Champagne Eric Rodez “Millesime 2007” (Ambonnay, Grand Cru)
Eighth generation vigneron Eric Rodez cultivates around 40 acres of vineyards, all in the Grand Cru of Ambonnay. Due its chalk, limestone and clay subsoil, favorable altitudes (400ft average), and south/southeast-facing slopes which decrease risk to frost exposure, this is a prime site for Pinot Noir. Yet one of the first surprises at Champagne Rodez is that a large proportion of his plantings are actually Chardonnay, which makes for broader potential during blending and also adds freshness and finesse to the wines.
Pragmatism rules in these vineyards at the extreme edge of the production range, so aspects of organic and biodynamic cultivation are used alongside the more conventional lutte raisonée (reasoned fight), all with the aim of producing the best fruit possible given the challenges of the growing year. Eric’s aim to be as eco-friendly as possible was recognized by his receipt of the Haute Valeur Environnmentale certification in 2012. The certification covers organic farming, biodiversity and water management.
In addition to his experience in the family business, Eric has also worked as oenologist at the the venerable Champagne house of Krug, where he developed his passion for blending small parcels and multi-vintages, as well as using oak barrels. About 70% of Rodez Champagne is fermented and aged in oak.
2007 was a year of wildly fluctuating weather patterns. Early flowering led to a wet and chilly end of summer that seemed to be heading toward disaster. Fortunately, a north wind blew in to dry the vineyards and the sun returned to finish ripening the grapes. Because of these unusual climatic conditions generally only the best growers, who made made the most vigorous vineyard selections, were able to release vintage cuvées.
Champagne Eric Rodez “Millesime 2007” illustrates the talent and effort of a top grower. It’s a blend of nearly equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay entirely from the 2007 harvest. The majority of the wine was fermented and aged in oak. It spent seven years on the lees developing complexity before disgorgement in January of 2015. Massive aromas of orchard fruits, fresh cut hay, brioche, and toast precede a mouthful of richness without weight. While you can hold onto this bottle for years to come there’s no reason not to drink it now.
New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov thinks Champagne Rodez is worth talking about. Check out his recent piece on Champagnes You’ve Never Heard Of.
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