A couple of weeks ago, we were joined in our tasting room by Justine Feraud, who was showing us two vintages of her new Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Porte Rouge.
You may well recognise the name Feraud as Justine is the daughter of Laurence Feraud, owner and winemaker of Domaine du Pegau, one of the most consistently outstanding producers in the Southern Rhône. The Feraud family completely took over Domaine Porte Rouge in 2022 and today the estate is essentially run by Justine and her brother Maxim. I first visited Domaine de Pegau in 2001 and I certainly saw Justine and Maxim when they were young children, to see them making wines themselves in 2023 is both exciting and, for me, personally, unnerving as it just underlines that I am getting older!
This is a small estate with just 3.5 hectares of old vines, but Justine explained that further purchases are in hand to supplement this vineyard holding, not least a parcel of vines close to the vineyard that dominates Domaine du Pegau’s Cuvée da Capo. The current vineyards comprise six different plots on stony, sandy, clay and limestone soils and have been certified organic since 2014. Across these plots, the vines are predominantly Grenache (80%) with the balance divided between Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. The domaine’s cellars are situated in the heart of Châteauneuf-du-Pape; in fact, the name comes from the fact that the cellars are situated next to one of the two gateways to the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape that date back to papal times.
As with any new acquisition (and acquisition is the correct word here as Bernard Friedmann founded the estate in 2001), it takes time to find the clearest representation of the style and direction, but having tasted these two young wines – the 2020 and 2021 – with Justine, I was struck by the freshness and lightness of touch. Balance is central to what Justine is trying to achieve, and frankly for a couple of first vintages, these wines were seriously impressive. Given the know-how that resides in the family, and the fact that Laurence is on hand to provide guidance and further investment, I will be fascinated to see where this domaine heads. Stylistically, Justine isn’t looking to mirror her mother’s wines, yet clearly a more traditional approach remains central. Justine is intent on producing refined wines, that lightness of touch is important to her – something she stressed when we met, when she explained her love of fine Burgundy. Justine is keen to incorporate a proportion of stems, but this varies vintage to vintage, and the wine is aged in old barrels for 24 months.
So, there you have it, it is early (red) doors for Justine and the team at Domaine Porte Rouge, and their first releases do not miss the mark, but I have a sneaky feeling that there will be so much more to come in time. The ambition is clear, and the winemaking philosophy well considered and thought through…I think they can only go from strength to strength.
Very few critics have had the chance to taste, and very few merchants will have the chance to offer on account of the tiny volumes. Jeb Dunnuck tasted the 2020 in early 2021 at a very young stage. I include his note below for completeness, but having tasted two weeks ago, I think it is fair to state that the wine has come on since those comments.