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Fairest Creature: The Napa icon spotlighting four star winemakers

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The darling of the 2024 Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction, Fairest Creature taps world-renowned winemakers to craft four distinctive wines in their own personal style from the same premium Napa Valley vineyards.

Not many ultra-premium brands make a giant splash in Napa Valley almost immediately upon release – but Fairest Creature has done just that. In fact, at the Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction in February 2024, a five-case lot became the top-selling lot, selling for $70,000. The project is the brainchild of Jayson Hu, a former Silicon Valley IC design engineer who fell in love with the wines of Napa Valley and the icons of Burgundy and the Rhône Valley.

Fairest Creatures winemakers meet with Jayson Hu

Jayson Hu zeroed in on three Napa-based winemakers to craft wines that would spotlight each winemaker’s individual style, rather than evoke a sense of place or terroir.

A unique winemaking philosophy

‘My aim with Fairest Creature is simple,’ says Hu, ‘I want to feature each winemaker’s vision of [Napa] Cabernet Sauvignon and highlight their unique, personal style’. No stranger to the opulent, powerful style of Napa Valley Cabernet, Hu began importing fine wine from California to China 15 years ago. Beginning in 2012, he zeroed in on three Napa-based winemakers after recognising the ‘consistency of their skill’ in crafting Cabernet Sauvignons that he judged faultless.

These three winemakers – Benoit Toquette, Thomas Rivers Brown and Philippe Melka – are among California’s most sought-after consultants. Hu’s vision was to hire each of them to craft a wine that would spotlight each winemaker’s individual style, rather than evoke a sense of place or terroir, and highlighting blending as the most important element of a great Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jayson Hu and Benoit Touquette walking in one of Fairest Creature Napa Valley vineyards.

Jayson Hu and Benoit Touquette walking in a Napa Valley vineyard.

Wines that mirror their makers’ personalities

Hu’s pitch to the winemakers was to allow them to focus on blending Cabernet from premium Napa vineyards. This plan resonated; winemakers in Napa are rarely presented with such an opportunity. It could be likened to buying grapes from La Tâche and blending them with grapes from La Romanée. As Melka puts it, ‘The direction has been: use your creativity at the highest level.’

‘We had a very inspiring first meeting,’ recalls Brown, ‘and one of the unique ideas he first presented was shying away from single-vineyard designates or appellation-focused bottlings, but instead trying to create an uber-cuvée from sites scattered throughout Napa Valley.’ For Fairest Creature’s flagship wine, Hu approached master blender Michel Rolland. ‘Michel was averse at first’, recalls Hu. However, the exceptional quality of the grape contracts, the exciting scope of the project, and the outstanding calibre of the winemakers involved captured Rolland’s attention.

Today, Fairest Creature sources its fruit from nine iconic, premium Napa Valley vineyards in Oakville, Pritchard Hill, Howell Mountain and St. Helena; the four renowned winemakers thus craft wines from the same vineyard sources, but through their individual winemaking choices produce blends with compellingly different personalities.

Michel Rolland working on blending Fairest Creature wines

With over 40 years of winemaking expertise, Michel Rolland takes on an exciting new journey: blending wines from renowned winemakers into one extraordinary masterpiece.

The art of the blend

Fairest Creature's Polyspline wine created by Napa Valley winemaker Philippe Melka

The elegant Polyspline, made by Philippe Melka, sees Cabernet Sauvignon balanced by barrel-fermented Petit Verdot. Its name evokes the purity, precision and elegance of Melka’s linear and focused style. On the label is a nine-tailed fox, an auspicious creature from Chinese folklore, a glimpse of which is rare and precious – just like this wine.

Fairest Creature's Perihelios wine created by Napa Valley winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown

Brown’s Cabernet Sauvignon is called Perihelios, in reference to the point in a planet’s orbit at which it is closest to the sun, reflecting Brown’s signature emphasis on sunshine and ripeness, which he channels to fashion a lusher, more powerful style of wine.

Fairest Creature's Sine Fine wine created by Napa Valley winemaker Benoit Toquette

Toquette makes the seductive, opulent Sine Fine, Latin for endless. Its label depicts two inseparable birds with one set of wings, an ancient Chinese symbol of love, perfectly encapsulating his passionate and heartfelt style of winemaking.

Fairest Creature's Triniceros wine created by Napa Valley winemaker Michel Rolland

Finally, Rolland selects the very finest lots of these three wines to create Triniceros, the flagship wine of Fairest Creature. Its name (‘three-horned’) refers to a mythical beast in Chinese culture, while also evoking the three masterpieces from which it is blended. This beguiling and supremely complex wine is truly exclusive and bottled only in magnums.

The 2022 vintage Fairest Creature auction lot, tasted as a barrel sample at Premiere Napa Valley, won rave reviews; according to Jonathan Cristaldi, it is ‘super rich and shows the vintage’s inky black and ripe fruit, offering plenty of body and mouthfeel with a remarkable layer of saline minerals. There isn’t one missing element here – from powerful, expressive, ripe and generous dark-toned fruits to super-fine tannins, well integrated through its fresh and mineral-laced finish.’

Boasting consistently high scores across its range of wines, ultra-premium Napa icon Fairest Creature is definitely one to watch.

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