On my first visit to Burgundy after becoming responsible for covering the region, in June 2004, I visited François Faiveley at Domaine and Joseph Faiveley. The domaine is a major vineyard owner, primarily in the Côte de Nuits, including several important grands crus. The négociant arm, Joseph Faiveley, also produces a lot of red and white Burgundy.
The following year saw a changing of the guard at chez Faiveley, with François’ son Erwan taking the helm of the company. In the space of five years, Erwan has made some important changes in viticulture, vinification and maturation of the wines, along with some significant acquisitions of vineyards.
I’m not going to go into all the details; you can read them in Peter Hellman’s article in our Oct. 31, 2009, issue. However, you can hear the changes Faiveley made to the vinification and élévage of the wines in his own words in the video below.
The result of these changes is that the Faiveley range in 2007 is one of the most exciting of the vintage for red Burgundy. The wines have the same purity of fruit and transparency that allows the different terroirs to be revealed, yet they are silkier in texture and more approachable at this stage early in their evolution.
One taste of the Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley (94, $181)—with its sleek, supple profile and red cherry, raspberry, floral and mineral flavors—displays this more approachable style, yet there’s plenty of grip on the finish. Both the black currant-, iron-, tobacco- and spice-infused Latricières-Chambertin (94, $206) and the smoky Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers (93, $103) also prove that the wines have complexity and depth without sacrificing terroir.
Faiveley has substantial holdings in the Côte Chalonnaise too. Look for its Mercurey Clos des Myglands (90, $46), which also boasts freshness, elegance and purity backed by a solid structure. One of its more affordable wines is the Mercurey (89, $27), full of cherry, raspberry and spice notes.
Faiveley is still working to improve the wines, with changes in the vineyards that will manifest themselves with the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages. In part of its Clos de Vougeot, the training of the vines was converted from a single Guyot trellis to Cordon. This helps to reduce vigor and allow for better air flow, particularly in humid parcels with deeper soils.
The harvesting strategy was also reorganized to pick at the desired ripeness, beginning with the 2007 vintage " … to be much more precise,” said Faiveley.
As good as the Faiveley wines were, they are even better now. The wines made under François' direction had a reputation for aging. How will the new style develop over time? I think they will age beautifully, but only time will tell.