Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, Sauvignon Gris, Muscadelle, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Château Ferran is located on the Haut Benauge plateau in the Entre Deux Mers and Bordeaux Supérieur appellations. The soils are mostly made up of clay and limestone mixed with marl and iron-laden sub-structures. The vineyards are for the most part gently sloping towards the Saint Pierre de Bat stream that borders the estate and its neighboring village. The vineyards lie in a relatively high elevation for the region, as they are between 40 and 60 meters above sea level, which results in cooler temperatures during the summer, much needed for the fruit / acidity balance of the grapes.
Having farmed biodynamically since 2000 (the Ferrans were among the first in Bordeaux), it’s no surprise that Chateau Ferran-St Pierre is hospitable to much more than grape vines. Amidst their 34ha estate you’ll find deer, wild boar, foxes, turtles and bats; doves, falcons, sparrows and kingfishers; all sorts of insects; and lots of worms. Indeed, the Ferrans recently added a flock of sheep.
Julien Ferran is the current proprietor and winegrower for the Chateau, which was started by his father Alain in 2000 after a falling out of sorts with his parents and their estate. Alain had studied viticulture at the University of Gironde in the 1970s and, upon graduation, almost immediately turned to organic and biodynamic farming for his family’s vineyards. He also spent a few years working for smaller growers in Margaux, Pessace Leognan, Medoc and Madian.
Julien had not initially planned to assume the mantle of Chateau Ferran, studying biology in Toulouse, but changed course when his brother declined to do so. He consequently spent four years studying viticulture and working in various small wineries in Entre Deux Mers and Southwest France. Needless to say, Alain remains Julien’s most important mentor.
Wine has been made from the estate since the end of the First World War, and the family manor was constructed in the early 1600s. “Tacaou”, which is the name for one of the Chateau’s line of wines, is the medieval name for the estate. In the old Occitan language, it means “high point”.
The Ferrans own 34 hectares in total: 24 contiguous hectares centered on the Chateau’s cellar and ribboned by 6ha of protective forest and prairie land. They own two other parcels, each within 4-5km of the central property: 5ha in St Pierre de Bat and 5ha in Moureins. Soils are dominated by clay and limestone and they have a higher iron content than much of Bordeaux Superieur and Entre deux Mers.
The humid climate of the region does not make sustainable farming of any type easy, which is why, accoding to Julien’s estimates, only 5-10% of vineyards are organically farmed and a mere 1% are biodynamically farmed. The Ferran’s vineyards are fertilized through the use of manure and mulchings. Green cover of weeds, wild flowers and selected flowers to promote a bee-friendly ecosystem run through each row. Julien’s mother Beatrice has also added beehives around the property. Weeds are cleared only immediately under the vines. The family has never seen a need to control insects. To mitigate fungus problems, Julien has begun a bold project around the estate to create ponds, whose much-more-humid microclimates would draw attract fungus spores away from the vines.
All of these elements come together to create wondrously unique and delicious wines that weave together the elegance of Bordeaux with a touch of the sauvage that results from hands-off viticulture and vinification.