Hello friends. We have a gorgeous set of Northern Rhone wines today from what may be an unfamiliar winery to our list members, but is very much a familiar owner/winemaker: Michel Chapoutier.
We’ve extolled the virtues of Chapoutier’s Roussillon project – Bila-Haut – time and time again. Today we touch on another realm in this brilliant winemaker’s empire: Ferraton Père et Fils. Chapoutier began partnering with the Ferraton winery two decades ago, and then purchased the winery outright in 2004. Since then, quality has been on a slow-and-steady uptick, culminating in a fast-and-sudden additional uptick since the building of a new winery facility in 2013. It’s to the point where these wines now represent that rare bird: quality in the Northern Rhone at accessible pricing.
The press has begun to notice, summed up nicely by James Molesworth’s article last year for Wine Spectator, and that has made these wines marginally more difficult to source. The main feature of today’s offer – a dynamite Crozes-Hermitage – wasn’t even being imported into Seattle. We had to ask for a special-order, and it arrived this week, just in time to offer up for the holidays. In addition we’ll offer two entry level Cotes du Rhones (one white, one red), and a special treat: an Hermitage six-plus years past vintage.
2015 Ferraton Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Les Calendes
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92-94pts.”
In my opinion, Crozes-Hermitage is the most uneven appellation in the Northern Rhone. I’m sure one of you who recently paid $35 for crap Saint-Joseph is shaking your head in disagreement right now, but I’d still argue that Crozes takes the cake for hit-or-miss bottles. It’s one of those appellations where there is simply no substitute for tasting to separate the wheat from the chaff. As you can see on the map, Crozes is an area in the crook of the neck made by the confluence of the Rhone and Isere rivers. While up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne are allowed in red Crozes, this is 100% Syrah, entirely destemmed and aged in concrete. It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers a lovely nose of plum sauce, black olive, and stony minerality; just the kind of savory/fruity mashup the northern Rhone does best. The outstanding 2015 vintage shines on the palate, offering its signature palate-staining goodness, its rich fruit paired to naughty brackish notes. Texturally, this fans out and saturates every square inch of the palate. It’s terrific Syrah for the tag, and a lovely pairing for many a winter braise or roast.
2016 Ferraton Cotes du Rhone Blanc Samorens
Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90pts.”
A lovely mid-weight winter white (13.5% listed alc), this possesses a savory element – straw and sweet pea – almost reminiscent of a nice Gruner, paired to lovely melon and white peach fruit. It’s balanced, bright, and delicious, with a robust citrus-mineral spine to counter a core of creamy fruit.
2015 Ferraton Cotes du Rhone Rouge Samorens
This is predominantly Grenache (80%), rounded out with Syrah and Cinsault, and it’s another delightful 2015 value, pairing plush raspberry and black cherry fruit to flower-inflected garrigue and mineral tones. There’s a smoked-meat subtlety here, a bacon fat note presumably from the small amount of Syrah, that really gets the blood pumping. And as usual with the better ‘15s, this offers almost new world–style density and concentration of fruit. It’s a delicious sub-$15 value.
2011 Ferraton Hermitage Rouge Les Miaux
Very little of this available, so I won’t say much, but Ferraton’s base is very much Hermitage, and their Hermitage bottlings are their flagship wines. This clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers a complex, maturing nose: huckleberry fruit paired to notes savory (mushroom stock, roasting meat) and green (rosemary, green olive) and floral. It’s still surprisingly intense and primary on the palate, and there’s a succulence and exoticism to the fruit that is just wonderful. A rare chance to access maturing wine from one of the world’s beating hearts of Syrah production.