Grand Cru Cuvée de Crayères, Champagne Eric Rodez, NV
Grand Cru Cuvée de Crayères, Champagne Eric Rodez, NV (Ambonnay, Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France) $45
Pinot Noir (55%), Chardonnay (%45)
Eric Rodez’s family has been making wine for many, many generations in Champagne. Rodez first took a crack on his own in 1984, a more than challenging vintage. He attended Lycee Viticole in Beaune and staged in Dijon before heading back home to study enology in Reims.
Rodez also did a short stint at Krug, where he learned the art of blending and spent time in Alsace where a number of the best producers has already begun converting to biodynamic viticulture in 80’s and 90’s.
With the environment and biodiversity being his first goal, Rodez went for Demeter certification first but eventually also became Ecocertified. What he seems to be especially proud of is the HVE (Exploitation de Haute Valeur Environmennementale) certification that he received in June of 2012, the first time it was ever issued.
Rodez starts fermentation in tank using indigenous yeast but after eight days decides if this is enough or if he needs to do a minor inoculation to complete fermentation. Malolactic occurs naturally in some of his cuvees. If it happens great, if not the wine is left to follow its path without intervention.
Among the tricks of the trade Rodez learned at Krug was to have a well-stocked cellar with many reserve wines in barrels and enamel tanks to give him plenty of options for blending.
Cuvée de Crayères is Rodez’s bread and butter Champagne and it truly exemplifies his winemaking. It is a blend of four vintages (’02, ’04, ’05 and ’06) of which 75% was tank aged with the remaining 25% going into oak barrels. Eighty percent underwent malolactic fermentation.
Full-bodied and toasty with lemon rind, vanilla cream, red apples and croissant flakes, this wine does seem a bit like some of the old Krugs I’ve had but Rodez puts his own stamp on it, with a more delicate touch. $45? No doubt about it.