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Ferren 2018
17 January 2022

Matt Courtney is the meticulous and reflective architect behind Ferren wines, a micro-project based in the Russian River valley that produces a mere 500 cases of scintillating, Grand Cru-esque Chardonnay each year. The wines that Matt crafts are fast becoming recognised as some California’s most impressive whites – wines of depth, body and detail, akin to the wines made famous by Matt’s previous employer, Helen Turley. It was during the 8 years that Matt spent as Helen’s right-hand man at Marcassin, a period of great critical acclaim for the cult winery, that Matt fine-tuned his winemaking style, while simultaneously identifying the prime vineyard sites that inform this project.

Today Matt works out of the state-of-the-art Arista Winery, producing both the Ferren and Arista labels there. For the Ferren project, Matt’s cuvees tend not to exceed 150 cases, allowing for an entirely kid-gloves approach in both vineyard and winery. The Ferren style is meticulous, involving very close vineyard management – dropping fruit up to four times alone in 2018 for instance – and minimalist, patient, lightly reductive winemaking. Everything is naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts, there’s no battonage and fermentations are generally long and slow: the wines spend about a year in barrel before six months in stainless steel. The resulting Chardonnays are Grand Cru in stature, luxuriant in texture, bold and deep, yet also nuanced and persistent with flowing finishes and plenty of natural acidity. They are imbued with a sunshine that could only be Californian, and a detailed precision of the sort that only comes from gentle handling of perfectly ripe fruit from top vineyards.

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