Louis Roederer is doing away with its best-selling Champagne, Brut Premier NV, as it launches a new, slightly more expensive, multi-vintage entry-point to its range called Collection. The announcement came from cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, who called it the “end of an era for Brut sans année in Champagne”. The new Collection is set to arrive in September of this year.
Collection is a numbered cuvée that will have a slightly different expression each year depending on the blend of wines used in its creation. In the past, Louis Roederer’s Brut NV (like other non-vintage sparkling blends) was comprised of a dominant base wine from its most recent harvest, blended with a series of ‘reserve’ wines from older vintages to create a consistent house style,
At the core of the new cuvée is a “réserve perpetuelle,” which is a vast tank holding a blend of older harvests dating back to 2012, which is topped up each year, similar to the solera system used by Sherry producers – a blend of wines going back decades that’s refreshed annually with wines from the most recent harvest.
Lécaillon pointed out that this new approach will be good for both the consumer, who will receive a “more expressive” Champagne, and for the winemaker, who will be allowed “more freedom” in the creation process. It will also create “freshness” as a huge vat holding a blend of past harvests is a better way to prevent oxidation than storing wines from different vintages separately in smaller tanks.
The first batch of the new cuvée will be called Collection 242 because the inaugural cuvée was based around the 2017 vintage, the 242nd harvest since the foundation of Roederer in 1776.
Each release in the series will feature a different number, reflecting the fact that these cuvées, made annually, will have a different make-up and slightly altered character.
For the Collection 242, there is 34% réserve perpetuelle containing equal parts 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages, along with 10% reserve wines aged in oak (2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and the remaining 56% being wine from the 2017 vintage. It is made up of 42% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, and 22% Meuni.
The Louis Roederer Collection 242 has a “more complex bouquet than Brut Premier and it has more spiciness thanks to the réserve perpetuelle,” says Lécaillon. “The Brut Premier is tighter because it is more based on a recent harvest, whereas the Collection has more ample fruit, more ready to drink flavours, although it is fresher too because amazingly the pH is lower than what we had in Brut Premier, and that’s thanks to the réserve perpetuelle, the way we aged the wines, and the selection of soils.”
Collection has a slightly lower dosage, with 8g/l, compared to 9g/l in the Brut Premier.
Collection 242 is priced at £52 and will hit stores in September. For more information, head over to Louis Roederer’s official website.