Documented as having been cultivated in the region for centuries, many grape / wine enthusiasts believe that Fer has its origins in the rugged and mountainous Basque region of Spain, whilst others assume the variety to be indigenous to France. Either way, it is known to have contributed to the dark, full-bodied red blends of a number of southwestern French provinces for many years.
As well as its leading role in the wines of the afore mentioned appellations - in particular Marcillac, where the blend must comprise at least 90% Fer - this unusual grape is also known as a minor constituent in the wines of Madiran, Fronton and Béarn, where it contributes body, firm tannins and spiciness to the blend.
The derivation of the variety’s name, like its origins, is unclear. The most popular theory is that it derives from the French ‘Fer’ meaning iron, with reference to its hard branches. But it has also been argued that the name has its roots in the Latin word ‘Ferrus’, meaning wild and untamed, since the grape is thought to descend from wild vines.
What is known for certain is that Fer Servadou is almost exclusively a French variety with around one-thousand-six-hundred hectares of this vine scattered across the southwest of the country. Whilst inevitably a cause of confusion, French Fer is not related to the Argentine variety of the same name.