Represented by Eric Rodez
Éric Rodez is the eighth generation of his family to grow vines in Champagne, and he has been making wine at his family’s estate in Ambonnay since 1984. Prior to taking over, he worked both in Champagne and elsewhere, including a three-year stint in Burgundy that he says “permitted me to encounter another logic,” one that was more artisanal in spirit and closer to the land.
Today, viticulture is very much at the heart of Rodez’s philosophy. His six hectares of vines lie entirely in the grand cru of Ambonnay, and he is obsessive about maintaining the character of individual plots—from his 36 parcels of vines, he usually vinifies 60 different wines, separated according to both parcel and vine-age. In 1989, he began to focus on improving the health of the soil in his vineyards, believing this to be crucial to the production of a truly great wine. Eliminating both weed killers and chemical fertilizers, he began planting various cover crops and tilling the soil between the rows, and soon afterwards, became interested in biodynamic viticulture.
He notes in addition that it isn’t enough to focus only on the reduction of chemical products. “The issue is not only to choose what’s best for the vines,” says Rodez, “but also to think about how to cause the least amount of damage.” Among the ways that Rodez is now trying to decrease his overall carbon footprint is to combine vineyard operations, doing multiple tasks at one time to reduce his consumption of fuel.
While Rodez places a great deal of emphasis on work in the vineyards, it’s most likely his work in the cellar that sets him apart from many other grower estates. His time in Burgundy taught him how to work with oak barrels, and once back home in Champagne, working in the cellars at Krug taught him how to apply this knowledge to the making of champagne. Today, 80 percent of his vinification is in wood, which he says changes the texture of a wine, giving it another dimension.
Information courtesy of Peter Liem's ChampagneGuide.net ©