Louis Roederer is a producer of champagne based in Reims, France. Founded in 1776, it was inherited and renamed by Louis Roederer in 1833. It remains today as one of the only still independent Maison de champagne (Champagne House) and it produces the famous Champagne Cristal.
- 1 History
- 2 Production
- 3 The Wines
- 4 Acquisitions
- 5 Winemaking
- 6 Reserve wines
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Initially founded as Dubois Père & Fils in 1776, Louis Roederer inherited the company from his uncle in 1833, renamed it eponymously, and set out to target markets abroad. With concentrated efforts in several countries, including Russia. Tsar Nicholas II nominated Louis Roederer as the official wine supplier to the Imperial Court of Russia, though the Russian Revolution and the U.S. Prohibition caused financial difficulties during the early 20th century, Roederer was re-established as a leading Grandes Marques producer and remains in descendants Rouzaud ownership. Cristal is a precursor prestige cuvée brand and was made commercially available in 1945.
Louis Roederer remains one of the few family-owned independent companies run by real wine specialists. The stock ration in Louis Roederer's cellars represents between four and five years' sales.
From a vineyard area of 214 hectares (530 acres), Louis Roederer produces two thirds of the grapes needed for its production, sourcing the remaining required fruit from established farming contacts.
The vintage cuvées include the Brut Vintage, Rosé Vintage, with Pinot noir and Chardonnay in an approximately 7:3 proportion, and the 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs. The rosé is made by red wine addition rather than by saignée method. The prestige cuvée Cristal, approximately an equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot noir, is also available as a rosé, which contains more Pinot noir and is also made by addition of red wine.
The total annual production of Roederer is approximately 3.2 million bottles, of which 70–80% is Louis Roederer Brut Premier.
Brut Premier is a non-vintage Champagne combining at least four vintage wines in a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier, the three main Varietal allowed in the composition of Champagne, coming from more than fifty different crus. The inclusion of reserve wines (approximately 10%) matured in oak casks for several years gives the complexity and roundness characteristic of Louis Roederer's champagnes. It is aged for 3 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and left for 6 months after dégorgement (disgorging). By being a "Champagne Brut" this means that a Brut Premier contains less than 12g/l of residual sugar.
After blending and bottling, Brut Premier is aged at least three years, and then six months after disgorging to allow the "liqueur de dosage" to perform its work.
The Carte Blanche Cuvée is also produced from three Varietal : 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. The main difference between Brut Premier and Carte Blanche is that 5% of Carte Blanche come from wine matured in oak tuns. It is aged for 3 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and left for 6 months after dégorgement (disgorging).
In Champagne, a vintage Champagne (Champagne Millésimé in French) is a champagne composed entirely of wines of the same year. Because the champagne is usually composed of different varietal, crus and years : it is called in French "un vin d'assemblage". That is why there no year on the etiquette of a bottle of Champagne or else this means that this bottle is a vintage one.
Brut Vintage is composed of 70% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 30% Chardonnay, 30% of which is wine matured in oak tuns without malolactic fermentation. It is aged, on average, for 4 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and left for 6 months after dégorgement (disgorging) to attain perfect maturity.
Brut Rosé is composed almost like the Brut Vintage, with a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, the percentage (20%) of wine matured in oak tuns without malolactic fermentation being smaller. The Brut Rosé cuvée is aged for four years in Roederer’s cellars and left for 6 months after dégorgement (disgorging) to attain perfect maturity. His Chardonnay comes mostly from Cumières, on the Bank of the River Marne.
Blanc de Blancs
A Champagne Blanc de Blancs is a champagne that is elaborated only by white wine varietals : Chardonnay is the most commonly white varietal in Champagne but Petit Meslier, Arbanne, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are also authorised to produced champagne. But all together they only represents less than 0,3% of the entire champagne vineyard area.
The Blanc de Blancs of Louis Roederer is composed entirely of Chardonnay, coming from two grand crus in the heart of the Côte des Blancs : Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize. It is aged for five years and then six more month after the degorgement so Champagne can attaint his perfect maturity.
