Rhone On

Eric Texier, Côtes du Rhone, Brézème, Vieille Serine, 2015

We always think that French wines have centuries of history, and they do, but legal recognition doesn't always date back centuries. Even the famous Bordeaux classification of 1855 is only, well, 170 years old. At the start of the twentieth century, just about all there was to the Rhone was Hermitage, Côte-Rotie and Châteauneuf du Pape. Everything else was lumped under the Côtes du Rhône appellation. As demand for the wines of the Rhone grew, growers had incentive to improve and quality went up. As quality went up, more villages earned their own AOC. Look it up. Even Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage appellations were created as recently as mid-century.

Brézème is a village that never quite made it. Eric Texier, who is one of the vignerons who rediscovered the it, says that in the nineteenth century, its wines rivalled those of Hermitage. Who knows? Today, it’s earned the right for specific village mention on the label, but it must still be sold as a Cotes du Rhone.

Texier has been on my wish list for a few years. I’d read about him and his wines on some wine forums I follow, but although I’d spotted the wines here and there abroad, it never quite made the cut when the time came to allocate luggage space. So I’m pleased Bourgogne Crown has started to import him.

I approached this wine instinctively as though it were a Saint Joseph or a Cornas. And my instincts were spot on. The nose is dense with black pepper, complex and powerful. It's attractive in a gruff and rusty manner, really like an old time Cornas. On the palate, the fruit is perfectly ripe and speared by rusty tannins. A lovely wine, quite moreish even now and it will last and improve for years.