Three generations of Fadats have farmed the large, eighteen-hectare lieu-dit known as Aupilhac, in the village of Montpeyroux, across the river Hérault from Daumas Gassac and Grange des Pères. While the Fadats have farmed this land since the nineteenth century, and the vineyards date even farther back to the time of the Romans, it was not until 1989 that the current member of the Fadat family, Sylvain, finally registered the domaine as a vigneron indépendant. Aupilhac is a special parcel for many reasons. It sits at a high altitude, nestled below the ruins of the village’s château, at almost 1200 feet above sea level on terraced land with southwest sun exposure. The soils are rich in prehistoric oyster fossils, which lend an incredible length and minerality to the wines. Sylvain is not one to shy away from hard work. In a volcanic amphitheatre comprised of marine fossils and raw limestone, called Cocalières, he has done what few vignerons dare to do nowadays: he’s planted a vineyard on steep, extremely rocky terrain, and terraced the land himself. This is not only an enormous financial investment, but back-breaking work. This was the work done many centuries ago by the founders of France’s great terroirs such as Savennières and Cornas, planting the best and most promising parcels irrespective of time and money.
Sylvain has also elected to have his fruit certified as organic in Europe, a mandatory three-year conversion process. For him, this is a choice both of conscience and pragmatism. He works the soil vigorously by plowing regularly. This forces the roots to dig deeper and deeper in the soil in search of cooler, humid subsoil, which protects the vines from drought and sun. Ultimately, his rationale centers on helping achieve a natural balance. In his words, “We believe that work in the vineyards has far more influence on a wine’s quality than what we do in the cellar.” What happens in the cellars is equally compelling. Domaine d’Aupilhac’s wines find a terrific balance of ripe fruit and silky tannins, power and grace. When aged, these wines achieve a complexity rarely found in wines sold for many times the price, while their wildness and intensity makes them equally appealing young.