Michel Chapoutier, owner of the Tain l’Hermitage–based M. Chapoutier estate and négociant, is looking south and thinking pink, purchasing the Château des Ferrages estate in Provence. Located in Pourcieux, the property currently includes 67 acres of vineyards in the Côtes-de-Provence and Côtes-de-Provence St.-Victoire appellations, with the majority of its production currently geared to rosé. The purchase price was not disclosed.
While Chapoutier currently produces approximately 75,000 cases a year of rosé from both the southern Rhône and Pays d’Oc, the move gives the producer a strong foothold in Provence, whose rosé wines have exploded in popularity in recent years. Provençal rosé imports to the U.S. have grown by double-digits every year during the past decade, hitting a new high of 6.9 million bottles in 2015, according to Wines of Provence, a winery-funded trade group.
"Fifteen years ago we were discovering Roussillon and starting to look for other terroirs," said Chapoutier. "Ultimately, it's in the natural extension of the Rhône valley, following the legendary Nationale 7 [road], that we now settle in Provence."
Chapoutier plans to convert the vineyard to biodynamic farming, in line with his viticultural practices at his Rhône estate. "It is the limestone of Mont Aurélien that has convinced us the location is exceptional," he said. "After the granite and schist, we want to discover and learn this new terroir through our wines." The estate will keep the Ferrages name, with the new wine to be labeled "Le Grand Ferrage."
The purchase adds to Chapoutier's considerable holdings not only in the Rhône, but also in Roussillon, Alsace and Champagne, as well as ventures in Australia and other regions outside of France.