The Golden Goat Awards 2010: Eric Texier 2008 and the Terroir of Brézème
There are important bottles of wine, and then there are important bottles of wine. The former category are the types of wine that change what you think about wine, and spend a great deal of money collecting, drinking, enjoying. In the latter category are wines that convince you that, yes, there might in fact be a future in cultivating an obscure Northern Rhone appellation and that you should pour everything you have into doing just that.
In March, at dinner with Eric Texier a winemaker i deeply admire both for his wines and his intellectual curiosity, caustic sense of humor, and ability to speak his mind, a bottle of 1996 François Pouchoulin Brézème was brought out. Of course for me this was the second producer of Brézème i had ever tasted, but for Eric it was a lot more than that. As Eric explains it the wines of Monsieur Pouchoulin (for more info go here were the wines that convinced him that this nearly completely forgotten appellation had terroir, that the wines could have specificity not found elsewhere, that Brézème when treated with care would be Brézème and not some muddy indistinct wine. So it was, in fact, a very important wine despite it’s humble origins.
So we drank into the night with Eric, opening old bottles of Chamonard and discussing Jules Chauvet (Eric, unlike me, has read Chauvet and shakes his head at the amount of disinformation being spread in the man’s name), discussing Fukuoka and Didier Barrouillet over Bea, two of the people Eric has the utmost respect for in their efforts to try and change how we approach agriculture. We opened Roumier that was quickly put in away for cooking, older Joguet, 2000 Chateauneuf Blanc from Texier (a stunning wine if you ever get the chance) but i kept coming back to the Pouchoulin. Here was a wine that had convinced someone to make a huge life decision and try and re-establish something nearly lost to all of us. The wine was good, but it was carrying weight outside the glass, reconciling the actual wine with Eric’s story was hard.
On Saturday a friend brought a bottle of Eric’s 2008 Brézème to our house and for the first time, in that weird way that sense memory can seem to fold memory and presnt together, i got exactly what Eric was going for. It wasn’t that i disliked Eric’s wines in the past, quite the opposite in fact, but the connection between the two had been hard. So suddenly upon drinking the 2008 i remembered the 1996. All the flattering aspects of Syrah and the Rhone were present in both wines, that schizophrenic quality in the wines that makes you think the wine is both more and less than what it seems.
Talking to Eric one gets the sense that his wines are a work in progress, that his vineyards and vinification are subject to an ongoing process, not so much to control them, but to learn from observation and study what works, where technique helps terroir and where it begins to defeat it. This was crystallized perfectly in the 2008, if that makes any sense at all. It was a humble, stunning wine that spoke back to a winemaker and a wine, but was still Eric’s wine. Thanks for that.