Introducing Louis Roederer Champagne

Shelf filled with Louis Roederer champagne bottles

Location: Louis Roederer is located in Reims, France.

When was Louis Roederer founded? Louis Roederer was initially founded as Dubois Père & Fils in 1776.

Who founded Louis Roederer? The Champagne House was renamed by Louis Roederer himself after inheriting the company from his uncle in 1833. It’s a family-run maison de Champagne, managed by the descendants of its original founders.

Winemaking Designation: Negotiant Manipulant. Maison Louis Roederer grows Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in their own vineyards, but buys some of their Pinot Meunier. 

Louis Roederer Vineyards

How many vineyards does Louis Roederer have?

Louis Roederer owns 410 Grand and Premier Cru vineyard parcels, spanning a total of 593 acres.

a bottle of Louis Roederer Rose Champagne with bay in the background

Where are the vineyards?

Maison Louis Roederer has vineyards located in three classic Champagne regions of Montagne de Reims (172.9 acres), Vallée de la Marne (160.6 acres), and Côte des Blancs (197.6 acres).

These vineyards supply the House with two-thirds of its needs, planted to 53% Pinot Noir 41% Chardonnay, and 6% percent Pinot Meunier.

They buy more Pinot Meunier mainly for their NV Brut Premier since they tend only 14.8 acres for the grape variety. But this is due to the fact that the soil in that particular parcel is chalky, which isn’t ideal for Meunier.

That said, their vineyards have rich and fertile soil conditions, providing the House with a broad and diverse palette to use for creating their wines.

Their Blanc de Blancs estate in the Grand Cru vineyard of Avize, for example, has soil with its own character. This allows the grapes to produce powerful, rich, and mineral Chardonnays.

Their vintage estate covers parcels in the commune of Verzenay. It’s where the House cultivates the strong northern character of Pinot Noir for crisp wines with almost salty minerality.

Plots on highly sunny hills in the commune of Cumières make up their Vintage Rosé estate. The bright sunlight in those plots encourages the maturity of Pinot Noir, which gives their wines a rich fruitiness and rich texture.

Finally, their Cristal estate includes portions in Verzenay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, A, Mareuil-sur-A, Verzy, Avize, Cramant, and Mesnil-sur-Oger communes. These terroirs produce grapes that are exceedingly delicate and precise, giving their Cristal wines distinct and valuable flavor.

Growing Practices at Louis Roederer

Are they organic or biodynamic?

Louis Roederer has been adopting biodynamics in its vineyards, with 50% of them transitioning to biodynamic farming practices and the other h being completely organic. They cultivate their vines avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals, only natural and organic products.

All of their vintage Champagnes, such as Blanc de Blancs, Brut Vintage, and Cristal, are crafted from biodynamically grown grapes.

They currently cultivate 12 acres of biodynamic vineyard, a total of 24 acres committed to this initiative. With 185 acres planted based on biodynamic practices and inspiration from the concepts of permaculture, it’s also the largest biodynamic estate in the Champagne area.

Although they are yet to be certified fully organic, the Maison Louis Roederer has been experimenting with organic and biodynamic viticulture since 2000. Roughly 300 acres of their vineyards are certified sustainable with no herbicides used. In fact, grapes harvested in 2021 also have the “AB” organic certification.

Since 2014, their vineyards have been certified as “Viticulture Durable Champagne”and “Haute Valeur Environnementale Niveau 3 (HVE3).” These are both high levels of accreditation for sustainability. 

In 2021, Louis Roederer received the Robert Parker Green Emblem, which is granted to the most exceptional examples of sustainability practices in the wine industry.

Any special growing techniques used?

Maison Louis Roederer considers itself a winegrower rather than a Champagne House.

The House has been given the title of ‘pépiniériste privé‘ in France, which means it can operate a private vineyard to produce its own rootstocks. This also allows them to supervise the massive selection process from beginning to end.

The division of their vineyard holdings helps them in subdividing individual plots dedicated to certain cuvées. It allows them to have the same staff tend the same vines year after year. This also makes it easy for them to identify differences in the vines and solve issues as they arise.

When tending the vineyards, the House devotes great attention to all of its cultivation and winemaking operations.

