Passing Through Purlieu
EVERY two weeks the Carpe Diem front house staff congregates for wine education meetings to taste and learn about new items on our wine list. Every so often we are privileged to tour and taste at the actual wineries, and recently, we had the opportunity to visit Purlieu Wines. We have sold their cabernet sauvignon blend, Le Pich, since summertime.
The tour was organized and guided by our friends, Aaron Debeers and Dustin Ramey. Winemaker Julien Fayard also joined us for this adventure. We hiked through their seventeen acre vineyards to the top of the hill to observe an unbeatable view of the Napa countryside. Aaron informed us that the land was originally occupied by the Wapo Indians, which influenced their design for “Le Pich,” a Wapo term for the golden eagles that inhabited the property.
From the vineyards we continued on to a large hay shed where the grapes are sorted and barreled. We were introduced to a humungous optical sorter, called Protec, which electronically sorts the grapes before being transferred into the press. Julien switched on the machine to demonstrate. We all jumped out of our skins as three pieces of wine barrel metal rings shot off the conveyer belt and clanged into the bin. Julien quickly shut it off, “That wasn’t supposed to happen… but that is sort of how it works.” We all laughed, and were thankful all our limbs were still intact.
To see the wine drip from the press made us drool, so we headed off to the tasting room. First on the menu was a very crisp and refreshing Le Pich 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that will soon be on our wine list. Next, we revisited the Le Pich Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux blend, which is undeniably delectable. Julien explained that the point of this particular blend is to not have a dominant, single varietal expression. It has an “Italian softness” that balances the varietals, making it easy to drink. “It’s not about taking three hours talking and drinking, it’s about finishing the bottle,” Julien said with a smile. He wasn’t kidding around, because we polished off four bottles by the end of the tasting.
We also tasted the very sophisticated Purlieu, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, whose grapes come from Rutherford, St. Helena and Coombsville. The name “Purlieu” translates to “pure location,” and also “the edge of the forest.” Since wine is a direct expression of its land, Julien stressed the importance of finding the “purest” and best regions in Napa to plant the vines. This cabernet is very “French” with a dark fruit, chocolate character and “blossoming finish.” It is elegant and bold, making it a perfect addition to our reserve list at Carpe Diem.
The afternoon at Purlieu Vineyards ultimately embodied the Napa Valley experience with good company, outstanding wine, and breathtaking scenery. We found ourselves drawn in to their story, and felt the staff’s enthusiasm for the growth of their winery. As Julien said, “People remember stories, because you can touch a story.” Come to Carpe Diem and immerse yourself in the flavors of Purlieu, wines only from the purest locations.
Thank you Aaron Debeers, Dustin Ramey and Julien Fayard for accommodating the Carpe Diem Crew.
At Your Service,