2017 Domaine de Ferrand, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
The beautifullly pure and palate pleasing Domaine de Ferrand 2017 Chateaneuf-du-Pape by vigneron Philippe Bravay comes from some of the oldest Grenache vines in the appellation, with some plots planted in their best lieu-dits date back to 1904, which gives wonderful concentration as well as remarkable elegance even in warm vintages such as this one. The classic Chateauneuf from Ferrand is made from 90% Grenache and 10% coming from a field blend of the AOC’s allowed varietals that can include red and white grapes which more than likely have small amounts of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault mainly, though Ferrand also have Vaccarèse and Csarignan too. The average age of Ferrand’s Chateauneuf vines is close to 75 years old and set on the region’s noted limestone (Marl) and sandy clay, with the famous Galets Roules (round stones) scattered throughout, with Bravay using all organic practices in the farming of these majestic old vines. The 2017 feels ripe and warm on the full bodied palate with a lovely array of deep berry fruits, a touch of earthiness, spice and pretty floral notes all delivered with soulful subtlety and raw detail with boysenberry, plum, pomegranate and kirsch leading the way along with cinnamon, anise, pepper and a faint leathery element. As the wine opens it fills out in the mouth and gains an opulence that is smile inducing and welcome without heaviness or overt flavors gaining a touch of creme de cassis, though also showing a fine sense of mineral and it keeps its savory/umami contrast. This is absolute addictive stuff and I’m so glad I got more than one bottle as I will certainly be craving more of this Domaine de Ferrand in the coming weeks and or months!

The Ferrand Chateauneuf parcels are all located in the slightly cooler zone at the north edge of the appellation that seems to give the wines a bit more delicacy and balance and certainly the Ferrand style is more old school and traditional without a boozy feel, even though this 2017 comes in with close to 15% natural alcohol, nor does it display a cloying thickness, making it wonderful with a range of cuisine options. Bravay is passionate about presenting purity, so the Domaine de Ferrand saw no oak, with fermentation and aging done exclusively in stainless and concrete vats with vintage dependent partial whole cluster. Bravay says he doesn’t use barriques to allow the vines to truly speak of place and during the aging, the wine is neither racked nor blended, with Philippe adds is done only just before bottling and no addition of preservatives is ever done. Grenache and Rhone fans will really want to discover the latest releases from Domaine de Ferrand, especially the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Chateauneufs, all of which are hand crafted wines of sublime quality. I’m so glad I opened this 2017 last night for our Christmas Eve dinner and an evening by a warm fire celebrating the peaceful moment and feeling grateful for small joys in a year that has brought so much darkness and uncertainty, this wine really added to that sense of thankful contentment in life’s simple gifts of family and friendship. To everyone, I wish you these moments of peace, happiness and grace, Merry Christmas 2020 and I hope we can look forward to a better new year.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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