Fait Main means “handmade’ in French. And that is appropriate since Fait Main wines are made by Benoit Touquette, a French winemaker who has made his mark in Napa Valley as winemaker for Hartwell Estate Vineyards, Realm and Jack Quinn, among others. Touquette earned advanced degrees in enology and chemistry at the University of Bordeaux before working at estates in Bordeaux and South Africa. Early in his career he made wine for legendary French wine consultant Michel Rolland. He is one of Napa’s rising young stars. His Fait Main Cabernet Sauvignons are usually available only through a mailing list.
Saint-Émilion is on the east side of the Dordogne River. At 13,400 acres it is one of Bordeaux’s largest appellations, and perhaps its most picturesque. It is also home to what has been called “the garagiste” movement of upstart, tradition-defying winemakers who produce artisanal wines in styles that are unconventional for the appellation. The village of Saint-Émilion dates from the middle ages and it sits on low hills, surrounded by ancient walls. Like its neighbor Pomerol, Saint-Émilion was not included in the famous Bordeaux classification system of 1855. But a century later a ranking system was put in place, and unlike the classification system for the Medoc, the Saint-Émilion system is reviewed every ten years, meaning that estates can be upgraded or downgraded. There are three rankings: Grand Cru Classé, Premier Grand Cru Classé B and Premier Grand Cru Classé A, with the final ranking being the best. Such legendary Saint-Émilion estates as Châteaux Ausone and Cheval-Blanc are Premier Grand Cru Classé A, along with Châteaux Pavie and Angélus, both added to the classification in 2012. Wines in this appellation are primarily Merlot, mixed with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.