Eric Texier, Chat Fou, Vin de France, Northern Rhône, France, Bagnum (150cl.), 2021
A man of conviction but by no means a zealot, Eric Texier likes to push the boundaries.
Despite having no experience or contacts in wine, Eric decided to give up his career as a nuclear engineer and study winemaking in 1992, interning with Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget in Mâcon. Lacking the network to buy his own vineyard, Eric did his time with established winemakers then made négoce wines with the fruit of like-minded purists until he was introduced to François Pouchoulin, AKA the Godfather of Brézème. Eric was fascinated by the history of this tiny enclave on the southernmost edge of the Northern Rhone, on the left bank of the Rhone. It is South facing, has limestone-rich clay soils and, at 300 meters of elevation has an increasingly steep aspect with terrain that grows rockier as the slope rises. In the mid-19th century, its wines rivalled those of Hermitage but, by 1961, just one hectare remained. Thanks to Pouchoulin’s help and guidance, Texier eventually succeeded in purchasing a tiny parcel of vines in Brézème. Many years later, Éric has now put the Brézème appellation back on the map, and is the leading grower there. After Brézème, Eric and his wife Laurence (the backbone of their business-they are very much a team and travel everywhere together) purchased another tiny plot, this time in the Ouvèze valley in the Ardèche, on the right bank of the Rhone. This site has granite soils, is at a higher altitude than Brézème and has higher growing temperatures. According to Eric, both of these classic Northern Rhone plots had almost been forgotten because of their isolated geographic position and small surface areas. Today, Eric and Laurence have 12 hectares under vine, with vines aged from 30 to 90 years old on both sides of the Rhone, all worked organically. This is not a sudden conversion or a response to trend, Eric has worked organically since the beginning. As for biodynamics, he follows some of its principles but is not dogmatic about it.
Declassified to Vin de France, as opposed to the more usual Côtes-du-Rhône due to its production method: a blend of 55% Grenache, 30% Cinsault and 15% Clairette from south-facing, granite and gneiss slopes in the Ardèche.
All fruit is organic, harvested by hand, partly de-stemmed and co-fermented with native yeasts in open-top concrete tanks. As with all Texier wines, no extraction techniques are employed, aged in concrete for 12-18 months, unfined, unfiltered and bottled with only the smallest amount of sulphur.
No oak ageing
This 'crazy cat' wine has a real cult following, the blend of red and white grapes producing a joyfully bright wine, with crunchy red fruit, beautiful texture from the concrete fermentation, and incredible purity and drinking pleasure.
A playful wine which should be enjoyed with delicious food; pair with Mediterranean style mezze, grilled lamb, roast aubergines and good company.
6 x 150cl