lunes, 11 de marzo de 2013

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV


CHAMPAGNE LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT PREMIER NV

"Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV is the embodiment of Louis Roederer style, combining all the fruitiness and freshness of youth with the vinosity of a fully mature wine. This is a structured and elegantly mature wine, with a lively attack and a smooth palate. Fine bubbles and a nose of fresh fruit and hawthorn. Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds. A pleasurable wine, deliciously smooth and mature". farehamwinecellar

"The NV Brut Premier is a gorgeous wine that stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of wines in its price range. Apparently, it is quite possible to make great Champagne that doesn’t cost a small fortune. Ripe pears, smoke, spices, dried flowers and herbs are some of the many nuances that emerge from the glass. The Brut Premier shows lovely mid-palate depth and fabulous overall balance. Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon has done it again. This is a fabulous Brut Premier." 92 Points The Wine Advocate - Antonio Galloni - November 30, 2011

"A beautifully integrated wine that shows richness, even a touch of toasty age to go with apple and intense acidity. The acidity shows so well against the rich backdrop of ripe fruits and a final edgy texture." 91 Points, Wine Enthusiast - Roger Voss - December 01, 2011

- Wine information: Champagne Louis Roederer is one of the few remaining completely independent, family owned Champagne houses. By 1886 the House had achieved such a reputation for quality that the second Louis Roederer was asked by Tsar Alexander II to create Cristal for the exclusive use of the Russian Tsars, and in so doing created the first Cuvée de Prestige. Roederer owns just over 200 hectares of vineyards located in the finest areas of Champagne - Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs. Each vineyard is situated in the finest sites, with the plots ranking between 95% and 100% on the Echelle des Crus. This makes Roederer self sufficient for 100% of its vintage styles, and provides two-thirds of its production for Brut Premier. Such a high proportion of ‘estate’ grapes is very unusual in Champagne, and ensures superior quality at all stages from grape to glass. The benchmark of a Champagne house’s style is its Non Vintage. Roederer’s Brut Premier is blended from at least four vintages in a cuvée composed of two-thirds Pinot (of which 10-15% is Pinot Meunier) and one-third Chardonnay. Aged for 36 months prior to disgorgement, it is released only after a further six months in the cellars in Reims. Brut Premier is consistently rated as one of the finest non-vintage Champagnes. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. Dosage 10-11 grams per litre.

- Price: £39

CHAMPAGNE BLEND WINE

Champagne Blend is a term used to denote the combination of grape varieties used to make the sparkling wines of Champagne. In almost every situation this means a duo of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with Pinot Meunier acting as a convenient optional extra, depending on the wine region in question. There are in fact seven grape varieties permitted under the Champagne appellation laws, but the remaining four are so rarely used that they are largely ignored.

The phrase Champagne Blend is used to describe sparkling wines made in regions other than Champagne, particularly in English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. All of these countries produce wines made from this blend, although most of these focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, side-lining the less glamorous, less marketable Pinot Meunier.

The development of the Champagne Blend was not as deliberate as it might seem; the grapes that were chosen for cultivation in Champagne were those that were most likely to ripen in the cool continental climate of northern France. At a northern latitude of 49 degrees, Champagne is among the most northerly and coldest viticultural regions in the world. Its average growing season temperatures are several degrees lower than those found in California, Victoria, Tasmania and Marlborough, the regions that use Pinot and Chardonnay grapes in their sparkling wines. The cold autumns in Champagne make it is a challenge to ripen grapes fully, and to drive ferments through to completion. It was the latter fact which (according to legend) led the monk Dom Perignon to observe that unfermented sugar started a secondary fermentation in his bottles - and so began the development of the world's most famous sparkling wine.

Other than the ability to ripen in cool climates, the three grapes all contribute something particular to Champagne Blend wines. Pinot Noir adds structure and brings a certain berry-fruit nose to the blend, while the Chardonnay fleshes this out and sets the wine up for aging, particularly when the base wine is aged in oak. Pinot Meunier, the more widely planted of the three in the Champagne vineyards, is more of an insurance policy than a vital fine wine component. Not only is it the first of the trio to bud and flower (avoiding the risk of frost damage) but it is also the first to ripen. This is a considerable advantage in any cool climate wine region, and more than compensates for Pinot Meunier's lack of flavor. This explains why 'Champagne Blend in the warmer regions on the New World so rarely refers to wines containing Pinot Meunier.

Variations on the Champagne blend are used all over the world, in the crémant wines of Alsace and Burgundy, in Italy's top sparkling wine Franciacorta. and modern styles of Cava. The other members of the Pinot family (Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc) are the other main varieties used in these variations. There is no question, however, that the classic Champagne Blend (or at least two thirds of it) has proved its worth in vineyards the world over.

CHAMPAGNE BRUT

Champagne Brut is by far the most common style of Champagne wine. The word brut means 'crude' or 'raw' in French. In the context of Champagne production it indicates that the wine is bottled (almost) unsweetened - in its natural, 'raw' state.

In practice almost all Brut Champagnes do receive a small addition of sweetness (dosage prior to final bottling). Nowadays, the terms 'brut nature' and 'zero dosage' are used to indicate champagnes with no dosage at all. The brut style was pioneered by Perrier-Jouet in the mid-19th century, originally for the extensive Champagne markets of Great Britain.

