ABOUT THIS WINE
45% Grenache/35% Cinsault/20% white blend (Clairette/Viognier/Chasselas/other). From vines planted on a south-facing slope on granite soils in the warm St-Julien en St-Alban zone (in the Ardèche on the northern bank of the Ouvèze--to the west of the Rhône River, at the southern edge of the northern Rhône Valley). The fruit is organically farmed (certified) and the varieties co-harvested by hand. The bunches are part de-stemmed, part pressed directly, and fermented with native yeasts in concrete tanks with a short 5-day maceration and no sulfur. There are no extraction techniques utitlized. The wine is aged in tank on its fine lees for a year and bottled without fining or filtration.
"Chat Fou" is by design a fresh, light "vin bistro", as Eric T. refers to it. He added Cinsault and reduced the Grenache since the 2019 vintage to move it in the direction of greater charm. Plus, he feels that compared to Grenache, Cinsault is a much more sustainable and potentially successful variety in the face of sky-rocketing temperatures in the Rhône.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER
Eric is a trailblazer, putting all the but extinct regions of Brézème and Saint Julien en Saint Alban on the map. He experiments with concepts you rarely if ever hear about elsewhere: finding acidity in Marsanne through anforas, not working the soil in favor of cover crops, "infusion" macerations, working on his own grafts, rediscovering forgotten grapes adaptable to the very real threat of climate change...
He originally became a winemaker after a first career as an engineer in the nuclear industry and without any family background in vines or wines. As such, his goals and methods developed not so much from his years of schooling, but from his readings, his visiting winemakers around the world, and working in Burgundy with Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget.
After giving up the idea of buying vineyards, which was too costly a proposition for a beginner with his ambitions, he started a small négoce where he selected particularly interesting vineyard plots worked by the sincere, hard-working farmers who grew the healthy grapes he wanted to buy and vinify. He rediscovered nearly forgotten areas of ancient fame, like Brézème in the northern Côtes-du-Rhône, and nurtured relationships with people who tend their vines with passion and care. Over the years, the shift from négociant to vigneron has occurred, and today Eric owns and rents the vast majority of the vines that go into his production. He has also replanted several hectares in Brézème and in Saint-Julien en Saint-Alban with Syrah and Roussanne.
In his purely négoce days, Eric was producing 30 different wines from 10 different origins, mostly but not limited to the Northern Rhône. As a land owner and vigneron, he produces 12 different wines from four different origins, with the Côte Rotie, Rasteau and Châteauneuf du Pape the only remaining cuvées made with purchased fruit.
The wines are vinified in their areas of production, which means a lot of time management and traveling at the time of harvest. When they have obtained their AOC, the young wines are transported to Charnay-en-Beaujolais, just north of Lyon, where Eric lives and owns a wonderful élevage cellar. This beautiful underground, vaulted cellar was built in the 16th century, and temperatures stay cool and stable through the year.
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