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 and family-run maisons de champagne (Champagne house). Over 3.5 million bottles of Louis Roederer champagne are shipped each year to more than 100 countries.
- 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 German 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 240 hectares (590 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 Vintage, Rosé Vintage, with Pinot noir and Chardonnay in an approximately 7:3 proportion, and the 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs. The prestige cuvée Cristal, is a blend of around 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot noir. This prestige cuvée is also available as a rosé, which contains around 55% Pinot noir and 45% Chardonnay. Both Rosé Vintage and Cristal Rosé wines are made using the saignée method.
The total annual production of Roederer is approximately 3.5 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% Meunier, the three main grape varieties allowed in the composition of Champagne, coming from more than fifty different crus. The inclusion of reserve wines (approximately 20%) 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). The dosage (residual sugar) is 9g/l.
The Carte Blanche Cuvée is also produced from three Varietal : 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% 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. The specifity of Louis Roederer's vintage wines is that they are exclusively elaborated from Louis Roederer's vineyards.
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.
Produced using the saignée (skin contact) process after cold maceration, the Rosé Vintage is a blend of around 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, the percentage (20%) of wine matured in oak tuns without malolactic fermentation being smaller. The Rosé Vintage cuvée is aged for 4 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 Vintage
Blanc de Blancs Vintage is composed of 100% Chardonnay and essentially produced in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, in the kingdom of two exceptional Grands Crus : Cramant and Avize. The Chardonnay from these vineyards has an incredible subtlety. It is aged for 5 years and then 6 more month after disgorging ( degorgement) to attain 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 6 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and left for a further 8 months after disgorging (dégorgement).
In 1974—almost 100 years after the establishment of the Champagne House of Louis Roederer and 100 years after the creation of Cristal—Jean-Claude Rouzaud decided to create the Cristal Rosé Cuvée. To achieve this, he selected old-vine Pinot noir grapes from the finest Grand Cru vineyards at Aÿ, which are now cultivated according to biodynamic principles. The unique calcareous soil, which gives the grapes an exquisite minerality, enables the vines (in the best years) to attain exceptional fruit maturity complemented by a crystalline acidity.
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 (skin contact) process after cold maceration. The Cristal Rosé cuvée is aged, on average, for 6 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and left for a minimum of 8 months after disgorging (dégorgement) to attain the perfect harmony.
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 240 hectares of Louis Roederer's vineyards are distributed across the three main Champagne growing zones, the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Blancs. Louis Roederer's vineyards cover two thirds of the company's needs, which is rare for a Champagne House. This situation gives Louis Roederer a greater control over its production. Seventy five hectares are cultivated according to biodynamic principles, which makes it the largest biodynamic estate in the Champagne region.
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.
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- Louis Roederer official site (English)