Fat Bastard Pinot Noir 2014
Good friends Tierry (renowned French winemaker) and Guy (British wine industry rebel) created FAT bastard almost by accident. It started out as an experiment Thierry had going in the back of his cellar, leaving a barrel “on the lees” (yeast cells). He didn’t know what to expect, but when he and Guy tried the wine, Thierry exclaimed, with a strong French accent, ”Now zat iz what you call eh Phet bast-ard!” This very British expression perfectly described the wine’s wonderful color and round, rich palate, so that’s what they named it. In 1991, Véronique Torcolacci obtained her degree in oenology from the University of Toulouse. She joined Gabriel Meffre as oenologist in charge of quality before becoming head winemaker. Produced in partnership with Gabriel Meffre and crafted from the low-yielding vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, the wine is remarkably full bodied with a vibrant, fruit-forward style. It is no wonder that Time magazine has referred to FAT bastard as, “Wine for the anti-snob.” When crafting FAT bastard, the objective of Véronique and her team remains the same: never make the slightest compromise on quality. With this in mind, she regularly visits the Languedoc vineyards, meeting with the winegrowers and seeking out wines that satisfy her rigorous demands.
As someone who feels strongly about protecting the environment, Véronique raises the issue of sustainable development with winegrowers and always strives to respect the land and the grape varieties as much as possible during the winemaking process. Commitment and passion are the driving forces that have enabled her to rise to this challenge for the past 20 years. Thanks to her unique knowledge, she has obtained more than 100 medals, several 4- and 5-star ratings, and special mentions for her wines in all the major wine competitions and top wine magazines. Her skills have also made her a name throughout the profession, particularly in the area of wine bottle capping and corking.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality and value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Rhône. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône Valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
Tasting Notes for Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a dry red wine, typically diominated by red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles showing black plum and more delicate styles of Pinot giving citrus qualities. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age Pinot Noir can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice and dried fruit.
Perfect Food Pairings for Pinot Noir
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of salmon or texture of tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Sommelier Secrets for Pinot Noir
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.