Lionel Faury Saint Joseph 2017



You all know by now that we here at Waterford love the wines of the American importer Kermit Lynch. And beyond that, we also love the wines of the northern Rhone – their pronounced aromatic complexity, their drive and energy on the palate, the youthful exuberance AND ability to age for years in cellar. I read this statement recently about the northern Rhone: “More Wine Than This for the Money? It Can’t Be Done.” And I believe it wholeheartedly, especially with Lionel Faury’s Saint-Joseph.

We actually started with this wine in the 2005 vintage. Time flies, but there’s an occasional bottle of ’05 that floats into Brady on occasion to reveal that it’s still alive and kicking. Way back then, Lionel Faury was a somewhat scared, quiet boy following in his father’s footsteps. I haven’t tasted with him for many years, but with this 2017 vintage Lionel, to my palate, has proven himself every bit the master of Saint-Joseph that his father was, if not even greater. I’ll turn the background over to Kermit Lynch:

“Along the steep, narrow valley that traces the northern Rhône, the appellations of Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Saint-Joseph take their place among the great wines of France, and Domaine Faury is one of the region’s most artisanal producers. When Philippe Faury took over the domaine in 1979, the family was selling wine, peaches and cherries, and the bulk of their clientele was local. Over the years, Philippe expanded their holdings to over eleven hectares, and expanded sales to an international client base.  In addition, he has shared his savoir faire with his son, Lionel.  Since 2006, Lionel has taken over the reins at Domaine Faury, though father and son still work side by side.

“The steep slopes of the northern Rhône present a challenging terrain where farming is only feasible through terracing. On these terraced slopes, the Faurys’ vines take full advantage of the southern and southeastern sun exposure, benefitting from optimum ripening.  A combination of the predominately granitic soil, partial de-stemming (in about 70% of the grapes), soft crushing of the grapes with a pneumatic press, and temperature controlled fermentation offer a liveliness and freshness that one does not often find in wines from the northern Rhône.

“There’s a real attention to detail here, and nothing is done in haste.  Every method used encourages the grape towards greatness with the ultimate respect for its fragility.  Pigeage, the punching of the cap, is not carried out with tools, but gently by foot – not just poetic but also pragmatic.  Unlike many other vignerons in the region, the Faurys have a strong aversion to new oak. Though the reds definitely see time in barrels, there is a rotation between new and old alike, along with a variety of sizes, ranging from the smaller barriques to the larger 600-liter demi-muids.  Unfined and only lightly filtered before bottling, these wines are loaded with classic flavors and show a remarkable rustic elegance.”

The bottle I had of this 2017 vintage blew me away. On day one it was tight but showing promise, on days two and three it was an explosion of bacon, meats, game, savory, black currant and truffles. The palate had greatly delineated tension and freshness. In short, a real beauty. You can certainly drink it now, but I’d say let it be for a year or two, and then drink happily ever after for the next 20. This is seriously delicious stuff.

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