Once Krug Cellarmaster, Now All-Star: Sublime Rodez Champagne

Posted on: 08/22/18 12:00 PM


With their striking depth, refined power and intensity, the Champagnes from Éric Rodez serve as a vital reminder that Champagne is, first and foremost, a wine. Not just bubbles, Rodez’s wines are real wines, complete and versatile, age-worthy and transportive, they are unequivocally on the same level as great Burgundy, Riesling, or Bordeaux.

“I don’t make Champagne,” Rodez told me. “I make wines from Champagne.” Operatic in its intensity, power and richness, yet thrumming with a mineralic core of rigorous structure. “Éric Rodez’s champagnes feel crafted in the best sense of the word,” gushes Champagne guru Peter Liem. “They display a vinous intensity that obviously comes from quality work in the vineyards, yet they also demonstrate a sophisticated complexity and refinement that indicates a sure hand in the cellar.”

Based in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay (he was also mayor there for over twenty years), Éric is the eighth generation of his family to grow vines in Champagne. He owns nine hectares of Pinot Noir planted along the south and southeastern facing slopes of the village. His training was a three year stint in Burgundy (tasting his wines, this will come to no surprise). His time there taught Rodez the power and importance of being close to your land, and how to properly use oak barrels. A tenure at Krug provided him a very rare master class of creating and blending wine in the cellar.

2010 Les Beurys Pinot Noir Grand Cru

“From an east-facing parcel in Ambonnay with vines averaging 37 years of age, this is, along with the 2010 Les Genettes, the first of Rodez’s new single-vineyard champagnes to be released, as he’s holding back the 2009s and 2008s for further aging. In Les Beurys, there are only about 35 centimeters of topsoil above the chalky bedrock, and this is reflected in the wine’s lithe, racy build and lively red-fruit flavors. It feels succulent and pure, with a crystalline elegance and deft composure, already showing a subtle, soil-driven complexity.” Rating: Outstanding +, Peter Liem

2008 Les Beurys Pinot Noir Grand Cru

“Rodez held this in the cellar longer than his 2009s and 2010s due to the concentration and structure of the 2008 vintage, releasing it in early 2018. In fact this was supposed to be a single-vineyard Les Beurys: “There were four cases of Les Secs, about 170 kilograms of grapes, that were accidentally put into the press along with Les Beurys,” says Rodez. “It didn’t really matter that much, but I wanted to be honest, so I put Les Secs on the label as well.” His parcel of Les Secs lies just 150 meters away from Les Beurys, but here the soil is even poorer, and the slope turns slightly to the southeast. How much it contributes to the overall character is impossible to say, but what’s certain is that this is a stunning wine, demonstrating the succulent purity and elegant finesse of the terroir as well as the sophistication and grandeur of its vintage. It’s long and tense on the palate, with a racy energy and vibrant depth of fruit, and it finishes with excellent length and complexity, underlined by prominently chalky notes of soil. This is outstanding, and it should only gain in expression with further aging.” Rating 3/3 Stars (Highest Class), Peter Liem

2009 Rose de Maceration Les Beurys Grand Cru

“Following the success of Rodez’s outstanding 2010 Les Beurys, which was the first to be released, he’s unveiled this stunning rosé from the same vineyard. Its three-day maceration has resulted in a pale, delicate color that belies the intensity of fruit on both the nose and palate, with succulent notes of raspberry and strawberry that feel sophisticated in texture and tone. There’s a mineral signature that grows in prominence on the finish, inseparably intertwined with the fruit and persisting with remarkable length and detail, and the whole package resonates with a vivid, soil-driven energy, feeling seamlessly knit and superbly expressive.” Rating 3/3 Stars (Highest Class), Peter Liem

Posted in Reserve List By Tim Sellon