Monday, December 7, 2020

2018 Éric Teixer Chat Fou Côtes du Rhône: Crazy For This Cat

Sometimes your first impression of a wine, once you taste that first sip, is that it is pure delicious. You don't think about the wine but instead savor its taste. You crave more of it, each sip continuing to bring pleasure. It can easily be enjoyed on its own or with food, from pizza to burgers. You want to share it with friends, to allow them to share the compelling taste of this wine. 

Recently, that is exactly how I felt about the 2018 Éric Teixer Chat Fou Côtes du Rhône (about $23).

A couple weeks ago, I was at the Market at Frank restaurant, and my good friend Adam Japko highly recommended this wine so I bought a couple bottles. I then opened a bottle on the day after Thanksgiving, enjoying it with some leftover turkey dinner. It was absolutely delicious, but there was more to the wine than that. 

The producer, Éric Texier, is a former nuclear engineer from Bordeaux whose passion for wine changed the course of his life. In 1995, he moved to the southern Beaujolais and started learning how to make wine. Eventually, he purchased small parcels of land in the northern Rhône Valley, in Brézème and St. Julien-en-St.-Alban. His vineyards are now certified organic, and he also uses some Biodynamic practices. He is a minimalist wine maker, but is still willing to experiment. Éric has become one of the most compelling producers in the northern Rhône, and after enjoying the Chat Fou, I need to seek out more Texier wines. 

The 2018 Éric Teixer Chat Fou Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% white grapes, including Clairette, Viognier, and Chasselas. The grapes come from the granite-soiled St.Julien-en-St.Alban vineyard. The grapes are fermented with native yeasts in concrete tanks, and it is then aged for a year in concrete. The wine is certified organic, unfiltered, unfined, and has a 13% ABV. In French, "Chat Fou" means "crazy cat.

The wine is intended to be fresh and light, and it certainly accomplishes that objective. It has an alluring fruity nose, with hints of spice. On the palate, you first realize that it is delicious and you're quick to take another taste. However, if you take a few moments to ponder over the wine, you realize it offers some intriguing complexity as well. It's an easy drinking wine but it is far from simple. Besides the delicious red fruit flavors, cherry and raspberry, there are spice notes as well as a subtle minerality. It is a well balanced wine with a very pleasing finish, excellent acidity, and it wasn't long before the bottle was empty.

It went well with Thanksgiving leftovers, but is versatile enough to pair well with many different dishes, from pizza to pasta, burgers to stews. Or just sip it on its own, reveling in its delicious taste. Highly recommended!

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