Louis Roederer Collection 242 NV
Louis Roederer Replaces Brut Premier & Launches Collection 242 NV, the new cuvée named because this 2017 base is the 242nd time Champagne Louis Roederer have made a non-vintage since they were founded in 1776. Louis Roederer Brut Premier was introduced in 1986 and from September 2021 the future is Louis Roederer Collection 242 NV and it is much more than new branding! The project “Collection 242” started in the spring of 2013 when Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Cellar Master, took the first steps by putting some wines aside for this new project and now eight years later we see the results.
“The Collection number, represents the number of blends since the foundation
of Champagne Louis Roederer Champagne in 1776″
“The times we live in, climate change, the importance of practicing a sustainable viticulture that respects the living environment are all factors that we wanted to take into account. These are what have given us the impetus to take the quality of our blends to the next level, allowing ourselves to take a bold and uninhibited approach.” Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Cellar Master and Executive Vice President, Louis Roederer.
Sustainable Agriculture & Phoenolic Ripeness
On a visit to Champagne Louis Roederer (CLR) in July 2021, Lécaillon took us on a walk through the winery and cellars, taking his time to explain carefully and very precisely the background to the Collection 242 project. He started by painting the background picture to why CLR have spent the last 20 years farming sustainably, following both organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard. Lecaillon explains “In 1898, 1899 and 1900 all three vintages had a potential alcohol of 11.7, but they didn’t pick, because the grapes were not pheonolically ripe. At the time colour was also used as an important ripeness indicator and they waited for the colour to come right, indicating full phoenolic ripeness.” From the 1950’s artificial fertilizer and herbicides were rapidly growing in their use and by the 1980’s these were interfering with the natural ripening of the grapes. Lécaillon continued “8 out of 10 harvests in the 1980’s were difficult, the use of high nitrogen input was pushing yields high, disease became more difficult to control and ultimately getting phoenolic ripeness became a real problem.”
The real epiphany however, was the 1996 vintage. “We should have made outstanding wine but made very good wine… [which was] the same for all winemaking regions,” Lécaillon recalled. This period of awakening really kickstarted the viticulture revolution which Louis Roederer spearhead in Champagne today. First came the organic wave and the widespread reduction of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers, followed by a surge in biodynamic farming, which incorporates ideas about a vineyard as an entire ecosystem.
In 2000 CLR cut out all synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and started farming sustainably, a practice that typically sees yields drop 15-20%, but once your vines have adjusted they are stronger, deeper rooted and more resilient to some of the disease threats. “Today,” Lécaillon explains “we are not chasing yields, we are chasing freshness, our new challenge.”
“The future will be organic and biodynamic” Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon
All vintage champagnes from Roederer are from grapes grown on their own Estates, with 244 hectares they are the 4th largest vineyard owner in the region. For the new Collection CLR has taken plot selection even further, with a focus on encouraging all its growers to embrace sustainable farming. They have selected the vineyard plots that are perfectly suited to the identity of the new wine and the most appropriate for the year’s specific blend. Each bunch of grapes that goes into Collection is carefully selected in the vineyards, the time of harvesting a Roederer decision, in order to retain only excellence in the blend. All wines are kept separate in the winery, some 1000+ fermentation tanks allow Lécaillon and his team to keep vineyard lots separate.
Perpetual Reserve – 50% Chardonnay & 50% Pinot Noir – 34% of Collection 242 blend
The creation of Collection is influenced by the introduction of a “Perpetual Reserve”, which began with the 2012 vintage and has been enriched each year with wines from the latest harvest stored in large capacity oxygen-free stainless-steel vats. Having tasted the perpetual reserve it was clear this is “the refreshing element” for the blends, it has incredible density of fruit, is super chalky with a saline profile; no doubt about it, this is super refreshing! Lécaillon mentions “When picking the wines for the perpetual reserve I am looking for minerality and freshness, these characteristics tend to come from grapes on the hillsides, the soils are thinner and the vines are soon into chalk” . At present the perpetual reserve contains wines from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and will be further enriched with new wines from each new harvest to create a template of complexity, freshness and energy. It is anticipated each collection will contain about one third of this reserve.
