The wines of Éric Texier, Rhône and Mâconnais, France
Impressive natural wines from the Rhône and Mâconnais, including a forgotten appellation, Brézème


For Éric Texier (pictured above), wine is a second career. He was working as a nuclear engineer when he decided that he’d prefer to make wine. So, he studied enology at Bordeaux in 1992, and in 1993 he trained as a winemaker with Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget in Mâcon. He made his first vintage in 1995.

He has two sides to his business. First, he makes wines from his own vineyard in Brézème; second, he acts as a negociant across other appellations in the Rhône and Mâconnais.

Brézème is a small appellation in the northern Rhône that Éric is now the king of. He was fascinated by the fact that in the mid-19th century, its wines rivalled those of Hermitage. By 1961, however, just one hectare remained. Éric has now put the appellation back on the map, and is the leading grower there. He now works his own vineyards biodynamically, and makes all his wines in a natural manner, only adding sulfur dioxide at bottling.

For his whites, he doesn’t do battonage. ‘It is not very useful in the Rhône valley,’ says Éric. ‘It adds a lot of fat to the wines and the Rhône whites are fat enough already. I’m not trying to achieve big wines: my idea is to do something balanced’. He adds that, ‘the fewer tricks I use, the better the wines’. He keeps the lees because this helps protect the wines in the absence of sulphur dioxide.

Éric began using biodynamics in the vineyard in 2001, and the first properly biodynamic vintage was 2003. ‘My main concern was that I didn’t want to use herbicides any more, so we had to buy all the equipment to plough with. This was the main obstacle to going to organics and biodynamics.’ He adds that, ‘I don’t believe too much in the biodynamic philosophy, but the results are interesting. Shifting from organics to biodynamics was almost nothing in terms of investment, so I tried it, and I’m carrying on with it, but I’m not a biodynamic ayatollah.’

According to Éric the difference between organics and biodynamics is very small. ‘Once you don’t use herbicides any more, the difference is in the preparations, which are very simple to use’, he says. He buys his preparations from a biodynamic service in Mâcon. He’s Demeter and Ecocert certified, but doesn’t use this on his labels.

‘Biodynamics is very interesting’, says Éric. ‘It’s OK with 3 hectares, but I wouldn’t do it if I had 20 hectares. If you have this size vineyard, you have to be rich to do biodynamics’.

With regard to Syrah, what is his preferred style? ‘I love the Côte-Rôtie wines from the 1970s, for example, those of Gentaz’, says Éric. ‘They’re very Burgundian in style. My idea is to make these kinds of wines. I try not to harvest too late, and I don’t let the acidity drop below 6 g/litre (tartaric).’

Since 2004 he has been working exclusively with whole clusters (including the stems in the ferment) for his reds. ‘This was due to a change in vineyard management,’ says Éric. ‘I get stems ripe—not green—even in a vintage like 2008. The key is getting the stems ripe.’ He has decided not to plough the vineyards any more between the rows, and seeds three times a year with cover crops. ‘The idea is not to bring any more organic compounds from outside.’ He reports that the stems now ripen earlier.   


Tasted in 01/12

Eric Texier Domaine de Pergault Roussette Vieilles Vignes 2009 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
70 year old vines on limestone soil. Lively, mineral, herby nose with citrus and pear fruit. Vital. The palate is taut, fresh and nutty with lively citrus and pear fruit. Bold, structured and alive. 93/100

Eric Texier Roussanne 2011 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
Very fresh and lively with lovely acidity and pure, rounded apple and pear fruit. Textured and alive. Very attractive. 91/100

Eric Texier Brézème Rouge 2009 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
Syrah, whole cluster fermentation. Vivid, bright, focused nose is savoury, meaty, spicy and sapid; lively and complex. Such an elegant, fresh wine. Lovely savoury, intense palate with high acidity and lovely pure fruit. Great structure. 94/100

Eric Texier Domaine de Pergault Brézème ‘Vieille Serine’ Rouge 2009 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
Serine is a local northern Rh
ône clone of Syrah that looks quite different. Rich yet fresh, bold black cherry and plum fruit. Spicy, peppery, concentrated and complex with a savoury, mineral edge. Quite structured with lovely purity and precision. Brilliant. 95/100

Eric Texier St Julien en St Alban ‘Vieille Serine’ 2009 Côtes du Rhône, France
On the opposite side of the Rh
ône, this is from old 70 year old Serine on Gneiss, with no added SO2 at all. Aromatic nose is lively showing mineral-tinged black cherry fruit with some peppery notes. The palate is meaty and lively with raspberry and cherry fruit. Fine, structured and grippy with lovely purity. Really tannic. Lots of life here. 94/100

Older notes from 05/08

Eric Texier Roussanne 2006 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
There’s a lovely soft texture to this wine, but it has some presence, too. Restrained, with floral and nutty notes. Soft with low acicity. 88/100

Eric Texier Domaine de Pergault Blanc 2006 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
From old vines, just two barrels each year of this are made. Mostly Roussanne: Eric isn’t sure of the exact cepage. Complex, taut and well balanced with nice fresh, nutty fruit, citrus freshness, and minerality. Long, complex and fresh with some saltiness that Eric says is from the terroir. 91/100

Eric Texier Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes Blanc 2005 Southern Rhône
4 barrels a year made, with Clairette and Bourboulenc the grape varieties. Complex herby, nutty nose with lovely mineral depth. The palate is concentrated with lovely minerally depth and lively spiciness. Lively, fresh and expressive: plenty happening here. 92/100

Eric Texier Brézème 2006 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
Made like a Beaujolais with carbonic maceration and no sulfur dioxide until bottling. It’s pressed after about 8–10 days and then left in big oak when it still has around 100 g/litre residual sugar. The rest of fermentation continues slowly. Very pure, smooth elegant pure red fruits nose. Floral and open. The palate is fresh and slight meaty. Bright and appealing. 90/100

Eric Texier Domaine de Pergault Rouge 2006 Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France
Made with more traditional Burgundian techniques, including all the stems in the ferment. Pure, slightly spicy, meaty red fruits nose. The palate is expressive with gentle herb and meaty notes, as well as some earthiness under the fresh fruity character. Stylish, elegant Syrah in a lighter style. 91/100

Eric Texier Côtes du Rhône 2006
Mainly Grenache, with 20% white grapes. Bright and smooth with soft ripe red fruit character. Open and attractive with generous fruit. 88/100

Eric Texier Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2005
80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. Focused sweet red fruits nose with a firm spicy edge. The palate is warm and rich with sweet fruit countered by grippy, spicy structure. 90/100

Eric Texier Côte-Rôtie 2006
Gilles Roumier is the grower Eric buys from, and he farms organically. This is elegant, focused and balanced with red fruits dominating, as well as a tight spiciness. Good acidity and bright fruit: a delicious wine that could do with a bit of time in bottle. 92/100

Eric Texier Opâle 2007
A Viognier at 7% alcohol from a poor terroir in Condrieu. Fresh, lively and Kabinett-like with peach, pear and grape fruits. Off-dry with lovely expressive character. 91/100

See also:

The Hill of Hermitage 

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