According to the INAO and EU laws, the technical definition of brut is 'less than 15 grams per liter of residual sugar' (this applies to all sparkling wines from Europe). In still wines, which lack the sparkle and high acidity of Champagne, this much sugar would leave the wine perceptibly sweet.

The other official sweetness levels of champagne are:
- Doux (50+ g/L)
- Demi-sec (33-50 g/L)
- Sec (17-35 g/L)
- Extra-Sec (12-20 g/L)
- Brut (0-15 g/L)
- Extra Brut (0-6 g/L)
- Brut Nature/Zero (0-3 g/L).

CHAMPAGNE WINE REGION

Champagne is the name of the world's most famous sparkling wine, the appellation under which it is sold, and the French wine region from which it comes. While it has been used to refer to sparkling wines from all over the world - a point of much controversy and legal wrangling in recent decades - Champagne is a legally controlled and restricted name.

It's difficult to attribute Champagne's fame to a discrete set of factors, but there are three key reasons of which we can be reasonably certain. First are the all-important bubbles, which make it stand out from less `exciting wines´. Second are its high prices, which endow an air of exclusivity. Third (and perhaps most important), are two centuries of clever marketing, to a willingly receptive consumer base.

Located at a northern latitude of 49 degrees. Champagne lies at the northern edge of the world's vineyard-growing areas, with lower average temperatures than any other French wine region. In this kind of cool climate, the growing season is rarely warm enough to ripen grapes to the levels required for standard winemaking. Even in temperate years, Champagne's grapes still bear the hallmark acidity of a marginal climate, and it was only the discovery of secondary fermentation that provided a wine style capable of harnessing - and even embracing - this tartness.

Pinot Noir. Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the primary grape varieties used to make Champagne - a recipe which is used for sparkling wines across the world. It is a little-known fact that four other varieties are also permitted for use in Champagne and are still employed today, albeit in tiny quantities. They are Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris (Fromenteau Gris) and Arbane (Arbanne). All seven varieties are still used together in at least one producer's Champagne; Laherte Freres' Champagne '7' is the most salient example.

The reason for this encepagement is not necessarily of the Champenois' own choosing, however. As with so many French wines, it was the local climate and soils which dictated that Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay would be grown. That said, it was the famous Benedictine monk Dom Perignon (often erroneously credited with the invention of sparkling wines) who encouraged the use of black-skinned grapes (specifically Pinot Noir) over white. This advice was given on the basis that the wines produced from Pinot Noir were less prone to re-fermentation, which had not yet become a controlled part of winemaking in Champagne.

The first wines produced here - more than a thousand years ago - were unlike those which have made the region famous today. They were typically pink-hued still wines made mostly from Pinot Noir. Today, the wines come in several forms. The whites may be either Blanc de Noirs (made from red grapes), Blanc de Blancs (made from white grapes, most often Chardonnay) or just plain Blanc (made from any combination of the permitted varieties). Champagne is also made as rose, either by adding red wine to a white blend or sometimes by fermenting the juice in contact with the skins. These types all come with varying degrees of sweetness - not necessarily the result of residual sugar, but due to the addition of a dosage just before the wine is finally bottled.

The production process for Champagne is similar to that for other wines, but includes an additional (and vital) stage, during which a second fermentation is started in the bottle by the addition of yeast and sugars. It is this that generates the carbon dioxide bubbles responsible for the pop and sparkle that are the symbols of Champagne. Aged on its lees for at least 12 months. Champagne may not be released to market until it has spent a further three months in bottle (24 months in the case of the vintage wines).

Most Champagne is sold without a vintage statement, making it 'Non-Vintage' or NV. The main reason for this is the variability in vintages which results from the marginal climate here; by blending vintages together, the effect of a bad year is lessened. In years of exceptional quality, however, many houses release a vintage Champagne (millésimé in French) made exclusively from grapes harvested in the stated year. These are typically designed for longer bottle ageing and are made to higher quality specifications.

Aside from the climatic conditions of the particular vintage and the characteristics of the grape varieties, there is a third component in the distinctiveness of Champagne. The landscape that earned Champagne its name (it roughly translates as ’open countryside’) undulates very gently over the white, calcareous soils of the Paris Basin. This famous chalk is distinct from the limestone soils of other French wine regions, being much finer-grained and more porous. This looser structure means that its mineral content is more readily absorbed by the vine roots, and it also provides excellent drainage - avoiding the risks of waterlogging. A further benefit is that this permeability allows access to the water resources far below, promoting strong root development and ensuring a continuous water supply.

Even within this relatively consistent terroir, there are variations in soils and climate that make different areas better suited to the needs of the three main grape varieties. The appropriately named Cote des Blancs - and particularly the Cote de Sezanne - are where the finest Chardonnay sites are found, while the Montagne de Reims and the Vallee de la Mameare ideally suited to Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The official appellations of the Champagne region are Champagne; Champagne Premier Cru and Champagne Grand Cru (which reflect high and very high quality of terroir in the vineyards); Rose de Ricevs: and Coteaux Champenois. Branding is so important in Champagne that the Maison (producer) names overshadow the appellation titles themselves, severely limiting the significance of the Grand Cru and Premier Cru titles.

Rosé des Riceys and Coteaux Champenois are non-sparkling (still) wines, typically light in body and high in natural acidity. They offer a glimpse of how wines from Champagne might have been before the sparkle we know today.

References: farehamwinecellar and wine-searcher 

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