- Brézème, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes-du-Rhône, St-Julien-en-St Alban, Rhône, France
Thank you to Louis/Dressner for this Texier profile:
(Click here to go to Louis/Dressner's Texier notes, photos and interview)
It is no exaggeration that Eric Texier is one of the most important people we have come to know in our 30+ years of wine importing. Not important in a boisterous or regal sense, but rather from an evolutionary perspective. People like Eric and his wife Laurence helped us discover that mutual respect, growth and friendship were possible in this line of work, that a "business relationship" could shape philosophies, world views, values and even our senses of humor! For this we are grateful.
A Bordeaux native who has lived in or around Lyon since 1979, Eric is a jovial, energetic and fun-loving person who wants his wines to make their drinkers happy. But he is also a boundary pusher, endlessly questioning his own work (and, let's be honest, that of others) for the sake of moving viticulture and winemaking forward.
Eric is a trailblazer, putting all the but extinct regions of Brézème and Saint Julien en Saint Alban on the map. He experiments with concepts you rarely if ever hear about elsewhere: finding acidity in Marsanne through anforas, not working the soil in favor of cover crops, "infusion" macerations, working on his own grafts, rediscovering forgotten grapes adaptable to the very real threat of climate change...
Strongly opinionated, he is not afraid to ruffle feathers or call people out on their bullsheeeeet in his heavily accented but perfect English. And since Eric always backs his claims with serious research, careful thought and true care for the subject matter, you'd best think twice before writing him off. I mean, the guy used to be a nuclear engineer!
Having said that, Eric loves to learn and exchange. And can even admit when he's wrong! One of the things we are most proud of here at LDM is the cross-pollination of growers we work with: growers who've befriended each other, talked shop for hours and drawn inspiration from each other's know-how and techniques. Eric truly is the poster child and "the glue" of so many of these friendships.
He originally became a winemaker after a first career as an engineer in the nuclear industry and without any family background in vines or wines. As such, his goals and methods developed not so much from his years of schooling, but from his readings, his visiting winemakers around the world, and working in Burgundy with Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget.
After giving up the idea of buying vineyards, which was too costly a proposition for a beginner with his ambitions, he started a small négoce where he selected particularly interesting vineyard plots worked by the sincere, hard-working farmers who grew the healthy grapes he wanted to buy and vinify. He rediscovered nearly forgotten areas of ancient fame, like Brézème in the northern Côtes-du-Rhône, and nurtured relationships with people who tend their vines with passion and care. Over the years, the shift from négociant to vigneron has occurred, and today Eric owns and rents the vast majority of the vines that go into his production. He has also replanted several hectares in Brézème and in Saint-Julien en Saint-Alban with Syrah and Roussanne.
In his purely négoce days, Eric was producing 30 different wines from 10 different origins, mostly but not limited to the Northern Rhône. As a land owner and vigneron, he produces 12 different wines from four different origins, with the Côte Rotie, Rasteau and Châteauneuf du Pape the only remaining cuvées made with purchased fruit.
The wines are vinified in their areas of production, which means a lot of time management and traveling at the time of harvest. When they have obtained their AOC, the young wines are transported to Charnay-en-Beaujolais, just north of Lyon, where Eric lives and owns a wonderful élevage cellar. This beautiful underground, vaulted cellar was built in the 16th century, and temperatures stay cool and stable through the year.
Like all good winemakers, Eric strongly believes that wines are made in the vineyard, and that his work, after the harvest, consists in following the lead of the vintage and accompanying the wines so they fulfill their potential. Exact steps in vinification vary according to the varietals, terroirs and vintages, but the goal is always to provide the grapes, musts and wines with the best environment and to intervene as little as possible.
His techniques for white wines include sorting in the vines and at the winery, whole clusters pressed in a vertical press (that’s the old fashioned wood kind), no added yeasts, barrel, concrete and ceramic fermentation (no new wood), aging on fine lees, malolactic fermentation for all the wines, minimal use of SO2 at bottling only, no pump-overs, fining and filtration only when absolutely necessary.
For his red wines, he does the same sorting at harvest, no destemming most of the time, bringing the grapes to the press by conveyor belts, cold maceration under a CO2 blanket for aromatic extraction, natural yeasts, very little to no extraction during maceration and fermentation. The temperatures are controlled not to exceed 34 degrees C (93F), aging is done mostly in concrete, old foudres and demi-muids of 450L, no filtration and egg white fining only when necessary.