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Champagne Louis Roederer boasts generations of family ownership and a range of Champagnes that reflect its long-standing pursuit of excellence.
How do you measure the greatness of a Champagne house? A long and distinguished history, family ownership over six generations and an unswerving dedication to excellence? Champagne Louis Roederer is one of the very few Champagne producers who can fulfil all of these criteria.
Established in 1776, Roederer is a rare species in Champagne terms: an independent, family-owned, great Champagne house, currently managed by the sixth generation of the same family. For well over two centuries, the Louis Roederer name has been known the world over as a byword for fine Champagne, leading the way with the creation of the first-ever cuvée de prestige – the birth of Cristal in 1876 following a personal request from Russia’s Tsar Alexander II.
Today, this continuing devotion to consistently high quality manifests itself in the family’s ownership of 230 hectares of vineyards in the finest wine-growing areas of Champagne, including Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs.
Being able to draw upon such a wide and varied selection of vineyard plots not only gives Louis Roederer great versatility in creating its superb Champagne blends, it also makes the house self-sufficient for 100% of its vintage Champagne production, and for two-thirds of its production of Brut Premier NV (non-vintage).
It’s extremely unusual for a Champagne house to use such a high proportion of its own grapes – and it ensures that Louis Roederer can control and maintain the consistently excellent standards of its range of Champagnes, from grape right through to glass.
For more information, visit champagne-roederer.com
The story of Cristal is arguably the most compelling in the whole of Champagne. The year is 1870, and almost a century after its foundation, the house of Louis Roederer is well established, not least because of strong demand for its Champagnes from Russia.
Indeed, such is its popularity among the imperial elite of the Russian court that Tsar Alexander II gives the second Louis Roederer a special commission: he asks him to create a special, luxurious cuvée that is identifiably different to the Champagne drunk by his nobles. The result is Cristal – named after the distinctive, flat-bottomed lead-crystal bottles in which the fizz is served.
The story of Cristal might have ended with the fall of the Tsars in 1917, but Louis Roederer soon discovered growing international demand for Cristal from countries all over the world. The exclusive nature of Cristal – very limited production, the finest grapes from the best vineyards, and in the most exceptional years – means there is never quite enough to go around. But the lucky few are able to appreciate its combination of finesse and elegance, delicate bouquet and perfect balance.
Roederer’s non-vintage cuvée is a blender’s masterpiece, a painstaking combination of six vintages and more than 40 vineyard plots. Matured for a minimum of three-and-a-half years, this blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier is a refreshing yet satisfyingly deep Champagne.
By the glass: China Tang, Claridge’s, Hakkasan / Hakkasan Mayfair, HKK, MASH London, The Met Bar, Nobu Berkeley St, Novikov, One Aldwych, Royal Garden Hotel, Rhodes Twenty Four, Sake No Hana, The Westbury Hotel
Made only in the finest years, Louis Roederer Brut Vintage is an assemblage of 70% Pinot Noir – mainly from the highly prized village of Verzenay on the Montagne de Reims – and 30% Chardonnay. The wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage and, as with Brut Rosé, is aged for a minimum of four years.
The creation of a truly great rosé Champagne is not easy – you need really ripe grapes, and in Champagne’s capricious climate, that can be tricky. Champagne Louis Roederer has tackled this by investing in one of the earliest-ripening villages in the region: Cumières. This blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay also has a 20% proportion of wines aged in oak barrels with weekly batonnage (the stirring of yeast cells, or ‘lees’, in the barrel, which maximises complexity and character). Exclusively using the saignée method – which involves ‘bleeding off’ the juice following skin-contact maceration, preserving elegance and poise – 2008 Brut Rosé Vintage is aged for at least four years.
By the glass: Texture
The mirror image of Brut Premier, Carte Blanche Demi-Sec blends the three classic grapes of Champagne in the same proportions, but offers a richer, sweeter style with a higher dosage of 45g/litre. This makes it the perfect Champagne to accompany a luxurious afternoon tea, a sumptuous dessert – or with which to offer a wedding toast.
This feature was published in the spring 2013 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.