Champagne Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs
The Wine Advocate
June 29, 2018, Stephan Reinhardt
“From a difficult year (no Cristal, no Vintage) with a wet summer and a harvest already in August (like 2017 and most probably also 2018), Roederer's soon-to-be-released 2011 Blanc de Blancs offers a clear, bright, fresh and very delicate and floral bouquet with almond, hazelnut and nougat aromas. Sourced entirely in Avize (toward Cramant in the north and Oger in the south), where "Chardonnay behaved quite well that year," as Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon put it. He noted that the 2011 Blanc de Blancs comes along "like a Crémant from the Loire Valley rather than a Champagne from the Côte des Blancs" due to its low pressure. Thirty percent of the cuvée was fermented in oak (in 2017, it's 32%) to give a more rich and round style of Blanc de Blancs since the characteristic salinity comes in the finish anyway. "We like texture! That's why we pick very ripe grapes at 11% alcohol. We don't chaptalize, and—since 1930—we don't need malolactic fermentation here. We just reduce the pressure to ensure a fuller, richer flow of bubbles." In fact, the 2011 is deliciously rich and charming but also pure, highly delicate (if not tender) and lifted by an airy freshness. The finish is pure and salty and underlines the great elegance, finesse and supple lightness of the 2011. To tell you the truth, this is a damn good 2011! Disgorged in January 2018; tasted May 2018.”
Louis Roederer‘s familiarity with the terroirs dates back to 1776, practicing separate winemaking processes and controlling the production of bubbles. At the heart of the Côte des Blancs vineyards, where chardonnay expresses itself with so much finesse and subtlety on limestone soils, Louis Roederer selected two exceptional grands crus (Le Mesnil sur Oger and Avize) whose distinctive and complementary characteristics allow intense wines to be produced,expressing both finesse and rich aromas. This elegant, racy cuvée quickly became the favorite wine of the Roederer family for major family events. Blanc de Blancs is 100% estate-bottled from the grapes of the historic family-owned vineyards.
The Blanc de Blancs 2011 cuvée was drawn off at low pressure in order to create a rounder and smoother effervescence. It was bottle-aged for 5 years and then left to rest for a further 8 months after disgorging to attain the perfect maturity. The dosage is 9 g/l.
Bright clear hue with deep lemon-yellow and greenish tints. The fine, even bubbles form tiny threads in the glass. The nose is discreet and delicate, the most prominent notes being of orchard fruits such as apple and pear. After aeration, the apple aromas take on more caramelised scents of baked apple, tarte tatin and finely roasted hazelnut. The chardonnay then develops a limestone character with mineral notes of hot stone, delicate spice, candied lemon, citrus, graphite, and even a hint of tobacco. The wine is velvety on entry to the palate, with a soft, smooth texture which dominates the palate, coating it with a delicate yet concentrated mouthfeel. It then broadens to reveal a zesty yet mineral freshness. The wine continues to take shape on the palate showing density at first, followed by chocolatey, almost tannic, notes and then finally a slightly bitter freshness that lengthens the finish. The undeniably saline end-palate is underpinned by an interminable chalky freshness that makes your mouth water, refreshes the palate, and invites you to take another sip!
This cool, wet year paradoxically resulted in a historically early harvest for Louis Roederer. It was a ‘reversed-season’ with a warm, dry winter followed by almost summer-like weather throughout the spring. Summer got off to a cooler, more autumnal start and the cold, rainy weather continued until the end of August. Summer finally arrived in September, which enjoyed warm temperatures throughout the month. Maturation was outstanding, unexpectedly so given the mediocre weather conditions during the year. The 2011 vintage required patience as well as a rigorous sorting of the grapes at harvest time since (as was the case for the 2010 vintage), only the south-facing vines and those loaded with fewer clusters managed to reach satisfactory levels of ripeness.
Varietals: 100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 9 g/L
Suggested Retail Price: $85.99