It’s 14 Juillet and we are back in Bordeaux again. But today we celebrate the French national day. But let’s do it with a glass of great Champagne.
LOUIS ROEDERER did not get its present name until 1833, but was in existence as far back as 1760 under the name of Dubois Père & Fils. Louis Roederer was a hardworking man who succeeded in selling his Champagne in several important export markets. Roederer’s real ace was, as with Clicquot, the Russian market. Tsar Alexander II wanted a more impressive label to show his guests, and in 1876 he made a special order for the first transparent Cristal bottles, which at that time actually were made of genuine crystal. The wine was stunningly sweet and gave Roederer had some problems with disposal after the Russian revolution, when the firm was stuck with unpaid invoices and stores full of sweet Champagne that no one else wanted.
The company recovered in the 1930s, when Camille Olry-Roederer took the helm. She invested the money earned from sales in some exceptional vineyards: in Aÿ, Hautvillers, Cumières, Louvois, Verzy, Verzenay, Vertus, Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, and Le Mesnil. Roederer also owns several well-respected vineyards in other locations: Roederer Estate, Ramos Pinto, Haut-Beauséjour and Château de Pez.
Today the firm is the most financially successful in the region, thanks largely to these vineyards, which supply Roederer with some 70 percent of its grapes. The house is now run by Frédéric Rouzaud who works according to the same principles as those applied in past decades. Winemaker is the increadible Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon. All the wines ferment separately, cru by cru, in small steel vats or small barrells, while the reserve wines are stored in large oak barrels. This is said to give the company its special “vanilla touch.” I’m not alone in wondering if certain wines for the prestige variety Cristal aren’t stored in these barrels, as it is precisely in Cristal that one can sometimes discover a nutty, oily, and vanilla-tasting barrel-like character. Another explanation for this toffee-like note of maturity could be that they use a large portion of the best, older, oak-barrel-stored reserve wines in the dosage. Apart from this, up to 20 percent of the oak-aged reserve wine is used in the nonvintage Champagne Brut Premier. Roederer has no set recipe regarding malolactic fermentation the personal qualities of the wine differ from case to case. Roederer is without doubt a brilliant Champagne house with an exceptional portfolio of wines.
The nonvintage Champagne is brilliant. The rosé and Blanc de Blancs offer an aristocratic elegance typical of the house, and the vintage wine is always among the best. Cristal is today the most sought-after cuvée de prestige, and has perhaps the most appetizing appearance of any wine in the world. Cristal Rosé is not only the most expensive rosé Champagne—it is obviously the best. In my opinion, this house is one of the four best in all of Champagne. Every vintage is stunning. Buy all the Roederer wines you come across!
LOUIS ROEDERER ‘CRISTAL ROSÉ’ 2002 / Reims / Champagne / France / Louis Roederer / 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay / RJPOINTS 96(97) points
TASTING NOTE ‘Peel contact from very old Pinot vines at Aÿ! Apart from this leading village one notices Cumières, Verzy and Verzenay as well as Chardonnay from Le Mesnil, Oger and Avize. The dosage with 11 grammes of sugar is stored in oak barrels as usual. I am immediately utterly lyrical! This wine asserted itself well with its exemplary, mid summer, positive attitude to life.’
In the speakers? Camille ‘Allez, Allez’.