2016 Ferraton Crozes-Hermitage “Calendes”
Your experience with single-vineyard Crozes Hermitage is, well… probably limited to the phrase “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And hey, I get it, because that’s been my experience, too. It’s not like Ferraton Pere & Fils Crozes-Hermitage Calendes Rouge just rolls off the tongue.
So let me serve you straight up – here is a red wine that delivers enormous hedonistic and intellectual pleasure from a tiny little region of France. It’s normally incredibly expensive but we’ve got it at a shockingly low price. Let me unpack it all:
Hermitage is a single hillside in the Northern Rhone of France. It’s famous, REALLY famous, but tiny. So if you want to drop a name to your wine geek friends tell them you’ve been drinking Hermitage. Crozes Hermitage is the area (and village) north of the hill of Hermitage. It’s not as famous, but it is still tiny.
Hermitage, and Crozes, is the ancestral home of Syrah. Because this region is so small, and the grapes so particular to site, most people simply have no experience drinking wine made from here. Yet those who do know it’s an experience like no other.
Chapoutier is a name you’ve probably heard. It is a longstanding, 200-plus-year-old producer in the Northern Rhone (and Southern Rhone). The family is justly famous for its storied tradition of making fine wine, but they aren’t resting on their laurels. New projects at home and abroad continue with the next generation of Chapoutiers, and all of their vineyards are now biodynamically farmed as well.
Which brings us to this wine. The Ferraton family was also a longstanding family producer in the Northern Rhone. Unfortunately, the current generation left no heirs (or at least no heirs who wanted to take over a winery in back-country France. So, Michel Chapoutier quietly bought the Ferratons out, but kept their noble family name on the label. And as I stated, this wine is gonna trip every sensorial trigger with its irresistibility:
This growly black bear of a mountain wine delivers a brawny flavor spectrum of black currants and blackberries intermixed with notes of roasted tea, pepper, anise and grilled meats. But while being animal, it’s cerntainly not unapproachable – the palate wants to snuggle with you in its den, delivering a velvety, supple coziness that comes together with a kiss of smoky campfire. I love it as a cocktail wine, but also do yourself a favor and try it with food: a slice of pork fatback (or simply bacon) roasted in molasses and black pepper, served on a luscious bed of mashed potatoes will satisfy the hibernating soul.
As you might guess from how many times I have used word “tiny” or “small” in this email, Crozes Hermitage isn’t something you find sitting on the grocery store shelves, pining its time away for the right imbibor. It’s a treasure that few in their lifetime ever experience. I’m not sure how or why I got a deal on this gem, but I did. There is simply no reason for you not to take advantage.