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Nicolas Ferrand

Domaine des Côtes Rousses

VigneronNicolas & Marielle Ferrand
LocationSaint-Jean-de-la-Porte (Savoie)
Size of Domaine5.5 ha
TerroirAlpine climate. Laminated marl with high content of limestone, red clay, limestone scree and moraine soils. Steep slopes (up to 45°) with a southern exposure. 350-580m altitude.
ViticultureCertified biodynamic (Demeter)
View Domaine des Côtes Rousses wines ↓

After studying politics in Lyon, Nicolas Ferrand worked as a land manager for Savoie’s chamber of agriculture but soon found out that office work wasn’t for him.

He created Domaine des Côtes Rousses in 2013 when fellow vigneron Mathieu Goury alerted him that 1.5ha had become available in Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte. This is undoubtedly one of Savoie’s finest terroirs and an area Nicolas holds dear, his grandfather used to herd cows up there.

The domaine takes its name from the lieu-dit Champ Roux where most of the vines are located – a historical terroir with russet-colored clay soils ('roux' and the feminine 'rousse' translate as russet).
01_Vine_Trail_Domaine_Des_Cotes_Rousses_16_9 Jacquère vines at 580m altitude, view towards the Dent d'Arclusaz.

The first few years were hectic for Nicolas, as he worked for Pascal Quenard, looked after his own vines and studied in Beaune. He was joined at the domaine by his wife Marielle, and the couple progressively added to their holdings to reach 5.5ha; 30-60yo vines planted at a density of 10,000 plants/ha. Most of their vineyards overlook the Combe de Savoie on the steep slopes of the Massif des Bauges except for a 0.15ha plot of bergeron in Montmélian and a parcel of altesse in Monthoux.

Interestingly, the southern exposure, steep slopes and lower altitude of this particular part of the Combe de Savoie (Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte) offer growing conditions similar to a Mediterranean climate, as exemplified by the presence of truffles, cicadas, almond trees, and a multitude of wild herbs such as thyme, marjoram and oregano.

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The famous Coteau de la Mort
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The vines that make Armenaz (580m alt)
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Organic from the outset, Nicolas started using plant infusions against diseases in 2018 and completed biodynamic certification in 2021. Coming from a long line of farmers, he loves animals and is also keen on working alongside them whenever possible. His most densely planted vineyards are ploughed by horse, while sheep (shared with Brice Omont of Domaine des Ardoisières) roam through the vineyards in winter, eating weeds and fertilising as they go.

Nicolas prefers 100% whole-bunch fermentation for his mondeuse – a semi-carbonic maceration in cement tanks with no remontages or pigeages. When it comes to ageing, he is phasing out small barrels in favour of terracotta and demi-muids for the reds. The whites are vinified and aged in Alsatian foudres as well as sandstone amphoras. From 2020 the élevages were extended in order not to fine or filtrate anymore. Some wines are bottled without sulphur, some see tiny doses of 10mg/l pre-bottling depending on their strength and stability.

Featured in an article on promising young Savoie winemakers in wine geeks’ favourite magazine Le Rouge et Le Blanc, Nicolas and Marielle clearly have a bright future and we are extremely excited to be working with them.

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Domaine des Côtes Rousses Wines

Les Côtes Rousses

LA PENTE 2018
100% Jacquère (12% alc.)

20 different parcels on steep slopes with limestone scree. Aged in 50% in foudres as well as sandstone amphoras and old barrels, the wine has a very pale colour and a dynamic mouthfeel. With low alcohol to boot it is the perfect wine to slate your thirst on a warm summer’s day. Nicolas comments it’s easy to work with low sulphur when the pH is as low as three – total SO2 of 18mg/l, only added before bottling.

Les Côtes Rousses

ARMENAZ 2018
100% Jacquère (11.5% alc.)

Named after the mountain where Nicolas’ grandparents climbed their Tarantaise cattle during the summer. 0.5ha of stunning 30yo vines planted at 580m altitude, one of the highest and coolest parcels in the cru of St-Jean-de-la-Porte. Right at the outset, Nicolas commented that this foudre aged wine would need at least a year to begin opening out. It’s denser and richer than La Pente due to the rich ferrous clay on which the vines seat. Complex and attractive flavours of Sicilian lemon fruits cut through with a saline limestone twist, typical of this top terroir.

Les Côtes Rousses

ENSEMBLE 2018
100% Altesse (12.5% alc.)

The name of this cuvée gives thanks to all those who lent Nicolas and Marielle a hand with their first wines, a tribute to the collective energy around the domaine. Planted on the limestone hillsides of St-Jean-de-la-Porte, the vines range from young to 30yo and the wine was raised in different wooden vessels as well as sandstone amphoras which bring tension and a welcome reduction. There’s always more weight and spice to altesse wines, thankfully this bottling is lifted and fresh at the same time.

Les Côtes Rousses

LES MONTAGNES ROUSSES 2018
100% Mondeuse (12% alc.)

This is a cuvée named after the red clay typical of the famous mondeuse cru of St-Jean-de-la-Porte. 20yo vines, 100% whole bunches, very gentle extraction (see profile), ageing in terracotta and demi-muids to give the purest expression of the grape – black cherries, violets and spices, low alcohol, enticing rusticity, and a saline finish making this so easy to drink. 10 mg/l total SO2.

Les Côtes Rousses

COTEAU DE LA MORT 2017
100% Mondeuse (12% alc.)

The name of this cuvée (the coteau of death) refers to the steepness of the slope, reaching 40% in some parts, and how physically demanding it is to work. First planted by the Benedictine monks during the 11th century, this was prime terroir until it was abandoned in the 1930s, and only recently replanted (1999) at a density of 10,000 plants/ha. The red clay soils on a limestone base tend to give firmly structured wines built for ageing. Nicolas prefers the use of whole bunches, and there is no pigeage or remontage during a 14 days cuvaison to avoid over-extraction. The élevage takes place in demi-muids (including one Stockinger) for around ten months, the wine is bottled without fining or filtration and just 10mg/l of sulphur added. This is a very serious mondeuse, minty and peppery with a beautiful Chartreuse-like herbal quality, somewhat reminiscent of a fine northern Rhône syrah with its quality of tannins. Drink now to 2027.