“When picking the wines for the perpetual reserve I am looking for minerality and freshness”
What is a Base Vintage & How Frequently Are Non-Vintages Champagnes Made
Each spring all champagne Houses blend their most important champagne, their Non-Vintage and the blend is based on the majority of wines from the previous harvest, depending on the House, varying levels of reserve wines are added to the blend allowing the House to keep their NV within certain style boundaries. It is worth noting, that with each NV blend, it is not the same as previous years, it will be similar, but in a way the NV will reflect to some degree the dominant vintage at the core of its blend. In simple terms a “base vintage” is the dominant year in a NV blend.
Collection 242 Base Vintage 2017 – 56% of Collection 242 Blend
The base vintage for Collection 242 is 2017, a tremendously difficult year in the vineyards! An exceptionally warm and dry winter and spring, but the latter brought severe frosts from 17 to 29 April, setting the horrible record for 12 nights of frost. These were followed by a dull, wet and not particularly hot summer, which ended in an almost tropical (hot and humid) spell at the end of August. This sudden change led to a significant increase in grey rot on the ripening Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes. The harvest was fast paced and completed very quickly demanding precise and methodical selection work, of an unprecedented level even for CLR. The harvest took place from the 31st August to the 9th September 2017. Since no Cristal or Vintage was made in 2017 then the best of those estate wines make up part of the Collection 242 base vintage.
Oak Aged Reserve Wines – 10% of Collection 242 Blend
During the same time as the Perpetual Reserve was being established CLR also increased the proportion of oak-aged reserve wines. These wines from previous harvest and young plots on the Cristal estate, aged in large French oak vats (foudres), were a core component of Brut Premier and will be more so in Collection 242. They provide a point of balance with the freshness created by the Perpetual Reserve, giving the wine greater intensity and honing its salinity. Having tasted many of these reserve wines, I would describe them similar to a spice in cooking; you don’t need too much for their impact to be felt. The oak aged reserve wines are from vintage 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Grape Blend in Collection 242
42% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot noir and 22% Meunier
The Collection 242 blend is dominated by Chardonnay which was of exceptional quality in the 2017 vintage. The perfectly ripe Chardonnay grapes show those yellow fruits with tropical notes combined by subtle oaky spice notes. The Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes from the Vallée de la Marne add broadness to the palate, smooth and quite a juicy character. The perpetual reserve brings in some freshness and minerality and the oak aged reserve wines add some depth and completity.
Technicals Collection 242
Malolactic Fermentation: 34%
Vegan & Vegetarian Friendly
All Louis Roederer Champagnes are suitable for those following Vegan and or Vegetarian life styles – the champagnes are fined with organic pea protein.
“Each Collection is a change of year, a new chapter.
Always unique, yet always decidedly Roederer”
Each Collection Blend will be Unique
Each Collection blend will have its own identity, gradually revealed over time. Collection 242 is crafted from 34% Perpetual Reserve, 10% oak-aged reserve wines from the 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages, complemented by 56% of the finest wines from the 2017 harvest.
What The Critics Are Saying:
|92/100 Antonio Galloni Vinous.com|
|The NV Collection 242 is a new wine from Roederer that replaces the Brut Premier in the range. The Collection (which now will be numbered by harvest) is a blend of three components: a perpetual reserve done in the classic non-malo Roederer style, reserve wines in oak with a touch of malo, and a base vintage, in this case 2017. That blend results in a NV Champagne that offers lovely richness and resonance, with plenty of yellow orchard fruit and floral character. Whereas Brut Premier was typically a focused, nervy wine that, while consistently excellent, also was not always in line with the Roederer house style, the 242 tastes more like a Roederer Champagne in terms of its complexity. Incidentally, there is no Vintage, Cristal or Cristal Rosé in 2017, so all the best lots went into this bottling. Dosage is 8 grams per liter, so lower than the 9 or so that was typical for recent Brut Premier and much lower than the 12-13 that was once customary. The 242 was also bottled with a bit less sugar than the norm, which results in lower atmospheres of pressure in the bottle and silkier texture.
