Vigneron is a word with no direct English translation. Loosely transalted from the French, it means a person who makes wine, from grapes they themselves have grown.
The story usually goes something like this: a young person, born into a multi-generational winemaking family decides to buck tradition, transition the farming from conventional to organic and push their winery into the 21st century.
This is not that story.
Born in Bordeaux, but not into a family of winemakers, Eric Texier was working as a nuclear engineer, until the wine bug bit. He wasn't content to just taste or even collect wine, he had to live it. Eric walked away from his job, enrolled in Oenology school and started interning at Verget in Burgundy.
Like so many young winemakers, he found it nearly impossible to find affordable, quality vineyards, not having inherited an estate from his family. Without vines of his own, he didn't have full control and couldn't immerse himself completely in his new life of wine.
After years of hard work and mentoring with old timers, they introduced him to a man who would change his life: François Pouchoulin. This is likely not a name you've heard, but to those in the know he is the “Godfather of Brézème”. He single handedly kept this tiny, once great AOC alive.
Brézème is on the southernmost edge of the Rhone Valley, on the eastern side of the Drome. It has southern exposure, 300 meters of elevation, limestone-rich clay soils and an increasingly steep aspect with terrain that grows rockier as the slope rises. Before mildew, phylloxera and two world wars it was known as the second best wine in Rhone, just after Hermitage.
With the help, guidance, and friendship of Pouchoulin, Texier was allowed to purchase a tiny plot, finally giving him the title vigneron. Eventually he purchased another tiny plot in the Ultra-Hipster-Haven-No-Mans-Land Ardèche, between the Northern and Southern Rhone. This particular plot is on the eastern side of the Rhone River with granite soils, higher altitude than Brézème and greater overall warmth.
Éric feels strongly about his farming pracices—but he is not dogmatic. The same goes for his cellar practices. In his own words, he is “very old-school and very minimalist”, adapting every year for vintage variation. Éric’s attention to detail is exacting and exhaustive, from start to finish.