Located a few kilometers from Saint-Emilion, on the right bank of Bordeaux, Chateau de Ferrand was founded in 1702 by Elie de Bétoulaud. Having had no children, he bequeathed Chateau de...Read More
Perched on the picturesque plateau of Saint Hippolyte, overlooking the verdant Dordogne Valley from Bordeaux’s Right Bank, Chateau de Ferrand is a property deserving of recognition. The chateau was designed during the Age of Enlightenment by the visionary Elio de Betoulaud to reflect the elegant yet eclectic and joyful nature of Versailles, as well as its chief resident Louis XIV. Ferrand is still one of the only Bordeaux estates still in operation to have been owned by only two families during its 300+ years of history.
When the Bich family acquired the estate in the 1970’s, they turned their focus on modernizing its winery, eventually converting to sustainable practices in the vineyard and plot-by-plot winemaking at the cellar. In 2012, these efforts were rewarded when the chateau was named a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé. Today, the wines of Chateau de Ferrand – its namesake Grand Vin and its second wine called Le Different de Chateau de Ferrand – represent some of the best that the appellation has to offer.
Château de Ferrand was born in 1702, during a period referred to in France as the Age of Enlightenment. The man behind the property was a lawyer, courtier, philanthropist and visionary urban planner by the name of Elie de Betoulaud, who created the chateau in his own very unique image. For the setting of his masterpiece he chose the Saint-Émilion wine region of Bordeaux with beautiful views of the Dordogne Valley. He constructed Ferrand in a style that reflected the elegant and eclectic nature of Versailles, in ode to Betoulaud’s beloved Louis XIV. Betoulaud also transformed the lyre-shaped caves on the property into a place to display his extensive collection of curiosities, rare sculptures and fossils to show guests of the chateau.
Unfortunately, Elie de Betoulaud would never meet Louis XIV, as the founder of Ferrand died of a heart attack while travelling to Paris to meet the king. With no direct heir, Betoulaud left the chateau to his great-grandnephews, among them Marquis de Mons. The latter would pass it down in the family from one generation to the next until the late 1970’s.
It was during the 1970’s that the chateau would change hands for the very first time, as one of the only still-operating Bordeaux wine estates to have been owned by only 2 families throughout its history. In 1978, an industrialist named Baron Bich bought the property, selling his namesake mineral water brand to be able to do so. Following Baron Bich’s death, the chateau stayed in his family. It was inherited by Bich’s daughter Pauline Bich Chandon-Moët and her husband Philippe Chandon-Moët.
Since 2010, the family has invested significantly in the chateau, reconstructing and replanting the vineyards following an in-depth study of the soils. The viticultural team has adopted new cultivation strategies. The winemaking facilities have been updated and the cellars modernized, with the introduction of vats fit for plot-by-plot winemaking. All these changes have paid off in remarkable improvements to the quality of the chateau’s wine. In 2012, Chateau de Ferrand earned the status of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe.
In the past few years, an architect and interior designers have been brought in to breathe new life into the chateau. The estate now boasts a beautiful new Orangery reception room with a modular design and a one-of-a-kind sculpture ceiling. Local Frontenac stone has been used, along with oak and natural leather to emphasize the chateau’s timeless style. There is also a curved tasting room featuring a metal structure surrounded by smoked wood and a screen, as well as a tasting room with a landscape mural created with Bic ballpoint pen.
The Chateau de Ferrand is situated in the Saint-Emilion appellation on the Right Bank of the Bordeaux wine region in France. The 80-acre vineyard is planted in clay-limestone hillsides overlooking the Dordogne Valley at an altitude of around 100 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest vineyards of its appellation. At this elevated position, the site is very well ventilated and the soils well drained.
Starting around the 2010 vintage, a very thorough analysis was carried out on the soil types found in the vineyard and the results were used to replant the vineyard in a way that made most sense for each grape variety. Each individual plot is cultivated according to the composition of its soil, which ranges from sandy clay limestone soils to calcareous soils to compacted marl and clayey-sand. At the same time, planting density was increased to 8,300 vines per hectare and leaf-to-fruit ratio also increased, leading to higher quality fruit. Today the Ferrand vineyard is planted with 70% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines are pruned in single Guyot and treated to budding and disbudding to ensure the highest possible quality.
Since 2012, Ferrand has also been a leader in sustainability in the Saint-Emilion appellation, achieving its Terra Vitis certification, along with its HVE Level 3 environmental certification in 2018. The viticultural techniques are carried out with sustainability in mind, with a profound respect for nature and for the ecological system of which the vine is a part. The soils are tilled by hand, grass cover is maintained between vine rows to encourage biodiversity and the harvest is carried out manually as well. The team is using more and more organic cultivation each year and has eliminated the use of insecticides, now replaced by integrated pest management techniques. No herbicides have been used at the property for over 15 years and the soil is treated with organic fertilizers from a nearby cattle farm.
Additionally, the vineyard is surrounded by 25 acres of natural woodland and meadows, which are kept as protected parks and are home to a wide range of native flora and fauna.
At Chateau de Ferrand, the grapes are sorted in three steps: by hand in the vineyard, by hand at the winery and then by optical sorting. The fruit is transferred by gravity to the vats, which come in a range of sizes to accommodate plot-by-plot vinification.
The wines are matured in French oak barrels for 14 to 18 months, depending on the specific requirements of each vintage. The cellar team tastes each batch consistently to prepare for the blending process, which enables the team to achieve balance between the various plots and grape varieties. After bottling at the chateau, the wine is stored in its temperature-controlled cellars at temperature ideal conditions.
In true Bordelais fashion, Chateau de Ferrand produces two wines, its namesake Grand Vin and a Second Wine. The Chateau de Ferrand First Wine tends to have a garnet color, revealing intense aromas of ripe fruit and touches of spice. On the palate, it offers ripe red fruit, raspberry, blackcurrant and blueberry flavors. Smooth tannins persist into a very long and lingering finish.
The estate’s second wine, named Le Different de Chateau de Ferrand, has been produced since the 2007 vintage from the same terroir as its older brother and with the same dedication to quality. This more approachable style is made to be enjoyed young. Nevertheless, it boasts a beautiful finesse and elegant aromas.
Chateau de Ferrand wines have a certain elegant acidity and rich red and black fruit flavors that allow them to pair beautifully with a wide range of foods. The property recommends pairing vintages like the 2014 with hearty poultry dishes, like a roast chicken stuffed with hazelnut, served with charred vegetables.