To adapt to the local site conditions, they use various trellis methods or high-density plantations. The House uses modern tools and equipment, however, they rely heavily on skilled approaches. When it comes to pruning, for example, the fruits are hand-picked and pressed right at the harvest site.

In addition, the House ensures that the grapes are picked and vinified plot-by-plot, with their origins and traceability in mind. Doing so helps maintain each plot’s equilibrium and are protected from external factors and protects the vines from external factors.

Winemaking at Louis Roederer

Who is the winemaker?

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon has been the Chef de cave at Louis Roederer since 1999. He joined the Champagne House in August 1989 prior to becoming the cellarmaster and is now the Executive Vice-President in charge of the Roederer Collection’s production since 2006, supervising estates in France, California, and Portugal.

What types of wine-making techniques do they use?

When it comes to winemaking, pressing is a critical process for Louis Roederer because they must tailor the press to the grape variety. This variation in the pressure balances the bubbles with the wine. It begins with closely monitoring the grape’s ripeness prior to harvest to maintain the ideal balance.

The House must tweak its press and the way they deal with the juice, such as whether they use sulfites or not. The Chef de cave never sulfites Chardonnay during the pressing process, instead allowing it to oxidize to brown or black. 

Such an approach helps remove high amounts of phenolics, resulting in more mineral, intense Chardonnays.

In addition, they are protective of the pressing procedure for Chardonnays since they believe it improves the wine’s quality. But not with Pinot Noir. When it comes to pressing, this grape is treated more gently than Chardonnays.

And since the vineyards are in close proximity to the winery, it allows them to press the grapes quicker as there is no need to transport the fruits to a remote facility. This is a delicate process because the grapes change the color of the juice and should retain its golden hue and clarity.

Once the fruits are processed, the juice is sent to Reims’ main winery for fermentation in oak tuns for about 3 to 6 weeks. The change in temperature and humidity in the dark cellars can affect the bubbles. When the cellar is cold, the fermentation takes longer. But when it’s high in humidity, the fermentation process will be quicker.

One of the techniques that the Chef de cave due is changing the amount of yeast or oxygen, which results in more glycerol and gives that fuller mouthfeel.

As the blends ferment, the bottles go through daily riddling, which ensures that any residual settling in the bottlenecks. Those deposits will then be removed and reveal a clear and bright champagne that just needs the finishing touch which is the liqueur d’expédition—adding the dosage right after the disgorgement.

The winery’s goal is to make the tiniest bubbles possible.

The Chef de cave can decide where the bubbles should be more prominent: at the front or back of the mouth. For stronger wines, bubbles in the back of the mouth would be more prominent. while a more traditional, delicate wine is more balanced, with prominent bubbles at the front.

The Wines at Louis Roederer

Maison Louis Roederer crafts multi-vintage, vintage, Cristal, and special wine editions. Their cuvées are aged on the lees and in the cellar for different lengths of time.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier – Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier base wines; mixed with 30% reserve wines. This wine is aged in the cellars for 3 years and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorgement.

Louis Roederer Carte Blanch – Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier. This wine is aged between 3 to 4 years in the cellars.

Louis Roederer Cristal – Made from 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir. This wine is aged for 6 years in the cellars and left for a further 8 months after disgorgement.

Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé – Made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay and 20% reserve wines, with a dosage of 7.5 grams per liter. This cuvée is aged in oak tuns for at least 6 years.

Louis Roederer Brut Nature – Available in rosé and blanc styles which are both made from 55% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay.

Louis Roederer  Hommage à Camille – This blend is an homage to Camille Olry-Roederer, Léon Olry Roederer’s wife. It comes in white Chardonnay and red Pinot Noir.

Louis Roederer  Blanc de Blancs Vintage – Made from 100% Chardonnay. To ensure optimal maturity, it’s typically aged on lees for 5 years and left for a minimum of 6 months following disgorgement.

Louis Roederer Vintage – Made predominantly of Pinot Noir wine with small amounts of Chardonnay. This Vintage cuvée is typically aged on lees for 4 years and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorgement to achieve optimal maturity.

a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne Vintage 2013 with glass of champagne in background

Visit Louis Roederer

Maison Louis Roederer isn’t open to the public. Only members of the wine industry are allowed to enter the Champagne House.