Focus on minerals: Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006

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Product development is slow in the wine business. The most recent new product launch by Louis Roederer was in 1974. Now comes the next: Roederer Brut Nature 2006, designed by Philippe Starck. BKWine Magazine’s Tomas Eriksson reports.

The prestigious champagne house Louis Roederer has introduced a new champagne in its range. It is a vintage champagne in “brut nature” style, which means that it is made without any dosage, ie. with no sugar added to the finished product. In many champagnes a small amount of sugar is added after the yeast deposit has been removed. In a regular brut there may be up to 12 grams of sugar per liter. The first vintage of the Brut Nature to be launched is 2006.

Last time the Roederer range was extended was in the vintage 1974, when Cristal Rosé was added.

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature 2006 Philippe Starck
Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature 2006 Philippe Starck, copyright T Eriksson

A biodynamic champagne?

It is not only with the lack of dosage that brut nature is different, but this champagne is also made quite differently than their usual “base” vintage champagne. Grapes are taken exclusively from biodynamic vineyards, Roederer has quite a lot of that. The main component of the wine is Pinot Noir from Cumières.

The champagne is made up of 2/3 pinot noir and 1/3 chardonnay, without malolactic fermentation, ie the acidity level is preserved in full. Half of the base wine is vinified in oak barrels and half in steel tank. Roederer has chosen to give this champagne a little less pressure, about 4.5 atmospheres instead of the usual 6 atmospheres. About 10 ha of vineyards have been used to make the Brut Nature, and the production is about 60,000 bottles.

A brass sign at the winery of Louis Roederer
A brass sign at the winery of Louis Roederer, copyright BKWine Photography

Future editions after 2006 will be 2009 and 2012, all vintages with good grape ripening. This particular recipe – no malolactic fermentation and no dosage – appears to requir a high grape maturity to provide the balance that Roederer aspire to.

Roederer has collaborated with artist Philippe Starck for the design of the label and the carton box that each bottle comes in.

Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006, tasting

The aroma shows yellow apples, slightly baked apples, clear mineral tone with a salty minerality, slightly spicy, slightly smoky, slightly toasty tones, slightly cocoa and slightly dried berries and light earthy tones.

The taste is very dry with a distinct salty minerality, yellow apples, quite distinct acidity, slightly spicy with eg peppery notes, and much mineral in the finish. Showing a tight elegance. Does not need ageing but can be drunk now, preferably with food, 90-91 p.

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature 2006 Philippe Starck
Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature 2006 Philippe Starck, copyright T Eriksson

This is a tight and very dry champagne with the minerals in the focus. Coming from a rather warm vintage and having a high proportion of pinot it shows a little slimmer than expected. The warm weather can be sensed in the notes of baked apples. Stylistically, it resembles a modern grower’s champagne (as opposed to a “house” or brand champagne), perhaps more so than anything released by any of the major champagne houses. Should one compare it to Roederer’s own range I think in some ways it is closer to Cristal than the “regular” Roederer Vintage, albeit with less grapefruit and floral notes.

It is noteworthy that this champagne is sold at an older age than Cristal, that has already been launched in the 2007 vintage. A very interesting addition to the Roederer range.

(Launched in Sweden at around 70 euro. Available in the US around $80 and in Europe around €65.)

Tomas Eriksson is one of the contributors on BKWine Magazine. He is active in the wine tasting association AuZone in Stockholm and in Munskänkarna, where he sometimes holds wine courses. Tomas also runs a blog called Vintomas.

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The portico on the entrance door to Champagne Louis Roederer
The portico on the entrance door to Champagne Louis Roederer, copyright BKWine Photography
Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature 2006 Philippe Starck
Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Nature 2006 Philippe Starck, copyright T Eriksson
The wine cellar and winery building of Champagne Louis Roederer
The wine cellar and winery building of Champagne Louis Roederer, copyright BKWine Photography

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