Behind the label: Domaine Ferraton

Behind the label: Domaine Ferraton

Domaine Ferraton is a little different from many French vineyards. It has the typical tradition that means high quality wine is produced using methods passed down over the years. But Ferraton has some characteristics that make it stand out.

Had it followed the normal process of passing ownership from father to son, the latest generation of the Ferraton family would now be at the helm. However, Samuel, grandson of the founder, suffered a life-changing motorcycle accident and is now confined to a wheelchair. That tragic event resulted in Ferraton calling on the expertise of the redoubtable Chapoutier brothers, who were friends of Samuel’s father Michel, and were already offering help on introducing biodynamic methods. The focus remains on the artisan style of winemaking, but the Chapoutier influence has changed the process a little.

Ferraton was set up in 1946 by Jean-Orens Ferraton and now has vineyards in Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. Expansion started after Michel became involved and added other vineyards.

The move to organic and biodynamic farming began in 1998 when Michel Chapoutier (pictured) became involved. He was happy to share his knowledge of making wine without the use of any additives, pesticides or chemicals. The Ferraton focus switched firmly to making wines of good quality using new and ambitious methods.

The wines we see now from Ferraton focus on respecting the environment in which they are created. Biodynamic methods allow the vines to find balance without pesticides or chemical fertilisation. This is reflected in their quality.

We like many of the wines in the Ferraton range, and we’re particularly keen on the Côtes du Rhône Samorens Rouge 2019. This is a medium to full-bodied red with an overriding flavour of fresh cherry that is balanced by flowery and peppery notes. The wine benefits from tannins that are not overpowering, and this gives it a fresh finish.

Further up the price range, we’re also fans of Saint-Joseph La Source Blanc 2018, which is a white made only from the Marsanne grape. It’s made by fermenting a small amount in oak barrels, with the rest in stainless steel vats, then combining the before bottling. This is a fresh wine with citrus and nectarine flavours before ending a taste of honey.

And if you’re looking for a special occasion bottle, let us introduce you to Hermitage Les Miaux 2015, which is made exclusively from Syrah grapes. It has an intense cherry-coloured appearance and blackcurrant flavours. It is medium bodied, with supple, plush tannins and a peppery, spicy finish.

If that’s pushing the budget, then Crozes-Hermitage La Matinière 2019 is also well made using only Syrah. This is a silky smooth wine that balances sweet tannins with fresh acidity and is an excellent accompaniment to any meat dishes.

As with so many French producers, success at Domaine Ferraton is built on heritage and family values. That is enhanced by the Chapoutier influence. It’s a strong and highly successful combination that continues to produce great wine. Santé !