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Eric Texier St. Gervais des Cadinieres Cotes du Rhone 2000
In 1992, Éric went back to Bordeaux to formally study viticulture and oenology at Bordeaux University. When he finished he worked with Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget. Guffens, who above all respected the terroir and strived to make wines reflecting the terroir, taught Éric to use the lees to enhance the wine's natural flavors rather than discard them as byproducts of winemaking. He also taught to embrace the botrytis affected grapes to produce superbly concentrated sweet wines. And it was there that Éric developed the abilities to determine the vigneron's viticulture practices and to only buy from growers who had respected the terroir and used minimal intervention into the natural life cycle (generally organic principles of little to no herbicides, no machines, etc.).
Applying old world traditions and experience with the new world's freedom Éric made his first wine in 1995. He began in the Mâconnais (a department in the Bourgogne region) and soon expanded to the Nôrthern Rhône which lead him still further south to the many Côte du Rhône villages and finally to Châteauneuf du Pape.
Today Éric produces approximately 25 unique wines each year that can be found in more than 10 countries around the world.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhone actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of the major southern Rhône appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhône appellations. White can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red varieties include most of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.