From an outstanding vintage, this is incredibly youthful, fresh and well-balanced: one of the best
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Established in 1776, Louis Roederer is one of the last great independent family-run Champagne Houses. Today it is run by Frédéric Rousaud, CEO who is the seventh generation of the Roederer family. His right hand-man, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon the Chef de Cave has been creating stunning wines at Roederer since 1999. As a winemaker, Jean-Baptiste is very proud of his craft and declares that at Roederer "we don't blend we combine" and says "I love art, and like a great painter we add colour rather than blending it".
Being in the enviable position of owning the majority of their own vineyards, they are able to experiment as well as supply 70 percent of the grapes to produce non-vintage wines and 100 percent of the vintage wines, which is very rare in Champagne today. The experimentation has led them to create and manage some biodynamic vineyards for nearly ten years. Although they are not looking to get certification, the resulting wines have produced some amazing flavours and created some wonderful additions to the resultant blends.
From the beginning Louis Roederer wanted to create the best Champagne he could and felt that the way to do that was to own his vineyards, and not, like most other Houses, buy in grapes from growers. This strategy led him to acquire some of the finest land in the region and today it amounts to some 240 hectares of Grand and Premier Cru Vineyards in the Marne. This belief that great wine depends on the quality of the soil is still part of their philosophy today.
Each small parcel is hand-picked and pressed on the harvest site then vinified separately so as to keep the true character intact. Each of the lots is then tasted several times until blending, when they are chosen for their unique characters to create the perfect Roederer style.
In the 1870s, Louis Roederer began exporting his wines to the USA and Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The Tsar was a suspicious man and believed his enemies might try to tamper with his beloved Champagne to get rid of him. He thought that the traditional Champagne bottle with the punt at the bottom could perhaps conceal a bomb and the glass being so dark could camouflage the addition of poison. So in 1876, the very first Prestige Cuvée Champagne was created exclusively for the Tsar and the iconic Cristal was born. Placed in an iconic bottle with a flat base made from clear crystal, the Tsar was happy that bombs and poison would not come between him and the enjoyment of his favourite tipple.
Cristal is now not just for the Tsar of Russia but little has changed in terms of how it is produced. Jean-Baptiste only creates Cristal from the finest vintages and therefore it is not created every year and when it is, production is tiny. The blend is usually 55 per cent Pinot Noir and 45 per cent Chardonnay from only the best rated sites of Champagne Louis Roederer's vineyards. Cristal is released after six years ageing in the Reims cellars and is the benchmark for luxury champagnes.
For everyday drinking the Louis Roederer Brut Premier is produced with the same care and attention to detail. The style is created from eight different harvests, utilizing all three Champagne grape varieties from more than 40 different plots. The final blend is matured for three years in the cellar and rested for six months after disgorgement to perfect maturity.