 2014 in this wine. It still has the juicy touch but we feel the wine has a background more developped. Even if the wine is still not ready, the structure in mouth gives the impression to be more “bodied”. An impressive tasting.
- Aligoté 2014 :Great wine under construction ! Once again, the wine was still in barrel but what a great impression ! full in mouth, well balanced, long and aromatic. I quickly thought to an Aligoté from Buisson-Charles estate, vintage 2005 I tasted a few years ago, my best memory for an Aligoté. No doubt about the necessity to keep an eye on that wine.
- Nuits-Saint-Georges “les Herbues” 2013 : Fresh, fruity, lightly peppered and nice sensation in mouth, the wine is not at all heavy bodied but we have pleasure to drink it!
In conclusion I would like to focus on the professionnalism of Nicolas, day after day, or rather after-day by after day at his estate, showing that being a professionnal is more a question of attitude and not a salary at the end of the month (even if it helps…). His wines still have the freshness of youth, the beauty of the discovery and, if the wines still have for sure some flaws, if some improvements still have to occur, the quality and the personality of these wines is so obvious we only have to wish Nicolas a long long and beautiful career!
ps. Thanks Paul Wassermann for the pictures!.