Allison Levine, Please the Palate: Presentation of the Louis Roederer 242 champagne collection | Allison levine
As we celebrate a New Year, we often say, “Step out of the old; with the new one. This is exactly what Louis Roederer Champagne does. They said goodbye to Brut Premiere and hello to Collection 242, a wine that honors the past in an avant-garde way.
Founded in 1776 in Reims, France, Champagne Louis Roederer is one of the few independent family businesses still run by the original Roederer family. Louis Roederer inherited the business from his uncle in 1832 and renamed it under his namesake.
Louis Roederer knew that to make great Champagne, you had to start with great still wines. And to make great wines, you have to own your own vineyard. He began acquiring vineyards at Mont de Reims in 1842 and today Champagne Louis Roederer owns nearly 600 hectares of vines in the villages of Montagne de Reims, Côtes des Blancs and Vallée de la Marne.
In addition, Champagne Louis Roederer began converting its vineyards to biodynamic agriculture in the 1990s, and today the 185 hectares of vines are cultivated biodynamically, making Louis Roederer the largest biodynamic estate in Champagne.
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Although known for its exquisite vintage champagne and Cuvée de Prestige Cristal, the flagship wine was the non-vintage Brut Premier. Reflecting the style of the house, the Brut Premier was the most produced wine in the portfolio and available everywhere. Until now.
The Louis Roederer NV Brut Premiere has been replaced by the Louis Roederer Collection 242, raising the level of the house’s flagship wine.
The Louis Roederer Collection 242 is a multi-vintage wine, as opposed to a non-vintage wine. The “Nonvintage” is a blend of vintages for the sake of consistency each year. This was a beneficial model with the historically unpredictable weather in Champagne. However, due to climate change over the past 30 years, warmer years mean that champagne from a single vintage can be produced more often. A multi-vintage Champagne is a different approach to the art of blending wine.
The idea for Collection 242 was born 10 years ago when Champagne Louis Roederer created a perpetual reserve. Like the solera system used for sherry in Spain, the perpetual reserve started with the 2012 vintage, and each year wines from the last harvest are added.
The perpetual reserve, which currently includes wines from the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages, is kept in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. The wine has not undergone malolactic fermentation and the reducing environment does not allow the wines to age.
The particularity of the perpetual reserve is that it will eventually be a blend of 20 harvests, then 30 harvests. And, in 100 years, the perpetual blend will count 105 harvests.
Champagne Louis Roederer Collection 242 is made from 34% of the perpetual reserve, 56% of the 2017 harvest and 10% of reserve wines aged in oak barrels from the 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages. It’s a blend of 42 percent Chardonnay, 36 percent Pinot Noir and 22 percent Pinot Meunier. The grapes of the blend come in equal parts from the La Rivière de Roederer estate, the La Montagne estate and the La Côte estate. The wine spends four years less and has an eight percent dosage.
Collection 242 is an elegantly contained champagne with aromas of citrus zest, apple, stone fruit, spring flowers and a touch of hazelnut. In the mouth, there is a beautiful richness, but it is structured and precise with a fresh energy and a long finish.
The name of the wine, Collection 242, represents the number of blends since the founding of the House of Champagne. 2017 is the 242nd harvest of Champagne Louis Roederer. Later versions of the Collection line will reflect the number of harvests, for example next year’s version with a 2018 base will be the 243 Collection.
Although this is a multi-vintage wine, in many ways it is also vintage specific. Each outing will be unique due to the base vintage and the perpetual reserve. It’s a cellarable champagne, like vintage champagne, but at $ 55, it’s an affordable option to drink now.
Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate, a marketing and event planning agency. A freelance writer, she contributes to numerous publications while eating and drinking across the world. Allison is also the host of the Wine Soundtrack USA wine podcast and co-host of the Crush On This videos on YouTube. Contact her at [email protected]