Champagne Rodez

France, Champagne

Eric Rodez and his wife Martine are in the process of handing over to their son and daughter-in-law Mickaël and Aurélie, who are the ninth generation of the family since the domaine was established in 1757. The family own nine hectares of vines in the Grand Cru classified village of Ambonnay, on the south-eastern corner of the Montagne de Reims. While the majority (80%) is Pinot Noir, they have 18% Chardonnay, all grown on deep chalk and limestone with very little topsoil.

The domaine was the first French farm to receive the ‘HVE’ (High Environmental Value) certificate in 2012. They also received their organic certification in 2012, and Demeter (biodynamic) certification three years later. They use aromatherapy and essential oils to combat attacks of mildew and powdery mildew.

In the cellar Eric learned much from working as an oenologist at Krug. Winemaking takes place in in small oak barrels, no cold stabilising and no filtering. They do not actively seek malolactic fermentation, but the temperature in the barrels is allowed to rise and some (around 20% on average) will go through it. This gives Eric (and Mickaël, who made has made the wines since 2020) another component to add complexity in the blends.

The range can be seen as split into three - Vins d'Auteur, Parcellaires and wines that express the terroir Ambonnay in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Empreinte Blanche and Empreinte Noire. The Vins d'Auteur follow the logic of blending that has always been such a part of the tradition of Champagne, creating anew from each vintage, but with the experience and the reserve wines from the vintages that have preceded. These reserve wine can make up to 70% of these cuvées. The Parcellaires are more or less the opposite, being the unblended product of single vineyards in a single vintage, while the Empreintes are blended from five to seven plots, from a single variety in a single year.

Eric Rodez presides over this biodynamically farmed six-hectare estate in Ambonnay, fermenting most of his wines in barrel and employing a large percentage of reserve wines. These are broad, vinous wines—often gently framed by their exposure to oak—that never lack character or amplitude. William Kelley, The Wine Advocate  (Apr 2018)