Late afternoon we checked-in at the magnificent hotel in Reims L’Assiette Champenoise (Now 3 stars in Guide Michelin). Round 6p.m. the bus left for unbeatable Champagne Louis Roederer. first we had a visit at the cellars at 74, rue de Savoye followed by a splendid world unique Cristal vinothèque dinner served at the Golden room in Louis Roederer private mansion with the winemaker, the charming Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon.
RJ ON LOUIS RODERER 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.’
RJ ON CRISTAL 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 ‘Brut Premier’ mgm (09 base) │62PN8PM30PM│TASTING NOTE ‘Invariably praised, nonvintage Champagne with a high proportion of reserve wines that had been stored in big oak barrels. Four years in the bottle before disgorging only the first pressing is used. For several years, an appley, storable, and decently good nonvintage Champagne. Today, a Cristal-like Champagne with outstanding finesse. Fantastic in magnum.’ RJ 84(91)
2006 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal’│60PN40CH│TASTING NOTE ‘Just fantastic from the start. A colossal power and beautiful rumbling pinot maturity. It’s like chewing on the ripest grapes from Aÿ and Verzenay. At the same time ultra stylish down all the unmistakable cristal essence, peach and mango sweetness, pineapple coconut, vanilla and unreal sprightly acidity and citrus flowery. Many similarities with 2002, but with a clearer pinot touch.’ RJ 95(97)
2005 Louis Roederer’ Cristal’│55PN45CH│TASTING NOTE ‘Drier and tighter, yet greater than the exotic vintage 2004. Promising tones that will be nutty with time. One of the vintage’s treats of course.’ RJ 93(96)
2004 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal’│55PN45CH│TASTING NOTE ‘An unusually unpredictable vintage. Very shy in the current state, despite that the faint tones are of the more open kind. Evolves more and more and already feels classic. Drank a fantastic bottle in Thailand that presented the same exotic aroma spectrum as the surroundings. Shang-ri-La!’ RJ 96(97)
2000 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal Oenothèque’│55PN45CH│TASTING NOTE ‘Seductively mellow and replete with honey toffee as always, and wrapped around with silkiness. The fantastic thing is that the fruitiness is very young and bursting with energy, with tones of spring flowers, gooseberries and red currants along with sweet pineapple, paw-paw and mango. Phenomenally “Cristally” and delightfully sensual. That was how differently I apprehended this wine on that first occasion. Now it is already in the same lacklustre phase as 2000 Dom Pérignon.’ RJ 92(93)
2002 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal Oenothèque’ mgm│55PN45CH│TASTING NOTE ‘A slowly evolving magnum that probably should be decanted. I respect however to fully Jean-Baptiste’s fear of losing mousse and choice to open the bottle two hours in advance. Today we know that five hours had been perfect. Initially closed nose with reductive, almost rubbery roast aroma. Glued and tighter fruit than in regular bottling. Incredibly beautiful at the end.’ RJ 95(97)
2005 Louis Roederer ‘Blanc de Blancs’│100CH│TASTING NOTE ‘I’m not entirely sure that the freshness is sufficient to keep the elegance maintained intact in storage. A pretty bold and concentrated edition of this beautiful wine.’ RJ 91(93)
2000 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal Oenothèque – Family Collection’│dég. 2010│55PN45CH│TASTING NOTE ‘Seductively mellow and replete with honey toffee as always, and wrapped around with silkiness. The fantastic thing is that the fruitiness is very young and bursting with energy, with tones of spring flowers, gooseberries and red currants along with sweet pineapple, paw-paw and mango. Phenomenally “Cristally” and delightfully sensual. That was how differently I apprehended this wine on that first occasion. Now it is already in the same lacklustre phase as 2000 Dom Pérignon.’ RJ 92(93)
1993 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal Oenothèque’│dég. 2004│55PN45CH│TASTING NOTE ‘A very light and caressingly shy bottle that keeps her youthful style in Vinotheéque edition. Some bottles begin to oxidize. Last time wonderfully tasty.’ RJ 94(94)
2006 Louis Roederer ‘Cristal Rosé’│60PN40CH│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. An incomparably beautiful Champagne of brilliant attributes—the wine literally radiates aristocratic elegance and seductive charm. The colour borders on white Champagne and the nose has the same unsurpassed complexity as earlier vintages of this magnificent creation. I am immediately utterly lyrical! ‘ RJ 96(97)
1995 Louis Roederer ‘Rosé Oenothèque’│70PN30CH│TASTING NOTE ‘I have no idea how many times I have been amazed by a new release from Roederer. This is surely one of the vintage’s foremost Champagnes. How one can accomplish such a treacly and butter-toffee-soft wine as intensely fruity-fresh as this is beyond my comprehension. I hardly dare to imagine what Roederer’s other ’95s are like.’ RJ 94(95)
15 champagne lovers | 12 champagnes | 8 vintages | 120 glasses | 4 dishes