- Rating: 95 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $0
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: false
One of the first things you learn about marketing is placement of product. If customers can see it, that’s a big part of the battle. Unlike Jaboulet and Chapoutier, which both have ideal placements for their storefronts (next to the main square and train station, respectively), Ferraton is a short walk to a beautiful spot on the river. But because it isn’t along the path of most foot traffic, it gets significantly less visitors than the other two. And it’s a real shame - Ferraton’s store feels like the ideal balance between chic and classic, their wines are some of the better values in town, and you’ll likely get a much more personal experience because of the reduced foot traffic. You are making a mistake if you do not visit Ferraton during your stay in Hermitage.
I was lucky enough to have heard of Ferraton before my trip, so it was always on my itinerary. Although I wanted to arrive right around their opening, I ended up taking my time walking along the riverfront, enjoying the gorgeous view of Hermitage along the way. I passed several people that were headed to the Chocolate factory further up along the river, but they did not intend to stop Ferraton later to enjoy their chocolate with wine. Their loss I guess… When I finally arrived at Ferraton, they were still closed. I had to call the number on their website to get ahold of someone. Apparently, they were all in the office above the wine shop. They don’t get many walk-in visitors like me. I hope that changes for them soon, but until then, make sure you call ahead before dropping in. Because if you do, you may get to enjoy the entire shop by yourself, like I did below.
As an organic (and biodynamic) winery, Ferraton uses CO2 to protect their wines, instead of SO2. So for those that may be a bit sensitive to carbonation, you might feel a light fizz in the wine, but it shouldn’t be too noticeable. Regarding the varietal selection, most of their white wines are Marsanne, though their Reverdy is a good example of their blending proficiency. Their red wines are all 100% Syrah. The reds are typically aged 10-12 months in 10% new oak barrels, meaning the oak flavors provide some complexity in the wines, but these Syrahs are varietally driven on the palate.
The wine ambassador for the day was younger than me but extremely sharp. We had a delightful conversation through the tasting and it was clear that he went above and beyond to show me the majority of their portfolio. I only wish I had more room in my luggage to purchase more of their wines - like many other shops, their shipping prices were fairly costly, leaving the customer to pack wines in their luggage or search for their US Distributor. The tasting was free, but I felt obligated to tip the gentleman because of the experience I had. One would easily pay $30+ for a similar experience back home.
When you visit, do not necessarily expect a tasting of every wine listed below. But I would highly recommend that you note what wines you are interested in tasting. The Reverdy was my favorite, though the last three Syrahs also piqued my curiosity as I could see myself enjoying those bottles in the near future. Though again, the quality of the 15€ wines far surpasses what you would find in the US at the same price point. Hopefully, the notes below will help guide your choices on what to taste!
- 2017 La Matiniere (14€)
- 100% Marsanne from Croze-Hermitage. The wine is still young and has a year or two to reach its drinking window. The nose is very pronounced, thanks to the CO2 effervesence in the wine. Primary notes of white peach, honey, and white flowers. The palate offers high acid and flavors that are as intense as the nose. A bit fleshy on the palate and the flavors aren’t quite integrated, but again it is very young. Serve this a little cold and it should be really good on a hot day and definitely more interesting than your usual white.
- 2016 Le Mialan (14.50€)
- 100% Marsanne from the granite soils of Saint-Peran, which is across the river and 20km south of Hermitage. This wine has a deeper, riper nose than the Matiniere with the peach being the dominant aroma. The palate has medium(+) acid, medium(-) body, with white spice and minerality coming to the fore to pair with the peach. You can drink this during the fall time to best enjoy and it should stand up to pairing with food. Smooth and integrated - many people are going to like this wine.
- 2016 La Source (17€)
- 100% Marsanne from Saint-Joseph. Similar nose to the Mialan with the ripe white peach, but this also has a bit of candied character at the end of the nose. High acid with good structure and mouthfeel. The flavors are well integrated, though contrast the nose with its more ripe green and yellow fruit flavors. The finish is surprisingly long - it was still going after 15 seconds. There is also some minerality, but it doesn’t show as much as the Le Mialan. Strong enough to stand on its own, but I could definitely see this pairing well with food because of the acid.
