If you are curious about alpine wines, you must check out Savoie's native red variety, Mondeuse. One of the best examples we have encountered this year comes from a first-generation vigneron: Nicolas Ferrand.
Coteau de la Mort, or hill of death, was one of many ancient hill vineyards re-planted during Savoie’s renaissance in the 1990s, thanks to early champions like Michel Grisard of Prieuré St-Christophe. In 2013, it became a part of the 1.5 hectares Ferrand purchased when starting Domaine des Côtes Rousses. Saint Jean de la Porte, one of Savoie’s top crus for Mondeuse, has distinct red clay soils mixed with limestone and moraine. Ferrand has farmed organically from the beginning and utilizes horses and sheep in the vineyards.
Wink Lorch, author of Wines of the French Alps (2019), describes Coteau de la Mort as “a devout and serious wine,” comparing its taut youthfulness to a meditative monk. What a description! It's comparable to Northern Rhône Syrah, with high-toned black cherry, black pepper, and pressed rose petals, but today, the 2018 bottling is also juicy and sleek. It's fair to say Ferrand has our attention with this current release—a refreshing take on this sliver of Savoie history.