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From the words of Prince Saline, Louis Roederer Champagne believes that “For everything to stay the same, everything must change”. The family’s quest for elegance, purity and harmony for their champagnes has remained the same for seven generations. However, Louis Roederer’s audacious vision adapts with the times so that it can continue to strive for perfection for their inimitable champagne masterpieces.
The independently, family-run Louis Roederer Champagne House and the birth of their grand champagnes had their beginnings in 1776 in Reims. From the start and through each family generation, the House has forged champagnes of a truly unique personality and style that have captured the attention of not only royalty, but of champagne lovers from around the world. This was possible because of the vision Louis Roederer brought to Champagne House once he inherited it in 1833. Unlike other Houses, he did not want to buy grapes from other vineyards to make his champagnes, but instead he desired to nurture the terroir of his own parcels to bring out the finest expressions of each of them. He believed that his champagnes would be different based on his guiding principle that great champagne depends on terroir, tradition and vision. Soon after in the 1870s, Louis Roederer Champagne could be found all over the world, especially in the United States and Russia. Tsar Alexander II had a profound love for this exceptional champagne led to the creation of the House’s very first Cuvée de Prestige in 1876. For this champagne, Roederer had a master glassmaker fashion the capsule in a flat-bottomed, transparent crystal bottle, and then named it “Cristal” to reflect the precious, luminous material. As Louis Roederer Champagne roared through the 1920s, Léon Olry-Roederer, the future heir, started the groundwork for the House’s renowned Brut Premier. He focused his efforts on creating a blend of several vintages to make a highly balanced and consistent wine that would always offer the highest quality. After his death in 1933, his widow Camille took over the House and gave new meaning to the joys of champagne through her receptions at the family’s Hôtel Particulier in Reims. Her enlightened, dynamic approach to running the House opened up an entire generation of Louis Roederer Champagne lovers. Since 2006, Frédéric Rouzaud, who represents the family’ seventh generation, has managed the House with the same unshakeable commitment to terroir, tradition and vision.
The purity and elegance of the champagnes from the House of Louis Roederer come from the most perfect terroirs that extend over 240 hectares that include the Grands and Premiers Crus from Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs, and the Vallée de la Marne. Louis Roederer’s quest for perfection starts with the 410 vineyard parcels on which the House grows the three traditional varieties that provide the rich palates for their champagnes. Chardonnay gives elegance, finesse and a mineral character, Pinot Noir brings structure to the blends and helps them to age, and Pinot Meunier adds softness and harmony. Those who tend to the vines do it with meticulous care and with respect for biodiversity, and this allows for “tailor-made” viticulture so that the berries can reach their perfect ripeness. This profound connection to the land has the wine growers return year after year to care for their parcels, and this type of devotion to terroir is what differentiates Louis Roederer from all the other champagne houses.
This devotion then carries itself into the winery where the berries from each of the 410 parcels go through an extremely delicate pressing so as to preserve the clarity and golden intensity of the juice. Each of these parcels is pressed and vinified separately to guarantee their traceability and to bring out their purest expression of the terroir. Fermentation takes places in over 450 small stainless steel tanks, each with one single vineyard parcel. It is during this time that the oenologists nurture the aromas, flavours and characters to bring out their richness and complexity. Once they come into their own unique personality, the Cellar Master and oenologists have a vibrant palette of the finest wines to blend them into perfectly balanced Louis Roederer champagnes. These creations then undergo a second fermentation in cool, dark cellars. It is here where they rest for three to six weeks so that they can transform into dazzling champagnes. Daily riddling, however, interrupts the quietness of the cellars so that the deposits settle in bottlenecks. A crystal clear, shimmering champagne reveals itself after the deposits are removed. The final touch of the liqueur d’expédition is then added to imprint the House’s signature style on the champagne to make it instantly recognizable for its pure fruit and elegant style.
For over two centuries, Louis Roederer Champagne had aimed for perfection for their cuvées that include vintage, multi-vintage and Cristal champagnes – each one a perfectly balanced, elegant tribute to its terroir. To create its Cuvée Vintages, Louis Roederer uses the backbone and aromatic influence to make a signature blend consisting of about 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay that come from Montagne de Reims. This palate offers a generous and dense attack that is perfectly balanced between sweetness and acidity. Candied fruit, almond paste and toasty notes unveil a sublime tasting experience. The Rosé Vintages come from the sunny slopes of Cumières to give a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. The rich, full-bodied vintage is a tribute to the impeccable ripeness of the fruit, which reveal wild berry, floral and zesty aromas along with notes of dried fruit and cocoa. The vintage line is not complete without the Blanc de Blanc Vintages from the Grand Crus Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize in the Côte de Blancs. The chalky minerality of the terroir shines through in this 100% Chardonnay to give a taut, bright wine. The intense acidity contrasts with the hazelnut and almond notes, and with the delicate white flower hints of acacia and honeysuckle. The multi-vintages also appear in the Louis Roederer Champagne collection to ensure that there is always a consistent flavour each harvest year. The House achieves this through the Brut Premier that is a blend of about 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier from various crus. This fine classic offers a contemporary taste of lively elegance. It is a balance of contrasts between youthfulness and maturity that reveals a full-bodied, complex wine.
The piece de resistance of the Louis Roederer Champagne collection is the wine created to quench the thirst of Tsar Alexander II, the purely pleasurable Cristal that is produced only in the very best of years. The most recent release is the Cristal 2008 vintage. From the prestigious Grand Cru vineyards of Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs, it is a blend of about 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir. The Cristal 2008 had eight years of bottle ageing, and then it was laid to rest for eight months after disgorgement before it received an 8g/l dosage. Green and orange hues flicker around the amber-coloured core through which the finest of bubbles stream through to give it a lively sparkle. It is a masterpiece of balance and refinement with a sublime mineral quality and notes of candied citrus, yellow fruit, pear and toasted almond. The attack is powerful with an intense saline concentration coming from the chalk soils. A silky texture coats the entire palate that extends to an unparalleled fresh, saline finish. The Cristal 2008 is a champagne for pure pleasure. It is essentially the quintessential representation of what a champagne should strive to be.
Louis Roederer Champagne has stood the test of time for over two centuries. The effervescence whooshes of their cuvées shimmer in flutes that bring nothing but pure pleasure and a sparkle in the eyes of wine lovers all around the world.