Friday, January 29, 2016

It's Always Time for Champagne ...


While the last post for the Manresa Journal focused on bubbly for the holiday celebrations, there is no question that quality Champagne should not be reserved for celebrations exclusively, but should be enjoyed as often as possible, so I thought we would double-up on one of the best wine styles in the market.  While we looked at one of the top grower-producers in Champagne last time, I thought it would be interesting to look at one of the major players in the Champagne grandes marques, Louis Roederer.

This past year Louis Roederer introduced its first new Champagne to the market since the introduction of Cristal Rosé in 1974, a Brut Nature that features a label designed by the famous French designer Philippe Starck. Starck did not just design the package, but was involved in the conception of the cuvée and the blend as well. With this wine, chef de cave Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon and Starck wanted to create a “modern” Champagne. With an outlook toward the future, and this idea nicely dovetailed with some experimentation that Lécaillon had been performing in the vineyards and cellars since 2000, as the winery began to consider the impact global warming was going to have on the winegrowing of Champagne. The team at Roederer decided to work with a single vineyard in Cumières that tended to handle hotter vintages well, and began to produce wines from this vineyard in ways that were not traditional to this venerable Champagne house. It was these experiments that Lécaillon and Starck turned to as they looked to produce something together. The much riper grapes produced in the warm vintage of 2006 produced a wine that was very suitable to bottling with no dosage, the sugar added after disgorging that typically brings a high-acid wine like Champagne into balance. Normally, a Brut Nature Champagne can be very acidic and austere, but the ripeness and roundness of the vintage and vineyard site have made a Champagne of great texture and elegance, the Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006. —Jim Rollston, Wine Director