Eric Texier Domaine de Pergaud St-Julien en St-Alban Vieille Serine 2013
There’s natural wine, and then there are well-farmed grapes made without SO2 addition. This wine is in the latter camp. The tannin of the 70 year old Serine (an old clone of Syrah) vines planted on Gneiss soils preserve this beauty through the challenges of uneven travel conditions, allowing it to shine on our shores. It’s one of the reasons red wines without SO2 or with very low SO2 tend to show far better in B.C. than the naturalist whites – they have superior natural preservatives.
Eric Texier, the famed former nuclear physicist turned Rhone-valley classicist, makes wines both from his own vineyards in Brézème and from negocient (though not ordinary) parcels. This wine, from Texier’s negocient arm, comes from vines that have been farmed by a protestant religious order that have never used any chemical additions or treatments for the nearly 100-years they have run the vineyard. These unusual circumstances make an extraordinary source for top quality negocient grapes.
It’s not surprising that Texier prefers these types of vineyards. He has professed a love for the classic 1970’s style of Cote-Rotie from producers like Gentaz. Those wines are almost unrecognizable in today’s northern Rhone – not for lack of quality but more for climactic conditions. It’s now quite difficult to obtain the tartaric acidity levels with the similarly low alcohols and high aromatics of the Syrahs from 1970’s Cote-Rotie. Instead, those who love such wines have to look to producers like Texier (and the rare Cote-Rotie domaine such as Jean-Michel Stephan) for such classicism.
For my money, this old-vine Serine is absolutely top-notch wine. Forget the 0-sulphur and appreciate the sheer expression, crisp texture, and meditative nature of the wine. Then, when you recall that there is no sulphur addition and, as such, there is a clearer expression of fruit given the other preservatives that prevent faults in this wine, and you can start to understand the meaning of “low-intervention” in a non-banal sense.
This is not the greatest wine of the Northern Rhone, but it is a truthful and rare example of what superb old-vine northern Rhone fruit can do. Serious and real. You can’t ask for much more in a wine.
Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$42 + tax at 39th and Cambie BCLDB (also at private stores)