If anyone orders Merlot I am leaving. I am not drinking fucking Merlot! — the notorious line from the ragged, lonesome character Miles in Alexander Payne’s movie Sideways that came out the following harvest season after the harvest of this 2003 CHATEAU PÉBY FAUGÈRES Saint-Emilion, which is made of 100% Merlot. Well, it’s clear 14 years later since the bottling of this splendid and wondrous Bordeaux wine that Miles was only having a moment of irrationality while in the grip of emotional crisis. He clearly did not mean to destroy the market for Merlot for the next 10 years. He obviously wasn’t referring to the great and revered Merlots made from the Right Bank of Bordeaux. And when it comes to revered French Merlots, the name Péby Faugères doesn’t typically roll off the tongue with the frequency of, say, the Chateaux Petrus, Le Pin, Angelus, Clinet or Troplong Mondot. Let’s chalk it up to the fact that not much of this wine is made, comparatively speaking—just around 1,000 cases. So, let’s call it a cult Merlot.
At 14 years of age, this wine shows no sign of aging in the slightest. It is still so wondrously sprightly and energized and alive. Dark toned, earthy, rich, concentrated, weighty and masculine—copious notes of old cedar, tobacco leaf, cassis, black cherry and blueberry—this is a powerful and robust Merlot. It’s old-school macho and hunky—movie star hunky, like Gary Cooper or Harrison Ford or, to be more country specific, Yves Montand. Not just a good looking fella but with substantial depth beneath the ruggedly handsome surface. A true classic of Bordeaux, Péby Faugères is most definitely a name that belongs atop the brightly lit marquee of star Merlots. Even Miles would have to agree, after all this time. –J.M.
Great Wine: Spreitzer Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Kabinett