2013 Ermitage Rouge, Le Méal, Ferraton Père & Fils, Rhône
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.
Hermitage is the most famous of all the northern Rhône appellations. The hill of Hermitage is situated above the town of Tain and overlooks the town of Tournon, just across the river. Hermitage has 120 hectares and produces tiny quantities of very long-lived reds.The vines were grown in Roman times, although local folklore claims their origins to be nearly 600 years earlier. The name ‘Hermitage’ first appeared in the 16th century, derived from a legend of the 13th century Crusade, involving a wounded knight called Gaspard de Stérimberg, who made refuge on the hill, planted vines and became a hermit.
During the 17th century Hermitage was recognised as one of the finest in Europe. In 1775, Ch. Lafite was blended with Hermitage and was one of the greatest wines of its day. In the late 19th century, however, Phylloxera wiped out all the vineyards.
The wines are powerful, with a deep colour and firm tannins, developing into some of the finest examples in France, with the potential to age for many decades. The best Hermitage is produced from several climats or more, blended together. The main climats are Les Bessards, Le Meal, L’Hermite, Les Greffieux and Les Diognieres. Most of the finest climats face broadly south, giving maximum sunshine. Most growers only have one or two climats and they might not complement each other; Hermitage quality can therefore vary hugely. Only the top producers have extensive diversified holdings.
Eighty percent of the wine produced is red, however up to 15 percent of white grapes can be used in the blend. Most growers use 100 percent Syrah and utilise the white grapes to make white wines only. Chapoutier, Jaboulet and Tain l’Hermitage Co-operative are the principle proprietors of the appellation’s vineyards.
The white wines are made from the Marsanne and Roussanne grapes. Great white Hermitage has the ability to age, taking on the fruit characters of apricots and peaches, often giving a very nutty finish. The best examples in great vintages can last 50 years.
Mature red Hermitage can be confused with old Bordeaux. In a blind tasting of 1961 First Growth Clarets, the famous 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle was included. Most people, including its owner, Gerard Jaboulet, mistook it for Ch. Margaux.
Recommended producers: Chave, Jaboulet, Chapoutier, Ferraton, Colombier
Best vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1991, 1990, 1985
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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Le Méal is in a slight dip on the hill and has a little more limestone in its profile, although granite still dominates as it always does in Hermitage. Damien ferments this in concrete tank, which allows what he describes as a ‘better thermic inertia’, whatever that may mean. It seems to have worked, however, as the wine, even in youth, is feminine and silky, its power latent, panther-like and poised.
Simon Field MW - Rhône Buyer
We have followed Ferraton for a long time, some of it, to be frank, less than entirely successful. Our confidence has been based on the quality of the holdings in Hermitage and in the fact that Chapoutier have proved to be liberal and forward-thinking owners, gently guiding but not domineering. In Damien Brisset, now firmly established as winemaker, Ferraton has a great asset, as these excellent 2013s show. An early, almost Pavlovian quest to over-oak has now ceded to thoughtful winemaking and, with the 2013s, a very impressive range, the very best wines of which are listed here.
Lastly, the 2013 Hermitage le Meal is the darkest colored of the Hermitage releases and exhibits smoking notes of tar and melted asphalt, crushed rock, leather and smoked dark fruits. It's a big, full-bodied, chewy effort that stays fresh, balanced and pure. It's another beautiful wine from this estate that will have 20-25 years of longevity.
Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate Issue#216 Dec 2014
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