Cuvée de Prestige
The first Cuvée de Prestige (Prestige Cuvée) of Champagne was created in 1876 by Louis Roederer to satisfy the demanding tastes of Tsar Alexander II and is called Cristal, referring to the aspect of the bottle. In 1876, Tsar Alexander II pointed out to his sommelier that the design of a standard champagne bottle made the beautiful colour and effervescence invisible to the eye. He therefore requested of Roederer that his personal cuvée be served in bottles made of transparent crystal glass with a flat bottom (to foil the insertion of explosives in the indentation by would-be assassins), to remedy this defect. Thus was Cristal born, and the first notion of a premium cuvée. For more than a century, the appearance of the patented Cristal bottle has remained unchanged. After the fall of the Russian monarchy in 1917, the House of Louis Roederer decided to continue producing Cristal and to market it internationally. The result was a great success. Today, the limited production of Cristal is far from able to satisfy the increasing worldwide demand.
Cristal is produced uniquely during the best years, when the Chardonnay (40%) and Pinot Noir (60%) grapes have attained perfect maturity. Cristal is aged for six years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and left for a further eight months after dégorgement.
Cristal Rosé is elaborated almost with the same proportions than the Cristal : a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, comprising 20% of wine matured in oak tuns. The Rosé aspect of Cristal Rosé is produced using the saignée (bleeding) process after cold maceration. The Cristal Rosé cuvée is aged, on average, for 6 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars.
The Roederer portfolio also holds Bordeaux estates Château de Pez and Château Haut-Beausejour in Saint Estèphe. In late 2006, the Rouzaud family acquired majority share in the second-growth estate Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. The deal also included the Cru Bourgeois estate Château Bernadotte.
The 214 hectares (529 acres) of Louis Roederer's vineyards are distributed across the three main Champagne growing zones, Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Blancs. Louis Roederer's vineyards cover 2/3 of the company's needs, which is rare for a Champagne House. This situation gives Louis Roederer a greater control over its production.
Every year, about 600 people are employed to pick the grapes in the Louis Roederer vineyards. The vintage lasts for ten to fifteen days. Tractors transport the grapes in 50 kg baskets from the vineyards to Louis Roederer's own press-houses in the heart of the vineyards. The musts obtained from the pressing are then transported to Louis Roederer's cellars in Reims. Upon arrival in Reims the musts are delivered either into small stainless steel tanks or into oak vats, no bigger than the equivalent of one to two hectares of vineyards, and there they begin their fermentation. The characteristics and qualities of each plot are thus preserved right up to the blending stage. In winter, each wine will be tasted by the Cellar Master and his team of oenologists prior to blending and bottling in the Spring.
Champagne is a blend of wines from different locations. Thanks to its vineyards, Louis Roederer has a vast palette of the finest wines from which to create its "cuvées". Not all of these wines are used immediately. Some are set aside to age in large oak casks in the reserve wine cellar, at a later date they will either be included in the blends of Louis Roederer's Brut Premier champagne to ensure quality, or be used for the dosage in the "liqueur d'expédition". The reserve wines destined for the "liqueur d'expédition" are selected from the best wines from each vintage. Pinot noir and Chardonnay wines from eight to ten different crus are blended together and matured in oak vats for up to ten years. The reserve wine cellar contains several thousand litres of reserve wines.
- Kissack, Chris, thewinedoctor.com. "Roederer".
- Stevenson, Tom, Decanter (December 2007). "The Best A Man Can Get...."
- Marthinsen, Tom, Dagens Næringsliv (April 28, 2008). "Superelegant kjendis-champagne" (in Norwegian).
- Anson, Jane & Lechmere, Adam, Decanter.com (November 1, 2006). "Roederer takes over Pichon".
- Frank, M., Wine Spectator (December 31, 2006). "Champagne House Takes Over Pichon-Lalande". p. 15.
Media related to Louis Roederer at Wikimedia Commons
- Louis Roederer official site (English)