Cellar master Jean-Baptiste B Lecaillon of Champagne Louis Roederer presented the a range of Champagnes from this Grande Marque Champagne House. He talked to us of the effect of the warming up of the climate and the positive effect it has had so far on the cold, northerly Champagne climate.
CHAMPAGNE – a few interesting facts
There are only three cepages authorised; Pinot Meunier and the nobler Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Most of the vineyards of Champagne are planted with red grape varieties (71,5% – with 38,3% Pinot Noir and 33,2% Pinot Meunier)
Chardonnay makes up the remaining 28,2 % of vineyards planted.
Annual average temperature is only 10,3 C (trend is rising to 12C due to global warming with warmer winters rather than hotter summers
Non-vintage champagne must be kept for 15 months ‘sur lattes’ (with autolysis of the dead yeast cells enrichening the champagne and adding complexity)
Vintage champagne has a minimum of 3 years ‘sur lies’.
There are 15,000 growers and 200 wine merchants (who are responsable for 66% of champagne sales and 90% of exports).
338 million € sold in 2007 at the average price of 13,46€.
All grapes for champagne are harvested manually.
Price per kg of grapes is 5€ and you need 1.2 kg grapes to make a bottle of champagne so for a 13€ HT.
Each bottle of champagne it costs you 7€ for your raw materials before you have even begun!
Stocks represent 1,046 million bottles (for every bottle sold, there are 3,5 in store)
The domestic market is still the largest and represents 55% (188 million € but is decreasing). Average price per bottle depart 11,90€
Export market represents 45% (151 million € and is increasing). Average price per bottle depart 14,91€.
15 countries represent 85% export market
UK is the biggest export market for champagne (32% and growing)
2008 will see the region of Champagne’s third ‘delimitation’ of the Appellation (1st in 1908, 2nd in 1927). Currently the region has 34,000 hectares under vine. Bordeaux is approximately 121,000 hectares which has doubled in size since 1980.
Dom Perignon arrived in Hautvillers in 1669 when the wine of Champagne was famous but as a still wine based on Pinot Noir grape predominantly. It was the wine of celebration used at royal banquets (898 to 1825) all French kings since the first King, Clovis, were crowned at Reims cathedral) and also some papal celebrations (French Pope came from this region).
Dom Perignon is said to have first discovered refermentation in bottle by accident
1685 first cork was used in Champagne which provided the means to trap the bubbles in the bottle
1. Champagne Louis Roederer Brut, Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay made up of only two villages Mesnil sur Oger and Avise. There are fewer bubbles (pressure of only 4 kg) in this cuvee to keep the roundness and softness of this 100% Chardonnay. A lot of bubbles gives an impression of agressivity which is not suited to this wine’s style.No malolactic fermentation to keep the fresh acidity. Dosage is 9 to 10 g of sucre/litre.
Light and elegant with plenty of both minerally (from the chalk soils) and fruity characteristics. Nose of fresh nuts and citrus fruits. Concentration of ripe fruit gives balance to its acidic vivacity. ‘Legerete’ is the key word.
2. Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Millesime 2002
2002 was a hot year in Champagne and produced good quality Champagnes. ‘Puissance’ is the key word with this champagen. 40% of the vine is vinified in wood. Pinot noir and Pinot Mernier are easily pressed in a vertical press. Chardonnay is more difficult due to its thiker skins so a pneumatic press is used.
Powerful spicy nose with toast and brioche. Caramel notes. Good wine for gastronomy and esprecially deserts.
More bubbles with this cuvee based predominantly on Pinot Noir (with only 30% Chardonnay). Grapes from four villages make up this wine.
3. Champagne Louis Roederer Rose Millesime 2002
70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay make up this very, very pale rose wine. Strawberries and cherries on the nose. Very elegant rounded wine with high acidity and soft bubbles. Key word is “richesse”. Delicious.
4. Champagne Louis Roederer, Cristal Brut 2002
Cristal is only made in the best years and lasts for 15-20 years. Approximately a third Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. This represents the best grapes from the best terroir. This wine was developed for the Tzar Alexander II in 1876 and has a clear white bottle. This 2002 vintage is very young and just released. The 1988 vintage is drinking well at the moment.
Fragrant nose and refined balance with high acidity and an etremely persistent finish. Dosage 10g/l sugar. Key word “expensive” at approximately 200€ per bottle.
5. Champagne Louis Roederer, Brut Premier NV
This wine represents 70% of all Louis Roederrer production. It is made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. It is made up of grapes from 40 different villages across the different regions and at least 5 different vintages. This is a non-vintage champagne and a maximum of 40% from the most recent vintage – the base year. This not indicated on the label. This enables the wine makers to maintain a consistent house style whatever the year of production. This champagne can be aged and is best consumed within 3-5 years of release.
Fresh yeasty fruity with elegance and finesse. Louis Roederrer look to produce powerful vintage wines but focus on finesse or their non-vintage champagnes. Many other Champagne Houses do the opposite.
6. Champagne Louis Roederer, Millesime 1993
This is a collection champagne from Louis Roederer’s own stocks. Honey, melon and truffle flavours on this matured champagne which in the mouth is round and unctuous. This oxidative style is an acquired taste, but is sought after by some Grandes Marques Champagne Houses, such as Bollinger.