Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eric Texier's Côtes du Rhône from the Northern Rhône



From the excellent 2010 vintage in the Northern Rhône are these two overachieving Côtes du Rhône from highly praised producer Eric Texier.

Texier pioneered the exploitation of the nearly forgotten viticultural area of Brézème, located just 20 miles south of Hermitage. It is the only Côtes du Rhône appellation that requires Syrah as the sole grape varietal. Historically, the vineyards were situated on the steep south-facing slopes of clay and limestone soils. As soon as Texier saw this area in the early 1990s he realized its potential for producing great Syrah like in neighboring Hermitage, which has a similar geological and topographical characteristic.

After pioneering Brézème, Eric Texier discovered another lost terroir in the Northern Rhône, the vineyards of St.-Juilien en St.-Alban. Lying on the west bank of the Rhône River across from Brézème is the area of St.-Julien en St.-Alban. There an old vineyard named Domaine Pergaud is planted with 70 year-old Syrah vines of the ancient variety, called Serine. Just a handful of producers in the Northern Rhône still have the Serine Syrah planted. Eric Texier just started producing a new wine from this vineyard. He says there only two producers in St.-Julien en St.-Alban. Here is his notes about this ancient vineyard:

"Eleven hectares of vines cut off from the rest of the world, worked like people did 50 years ago, never treated with any chemicals. The jewel of this crown is a plot of 1.3HA of old Serines (Serine is the name of an ancient type of Syrah vines), 70 years old, planted on blue marl and sandstone, never replanted but propagated by marcottage ( marcottage is a method of propagation where a live cane is buried into the ground to take root and sprout a new vine.)" -Eric Texier

2010 is another terrific vintage for Northern Rhône reds, more classic and elegant compared to the softer, riper 2009. Both these wines are beautiful Northern Rhone Syrahs at very modest prices.

Cotes du Rhone Rouge Brezeme, Eric Texier 2010 $23.00 (Click to buy!)
100% Syrah from the Northern Rhône planted on southfacing, steep hillsides. Dark, aromatic fruit with bright tones and a fleshy texture. Its elegance and depth are pure Northern Rhône.

"Brézème is made with Syrah from a cold climate area. It is an untamed wine with a strong personality, presenting blackcurrant aromas and intense black olive flavours. Showing a similar balance between crispness and structure to Burgundy wines during the first years, it softens after aging 3 to 5 years. Drink with rustic meat dishes when young, poultry and game after aging." Eric Texier

St.-Julien en St.-Alban Cotes du Rhone Rouge "Vieille Serine Domaine de Pergaud", Eric Texier 2010 $30.00 (Click to buy!)
Few have heard of this wine that Eric Texier produces from an old Syrah vineyard planted with the ancient Serine variety. The St.-Julien en St.-Alban is situated on the west bank of the Rhone River, across from the now well-known Brézème, which Texier also pioneered several years ago. The vines in the oldest parcel are 70 years-old. Texier makes less than 400 cases from this old parcel. Aromatic, rich and concentrated but graceful and complex, and showing very good finesse as you'd expect from the more classic 2010 vintage.

"Eleven hectares of vines cut off from the rest of the world, worked like people did 50 years ago, never treated with any chemicals. The jewel of this crown is a plot of 1.3HA of old Serines (Serine is the name of an ancient type of Syrah vines), 70 years old, planted on blue marl and sandstone, never replanted but propagated by marcottage ( marcottage is a method of propagation where a live cane is buried into the ground to take root and sprout a new vine.)" -Eric Texier

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