2011 Cornas, Lieu-Dit Les Eygats, Domaine Ferraton, Rhône
Jeb Dunnuck - 30/12/2013
The quality of Ferraton’s wines has been increasing with nearly every new vintage thanks to the efforts of Michel Chapoutier and his number one assistant, P.H. Morel, who has the responsibilities for these wines. I have included a few Southern Rhones that were not reviewed in Issue #203. Some of the 2011 white wines are in bottle, but the more serious cuvees are still in barrel. Ferraton produced four lieu-dit offerings in 2011, which I tasted with Michel Chapoutier and Pierre-Henri Morel.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #204, Dec 2012
About this WINE
Maison Ferraton is a very fine Northern Rhône wine estate that was run for many years by Michel Ferraton. It is now run by Samuel Ferraton, the fourth generation of the family, who worked for a while in conjunction with Chapoutier frères. The firm has vineyard holdings in Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage and its wine cellars are located immediately behind those of Marc Sorrel in the heart of Tain l`Hermitage.
Samuel Ferraton is very much an artisan winemaker- yet he employs many modern techniques that he picked up while working with the Chapoutiers.
Consequently, the wines are a marvellous marriage of the old and the new, displaying good structure and well-defined fruit characters, allied with very judicious and limited use of new oak. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Cornas is a small appellation, just 150 hectares, located south of St Joseph. It’s on the west side of the river. The name “Cornas” comes from an old Celtic dialect term, meaning “burnt land”, so it’s no surprise that on the steep terraces here, facing south, temperatures are significantly higher than those in Hermitage, which is just 7km away.
The granite soils are home to the Syrah grape, producing reds that sit somewhere between those of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. These are strong and powerful wines, with nervy acidity and a robust, rustic charm to them. Their prominent tannins mean that they often demand time in the cellar to express their underlying elegance and complexity.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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A streamlined Cornas, with tension as well as a wealth of fine fruit – nothing at all overdone or out of kilter like some wines from this area which can be just too dense. South facing vines keeping their cool due to their high altitude seems to be the trick – a fine Cornas from one of Hermitage’s lesser-known lights and terrific value too.
Tom Cave, Cellar Plan Manager
From the named lieu-dit to the north of the named village, this is a worthy illustration of both the skill of the winemaker and the renaissance of Cornas in general. Herbal and rich, with hints of jambon cru and liqueur-steeped cherry, Les Eygats marries sweet and savoury, Carnival and Lent, with effortless aplomb.
Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer
Ferraton is owned by Chapoutier, but run as an autonomous entity. For a long time it seemed to underperform, almost as if shocked in the headlights of the energetic charisma of its benefactor. The potential of the vineyards, some of which are located on the very best sites on the Hill of Hermitage, has never been disputed. Now, with Bordelais winemaker Damien Brisset firmly in control, one begins to see, at last, the realisation of potential. I am pleased to have ‘stuck with’ them over the years, as the maturing vintages seldom fail to please and the quality of the current vintage gets better and better.
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