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The wines of Louis Roederer, Champagne, France

Roederer are one of the leading ‘boutique’ Champagne houses, most famous for their celebrated Cristal, which recently became chic with the likes of footballers and the hip-hop crowd. Celebrity wine it may be, but there’s substance behind the style: Cristal is utterly fantastic. Here I tried the 1990 and 1996 from magnum, and they were among the best wines of all types that I’ve yet to try.

But let’s not take away anything from Roederer’s other wines, which are all brilliant. Part of the secret to this success is that unusually for Champagne houses, Roederer predominantly use grapes from their own vineyards. Their 180 hectares of vineyards make up some 80% of their production.

Some history. Originally founded in the late 18th century, Louis Roederer joined in 1827. Initially, Roederers biggest customers were the Russians, the 1917 revolutionaries were no Champagne socialists, and they lost 80% of their market overnight. Cristal itself was commissioned in Tsar Alexander II, who wanted his wine in clear glass: Cristal comes in similar clear, puntless bottles to this day.

Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 1999
Lovely freshness allied with some fuller flavours: quite a concentrated, intense style with high acidity. Fantastic length with some nutty richness on the finish. Very good/excellent 93/100

Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs 1999
Yeah, baby.
This works for me. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay only) Champagnes. Lovely fresh, intense lemony fruit here with some toasty complexity. Full and fresh. The palate fresh, lemony and bright with brilliant acidity. Almost austere. Very good/excellent 94/100

Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 1999
Very pale salmon colour. Really lovely, intense complex palate with some sweet, warm strawberry fruit and a touch of herbiness. Dominating it all, though, is fresh, intense acidity. Lovely stuff. 93/100

Louis Roderer Cristal 1996 (magnum)
Really complex, bright fresh, toasty lemony nose. It’s beguiling. Absolutely fantastic. The palate is concentrated and full with bright lemony fruit, high acid and fantastic, rich, herb-tinged complexity. Brilliant acidity. This is almost perfect. Excellent 97/100

Louis Roedere Cristal 1990 (magnum)
Wow. Complex and full; evolved and yet still fresh, with bold nutty toasty notes on the nose, together with some herbal complexity. The palate is broad but still very concentrated and fresh with massive length and real harmony, with high acidity suggesting this still has some evolution ahead of it. Complex and intense, and, again, almost perfect. Excellent 98/100

UK agent: Maisons Marques et Domaines (020 8812 3380)

Wines tasted 02/06
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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