The Mondeuse of Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte: Young winemakers Nicolas Ferrand & Julien Viana

12/6/21 -

Ferrand in the cellar (

BREAKING NEWS: There are only 9 bottles left of Nicolas Ferrand's thrilling Coteau de la Mort 2017 Mondeuse.Meaning by the time you finish reading this offer (or possibly this sentence) they'll most likely be gone... but do not fear! Our supplier of Domaine des Côtes Rousses has plenty of the 2018 vintage available - an equally delicious wine of dark fruits and flowers, zingy herbs, and strong Alpine structure. These top-of-the-line bottles by Ferrand, a young, self-proclaimed "paysan vigneron," rank among the best Mondeuse I've ever tasted - rivaling even Arbin legend, Louis Magnin. For the lucky ones who get both vintages, they will surely be a compelling side-by-side experience.

"The name of this cuvée refers to the steepness of the slope... and how physically demanding it is to work," writes Vine Trail, an importer of the domaine in the United Kingdom. The company explains that this vineyard was initially farmed by Benedictine monks beginning in the 11th century. Despite being known as a special site, it sat abandoned between the 1930s and its replanting in 1999. "The red clay soils on a limestone base tend to give firmly structured wines built for aging," Vine Trail adds. In my opinion, the '17 and '18 are remarkably tasty today, but, if a drinker should choose to cellar the wines, both will experience exceptional development over the course of a decade.

Cruet, where Jacquere reigns, sits bewtween Arbin and St-Jean-de-la-Porte, where the best Mondeuse is grown

When I compare the Mondeuse of Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte to those of Arbin, just a couple villages over in the Combe-de-Savoie, the former have more spice and herbal complexity on the nose and a more powerful mineral drive on the palate. They don't have as much weight on the tongue as Arbin wines but make up for that with their lively, snappy texture. These are my impressions, but I'm also still learning...

The 2017 Coteau de la Mort is a black cherry color with clear violet edges. The nose is a fragrant bouquet of dried roses, lavender, clove-spiked citrus, black pepper, red berries, eucalyptus, and charming menthol. An earthy aroma of pine and mulchy soil develops as the wine opens. On the palate, crisp fruits of cranberry and tart cherry are latched to a core of crunchy dark minerality. This zing will certainly soften attractively after a few years more in bottle, but a blast to taste today. On the finish, the fruit darkens but remains powerfully edgy, with small black plums and just-ripened blackberries. An herbal coolness sticks around after each sip. Acidity is healthy and tannin is well-placed, becoming chewier with time. A great, great, great wine.

Domaine des Côtes Rousses' 2018 Cotea de la Mort is more Syrah-like than it's previous vintage -  more savory in profile. Very similar in terms of fruit, besides the younger wine showing darker expressions earlier on. Extra peppery on the tongue, with strong tannic form and great acidity. A rounder wine than the '17, with a more generous swish, while retaining classic mineral strength. There is a long life ahead for this Mondeuse if you can resist opening your bottles... it's just so good!

Ferrand has always worked organically, but recently received his biodynamic certification from Demeter. He is constantly innovating in the cellar and experimenting with new low-intervention techniques. His Mondeuse on offer today aren't cheap, but they reflect the spectacular winemaking this domaine insists upon. Still, I wanted to include more affordable expression of Mondeuse from this little valley town in the Savoie - and I found the perfect one:

Julien Viana (

Cellier de la Baraterie's 2018 Mondeuse from Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte is riper than Ferrand's. It's a plump reddish-purple in color. The nose has a juiciness to it, with a surprisingly rich aroma of dark stone fruit, balanced by the tell-tale smells of mint, dark flowers, and wintry spice. Over the evening, the fruit becomes quieter, taking on an elegant softness, allowing the brisker smells to come forward. On the palate, an undertone of dark plum peel is met by red cherry and cassis, cut by a clean, stony middle. Bright acid and medium tannin give this wine good lift, encouraging a fresh and long finish. The wine ends with simple but wonderful note of briny dark olive. A super Mondeuse for the price!

Cellier de la Baraterie is the work of Julien Viana, another fantastic young vigneron working in the Combe-de-Savoie. I first tasted his Cruet (100% Jacquere) many years ago and loved it. The majority of Viana's vineyards are organic, but those that aren't are in conversion to become organic. He also practices many biodynamic approaches in the fields. Like Ferrand, he uses only native yeasts to ferment all his wines. Like the 2017 Coteau de la Mort, the inventory reflected below is all we'll be able to get - so scoop up what you can!

A new generation of winemakers are pushing the envelope in this little part of the Savoie. Both Ferrand and Viana are developing incredibly exciting careers, bringing great farming to historically significant pieces of land, and delivering delicious products to customers around the world. Soon, both their names and wines will be well-known, owing much to these spectacular Mondeuse. Don't wait - try them today! David Hatzopoulos

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