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Eric and Martine Rodez are the eighth generation (and now with their son Mickael, the ninth generation) of winemakers who first started in 1757 in the great Grand Cru that is Ambonnay. This is a prime site for Pinot Noir due to favourable altitudes (130m average) and S/SE-facing slopes which decrease risk to frost exposure, and the all-important chalk, limestone and clay-limestone that enable production of powerful but elegant Pinot Noir fruit (Rodez don't grow Pinot Meunier but they do have Chardonnay). In addition to his experience in the family business, he has worked elsewhere in Champagne, including as oenologist at Krug, where the blending of small parcels and multi-vintages going back many years, as well as their work with oak barrels, is perhaps most clearly evidenced in his Cuvée des Grands Vintages. Since the mid-1980's and after a particularly difficult harvest in 1984, he travelled and gathered experience in various wine regions including Alsace where he took special note of organic vineyard practices, which he brought back to his 6ha domaine. This he felt was needed to bring out the special characteristics of Ambonnay and the champagnes that the region can produce. To really bring out the minerality and almost sensuality, or as he says, the musicality of the wines, he felt that he needed to go further and so for the past eight years has moved into biodynamic production. In a marginal climate area such as Champagne this is a potentially risky route to take, but one taken by several of the growers whose champagne we stock. As part of this, they have also embraced aromatherapy essential oils in the fight against diseases such as mildew. Eric's aim to be as nature-friendly as possible was recognised by his receipt in 2012 of the Haute Valeur Environnmentale (HVE) certificate which covers not just organic farming but also biodiversity and water management on farms. And if that wasn't enough, in addition to his work as chief oenologist and vineyard manager, his dedication to the region is such that he is also the Mayor of Ambonnay! Edwin Dublin, Champagne Specialist
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