Famille Isabel Ferrando
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France
Hard work. Subtle tweaks. Responsible farming. An uncompromising dedication to quality. Isabel Ferrando keeps doing things the right way, and her wines are dramatic proof.”
—James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
Proprietress Isabel Ferrando has taken her Saint Prefert estate to France’s highest level, and she’s unquestionably making some of the most profound wines on earth today, including both reds and whites.”
Isabel Ferrando’s reputation for outstanding wines has grown every vintage since her first release in 2003. She launched Domaine Saint-Préfert with 13.2 hectares, purchased from the Serre family, one of the first to estate-bottle in the appellation in the 1930’s. This is the heart of the winery, a single parcel called Les Serres, south of the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s one of the hottest areas in the appellation, but Ferrando manages to coax ethereal wines from this site. Under the Saint Prefert name, she had bottled three wines from Les Serres, “Giraud”, “Auguste Favier” and a classic Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The next year she purchased vines in the north of the appellation and started making the 100% Grenache cuvée Colombis, primarily from the lieux-dit of Colombis, with sandy soil.
After studying her parcels for more than 15 years Ferrando started a new chapter with the release of the 2020 vintage. She decided to lean into the tradition of blending in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, making a single wine from Les Serres, and it’s now the flagship of the estate. She continues to make “Colombis” as well as her Cotes-du-Rhone, and two white Chateauneuf-du-Papes, including the very limited Vieilles Clairettes in magnum. Now, all of Ferrando’s wines are bottled under the name Famille Isabel Ferrando. In 2023, Isabel’s daughter, Guillemette joined the family winery.
Ferrando has always farmed organically and starting in 2019, the vineyards are being managed following biodynamic methods (certified in 2022). She has very old vines in her holdings: the Grenache vines average more than 70 years old, and she still has some of the original Mourvèdre that was planted in the 1920’s. Les Serres has the famous galets stones on the top soil, and the subsoil has layers of blue clay and stones.
In 2022, Ferrando built a new winery with an assortment of cement vats for primary fermentations and blending. Fermentations start naturally with yeasts on the grapes and she works with whole-cluster fermentations on the Chateauneuf-du-Papes. In the cellar, Ferrando works primarily with neutral demi-muids, but she has also introduced some glass demi-johns, Stockinger foudres, and amphora.
Ferrando has been courageous from the start. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a small town and even though she grew up in the south, about thirty minutes away, she was still viewed as an outsider. Henri Bonneau took her under his wing as her mentor and encouraged her to make wines in her own style. Over the years, she has made changes, some big, some small but as Jeb Dunnuck noted after tasting the new wines, “…one thing that remains constant is the incredible quality that continues to emerge from this talented winemaker.” These are truly unique expressions of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and it’s fair to say Isabel Ferrando is at the top of her game.