- 2016 Les Mandouls (33€)
- 100% Viognier from Condrieu. Ferraton produces this wine from purchased grapes that are grown by a biodynamic grower. Varietal notes of white flowers and exotic fruits on the nose at a medium(+) intensity. High acid, medium body with medium intensity flavors of minerals, peach, and a hint of white spice on the finish. It finishes light and fresh - one could easily have multiple glasses, unlike some other Condrieus. I think the restrained intensity was due to the temperature the wine was served at, so I’d be happy to retaste this wine at a warmer temperature someday.
- 2014 Le Reverdy (68€)
- This 50/50 blend of Marsanne and Rousanne is the tete de cuvee of their white wine portfolio. This Ermitage, made using the best grapes from their plot, can easily age 10-15 years. The nose has a fair amount of butter, nut, and popcorn aromas as it was aged 10-12 months in 30% new oak. There is a depth on the nose that is so enticing… The palate has really nice structure thanks to the acidity and weight, though aging will help with the integration. And the complex, pronounced flavors on the palate are just as sublime - I can’t tell what was more dominant: the fruit or the wood/terroir character. I really liked this wine and would definitely splurge to treat myself to this on a special occasion.
- 2014 Lieu-Dit Les Picheres (17€)
- Croze-Hermitage rouge that is their equivalent of a premier cru. This parcel of land is on the east side of the river (same side as Hermitage). The nose has notes of juicy, fresh red fruit while the the palate has a medium body, medium(+) tannins, medium(+) acid with flavors of cranberry, light black pepper, and leather. Even at 4 years, the tannins on this wine are pretty grippy, so you may want to lay this down for a few more years.
- 2015 Lieu-Dit Paradis (29€)
- The nose on this Saint-Joseph is even richer than the Croze-Hermitage with deeper red fruit, some black fruit, and a flower bouquet. The fruit was grown on high elevation plans so Ferraton could maintain high acid with the rich profile. On the palate, you’ll also find high tannin, medium body, with flavors of black pepper and lighter red fruit. This wine needs to age a bit to integrate and round everything out. It may also bring some tertiary flavors that will combine nicely with the rest of the aromas and flavors.
- 2012 Lieu-Dit Les Eygats (37€)
- From 300m altitude plots in Cornas. The nose has already developed pleasant tertiary character, displaying aromas of raspberries, black currants, minerality, pleasant forest floor, and dried red fruit. The cedar and wood spices come out more on the palate, but there is still a freshness of fruit that drives the wine at this stage. The tannins are high, but very smooth and are balanced with the medium(+) acid and medium body. This wine is a pleasure to drink right now, but might be even better 1-3 years from now. My favorite red in the tasting so far.
- 2011 Les Miaux (47€)
- Ferraton owns 4 hectares of Hermitage, more than I thought. This wine is a blend of different plots from those 4 hectares. Slightly less complex than the Cornas, but more integrated on the nose. The same goes for the palate - there the cooked/dried fruit is the dominant force while the tertiary components play a supporting role. The acid/tannin are medium(+) feel even smoother than the Cornas. The wine seemingly begs you to enjoy it as is without digging too much into the complexity of it. I’m interested to see what happens to the wine 3 years from now.
- 2012 Les Dionnieres (68€)
- Their Grand Cru red from a single plot in Ermitage. This wine spends 14-18 months in 20-30% new oak barrels and it shows. There is a mulch-like earthiness in addition to the typical Syrah notes that comes out with medium(+) intensity. But make no mistake, this nose has depth and is brooding. The palate has high acid and tannin, though both are already very smooth and nearly integrated with the medium body. The flavors emulate the nose in that the notes are predominantly earth driven with red fruit integrated in. This wine should improve with more time in the bottle and a good decant afterwards to open it up, but I see why this is their best wine.
The wines were all very enjoyable and while they may not be the most intense wines out there, they do have a freshness and elegance that makes you want to enjoy them outside in the springtime. Although I left with only Le Reverdy, I would have purchased a case of the wines had they been available in the US for similar prices. Alas, such is the price for not living in Europe. I hope that you have a chance to enjoy Ferraton’s wines some day as well!!
Rating: 95 out of 100