Eric Rodez Champagne Grand Cru Brut - Cuvée de Crayères (Organic and Biodynamic)
The Rodez family has been making wine for nine generations, beginning as far back as 1757. The 15 acre estate of Champagne Rodez is located in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay - the heart of Pinot Noir country.
The property consists of 35 parcels of vines, and the grape varietals planted are 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay.
The vineyards are planted on clay/limestone soils at a fairly high altitude for Champagne - about 450 feet above sea level - two factors which are ideal for growing Pinot Noir.
Eric Rodez, current vineyard manager and head oenologist for the estate, has worn many hats in his day. Not only was he once the Mayor of Ambonnay, but he also was an oenologist at Krug where he developed his winemaking/blending methods that would later be employed on his own estate.
Eric, his wife Martine, and son Mickael manage all aspects of the winemaking process at Champagne Rodez.
After a particularly rotten vintage in the 1980s, he traveled around France to learn about organic farming. He has since converted to biodynamic viticulture, uses aromatherapy essential oils to prevent disease, and is certified by Haute Valeur Environnmentale which takes biodiversity and water management into consideration.
Farming so naturally is risky in Champagne's marginal climate, but it's vital for Eric to express his terroir as clearly as possible.
The Cuvée des Crayères bottling is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, made from an average of a dozen different wines from four to five vintages with at least 50% of the wines being vinified in small oak barrels, and 65% of the wine coming from reserve wines.
The 2020 bottling is comprised of 31% from 2015, 20% from 2014. 22% from 2013, 15% from 2012, and 12% from 2011, from nearly a dozen different plots. Two thirds of the wines went through malo-lactic fermentation, and the 5 grams of residual sugar per liter would qualify this wine as Extra Brut.
Tasting notes: The nose reveals floral and mineral notes and, upon aeration, red and white fruit savors. The palate is fresh and generous, playing with notes of spring berries. Pinot Noir brings body and structure, Chardonnay conveys delicacy and elegance. The nose is floral with a hint of citrus fruits. The palate is balanced and dense.
From importer Charles Neal: "What you get with Rodez is normally an equal blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, aging in both tank and oak, a wide variety of reserve wines, and three or four years of lees aging. Think of a hypothetical blend of Krug and Egly-Ouriet and you begin to get the idea. Now look at the value prices of these champagnes and ask yourself: "Why in the world would I not be buying these?"