We were slightly surprised at this...
Louis Roederer's best-selling and class-leading Brut Reserve is no more. The decision to replace it with a multi-vintage blend was met with something of a mixture of surprise, enthusiasm, scepticism, hope and disappointment. A funny blend in its own right...
The quality is simply spectacular: if you like Champagne at all, get into this. It is a seriously accomplished wine that, on its fist release, rivals some of the best-known vintage wines in the market.
Complexity, finesse, body and layers of delicious flavours mark this as a significant cut above the Brut that it has replaced. Ripe apple, pear, plum and ever-so subtle notes of spice and orange peel are supported by an acidic backbone that demands one of two things: food, or a second glass.
What is it?
Now in its second ‘vintage’ number bottling, this is a Champagne made from three parts: the best of the most recent vintage (in this case the very fine and Chardonnay-heavy 2018); wines that come from their oak-aged reserve wines and finally a new source, their Perpetual Reserve. This third needs some explaining - it is a new concept that began in 2012 that is a vast steel tank of wine that is added to at each vintage and also removed as needed for the blending process. It's very much like a Solera system in Sherry, but without the flor or the oak barrels. Or PX. Gently maturing and combatting, so the plan goes, some of the more alarming vintages that have peaks and troughs in temperatures, making traditional blending so challenging.
Because of the sourcing of soils in a more creative way than had been done for the Brut Premier, the acid levels are higher than ever, the pH levels are lower than ever, making it fresher than ever, while because of the age of the reserve wines, it is rounder and richer than ever. Confused? Well, perhaps try it. the effort to maintain a house style was becoming unsustainable and increasingly difficult with changing climates. This concept will by definition create more interesting wines that grab our attention. Based on this Collection, it's well-deserved.
During the First World War much of the Roederer's many vineyards were ruined. In the decades that followed, the house restored and replanted these vineyards, but as they were able to use far less of their own grapes, a decision was made to buy in grapes from other vineyards and create a multi-vintage blend: the first time Roederer had done so. Now, in response to the seemingly unstoppable increase in vineyard temperatures, the concept of what the region should express has changed in Roederer's eyes. This, a celebration of their 243rd harvest in 2018, is a very positive response that should yield many more fascinating and delicious wines to come.
Grape(s): Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay
Style: Vibrant, Medium Bodied, Meditation, Intense, Fresh, Elegant, Electric, Crisp, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Trout, Sushi, St Stephen's Day, Shellfish, Scallops, Poultry, Oysters, Lobster, Goat's Cheese, Game, Fine Dining, Duck, Christmas Dinner, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Asparagus, Aperitif