Domaine de Ferrand
What makes the wines of the Rhône so special?
The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind.
Life in the Rhône Valley is at the mercy of the infamous mighty wind, Le Mistral, aptly named from the old Occitan word meaning "masterly". Known at times to reach speeds of up to 180km/h, but still give the vines a beating on even its less impressive days, winemakers have learnt to adapt to the strengths this prevailing force: the excellent clothes drying conditions don't just blow away any chance of rot or mildew developing on the vines and blow away the clouds for lovely sun to ripen the berries, but the winds can literally blow the flowers off the vines early in their development. This reduced yield is associated with more intensely flavoured fruit.
And what better homage than to name a wine after the masterly wind. Domaine de Ferrand's fruit-forward Côtes du Rhône "Mistral" certainly will blow you away for its price.
The domaine, which lies both across the Côtes du Rhône and the prestigious Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellations, has been in the Bravay family since the 19th Century, and boasts some of the oldest Grenache in the area. The current custodian, Phillippe Bravay, who bottled his first vintage in 1997, practices organic farming, and assists the Mistral in keeping yields to a minimum. Vinification is traditional and intervention is minimal with open top fermenters, basket presses and cement tanks.
The Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from the Chemin Saint Jean lieu-dit, keeping good company with neighbours Marcoux and Charvin. But for those really wanting to appease their CNDP taste on a CdR budget, the old vine Grenache in the Côtes du Rhône blend is grown literally across a small country road, placing it just outside the Châteauneuf limits, and whilst it might not come with the papal novacastrian status, it tastes just as de-vine.
Search the Domaine here.
Sangiovese: the star of Chianti and the "blood of Jupiter", according to its name derived from the Latin "sanguis Jovis".
In 1968 the Manetti family, who for centuries were manufacturers of the terracotta tiles in the Chianti region, purchased a rather run-down, overgrown vineyard in the town of Panzano in the heart of the Chianti Classico. Since then they have meticulously tended their vines to become one of the most respected and sought-after producers of the region.
What sets the stage for these biodynamically grown vines is the fact they are nestled in the "Conca d'Ora" or "Golden Shell", a natural amphitheatre in which the heat from the day is retained in the in the calcar clayshist soils during the cool nights, leading to perfect ripening conditions. From the Chianto Classico to the flagship wine from the Flaccianello vineyard, and their ensemble cast including Syrah and Pinot Nero, we believe them all to be star performers with plenty of Jupiter in their blood. See the ensemble cast here.
Staff Pick: Benevelli Piero Langhe Nebbiolo 2020
The Langhe in Piedmont, Italy, is the most well known region for Nebbiolo in the world. It's home to the high-flying Barolo and Barbaresco, but also to the more affordable Langhe Rosso. This is a very good Langhe Nebbiolo at a very affordable price. It's aromatic and structured like you would expect from the variety. Delicious too. It fly's out the door so don't miss out. Find it here.