“Brut Premier was created in the late 1970s and 1980s, when we struggled to ripen,” Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon explained. “It was our way of compensating for lack of ripeness in the field and the variability of quality across vintages. Because of climate change, achieving ripeness is not an issue today. Instead, our challenge is maintaining freshness and precision. For that reason, we decided to re-think our NV and start from a place of positive rather than negative selection.”
|17/20 Jancis Robinson MW JancisRobinson.com|
|New substitute for Brut Premier NV taking its name from Roederer’s 242nd harvest with this debut bottling based on 2017 but containing 10% reserve wines aged in oak from 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 plus 34% wine from a perpetual reserve (sort of solera) that has been built up since 2012, for 242 made up of equal parts from every vintage from 2012 to 2016 inclusive. The packaging is extremely similar to that of Brut Premier. Scannable QR code on the back label for more information. Roederer’s notes: ‘2017, the base vintage for Collection 242, was a year of living dangerously! An exceptionally warm and dry winter and spring, but the latter brought severe frosts from 17 to 29 April, setting the sorry record for 12 nights of frost. These were followed by a dull, wet and not particularly hot summer, which ended in an almost tropical (hot and humid) spell at the end of August. This sudden change led to a significant increase in grey rot on the ripening Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. The harvest was fast-paced and completed very quickly, demanding precise and methodical selection work, of an unprecedented level even for Roederer. The harvest took place from 31 August to 9 September 2017. A third each from the Vallée de la Marne, the Côte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. 42% Chardonnay (the most successful variety in 2017), 36% Pinot Noir, 22% Pinot Meunier. Only 34% went through malo.’ Dosage is 8 g/l (whereas Brut Premier used to be 9 g/l).
“Deep straw colour and tiny, tiny bead. Really satisfying, complete, beautifully balanced nose with some evolution and richness. A little bit of toastiness and it tastes pretty ripe. Very different indeed from a Brut Zéro champagne! Firm. Some tasters may object to the dosage. But it’s a beautiful wine.”
Technical differences between Brut Premier NV and Collection
Collection 241 1.5L
Collection 242 75cl
|% Reserve Styles||6% oak & 19% steel||17% oak, 34% Perpetual Reserve||10% oak, 34% Perpetual Reserve|
|Total Reserve Wines||25%||51%||44%|
New Mobile App
The app has been overhauled and provides easy access to lots more information.
New Packaging Collection 242
The boxes are 100% recyclable and crafted from FSC-certified paper, highlight the Louis Roederer visuals, inspired by Nature.
Committed to sustainable growing practices for 20+ years, in March 2021, Champagne Louis Roederer was awarded the French “AB” organic agriculture certification for 115 hectares of its historic vineyards.
Farming certification: HVE Level 3 certified
High Environmental Value certification to the highest level for sustainability
Sustainability Awards: Robert Parker Green Emblem 2021
Louis Roederer Stretches Beyond Champagne
Founded in 1776 in Reims, Louis Roederer is an independent family-run champagne house headed by Frédéric Rouzaud. In addition to producing Louis Roederer and Cristal champagnes, Louis Roederer also owns Deutz champagne, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (Grand cru classé de Pauillac), Château de Pez (Saint-Estèphe) and Maison Descaves in Bordeaux; Domaines Ott in Provence, Delas Frères in the Rhône valley, Porto Ramos Pinto in Portugal and, in California, Roederer Estate, Scharffenberger Cellars, Domaine Anderson, Merry Edwards Winery and Diamond Creek Vineyards.