Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Report from ... Louis Roederer Champagne Dinner - October 14, 2014

Somedays are better than others, and a day when you get to have a "Champagne Dinner" with Jean Baptiste Lecaillon, executive vice-president of production & chef de caves/winemaker of Louis Roederer, must count as one of those days.  Read on as I take you inside to see what happens at one of these dinner.

Dinner was to be held as Sassafraz in Toronto and saw the pairing of
7 Roederer Champagnes - with a few special, not-yet-released and limited
bottlings in the mix.
It all starts with the Brut Premier in all its fancy packaging;
Brut Premier has 8 different vintages within the blend.
A dimming of the lights and lightning of the candles signifies a start to the evening
And a quick look at the menu
(more on that later)
Mr. Jean Baptiste Lecaillon,
a wealth of valuable knowledge about Roederer, founded in 1776.
He joined the company in 1989, became Chef de Caves in 1999
and added agronomist to his title in 2000.
"I will be quiet tonight because the wine will speak for itself"
(notice the pursed lips)
Roederer is one of the last family owned Champagne houses.
Today they own 240 hectares and buy land at a rate
of ~2 hectares per year.  140 hectares of that land
is Grand Cru, the rest is Premier Cru.
"We do not make Champagne at Roederer, we make wines of Champagne."
There are 410 blocks and each is fermented separately because of the
different soils Roederer has to play with.  They grow only Chardonnay
and Pinot Noir, then buy in Pinot Meunier for the Brut Premier.

The Wines ...

Created in 1876 for the Tsar of Russia who dictated the label and the bottle.
Made from old vine grapes grown in chalky soils, which are cropped at 30%
than the appellation dictates - then 25-30% is oak fermented.  It's a wine
made in 7 of 10 years and disgorged after 7 years.  They have used the same
glassware since 1896

Nose:  Definite mineral, green apple, lime zest and apple skin
Taste:  Dried apple and mineral with a lovely mid-palate and a touch of
hazelnut/almond notes - surprisingly crisp yet with a weight on the palate.
First time tasted in North America:
10 years on lees and released 10 years after disgorging
They held back some 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2002 just for this purpose.
57% Pinot Noir - 43% Chardonnay

Nose:  lovely biscuity, bruised apple, hazelnut and bread crust
Taste:  Great texture with mineral, butterscotch and spice;
rich mouthfeel, fresh with creamy lime notes and a long finish.
This wine almost defies description, it is one to be tasted to be believed
"When we make Rose we are not winemakers, we are more like pastry chefs,
we go on flavour because it's all juices that we blend." - JBL
"To make good Rose you need good Chardonnay." - JBL
Acidity comes from North facing Chardonnay.  70% Pinot Noir - 30% Chardonnay

Nose:  Gentle hints of raspberry and strawberry with subtle lime notes
Taste:  Follows the nose but with a huge dollop of acid keeping it fresh
and lively - quite simply spectacular (**** 1/2)
"I would never base a blend or wine on purchased fruit, only my own vineyard." - JBL
The success of blending is cool Pinot Noir with riper Chardonnay and vice versa
70% Pinot Noir (cool climate adds minerality) - 30% Chardonnay (adds roundness)

Nose:  Lots of yeasty character, fresh bread crust: bakery first thing in the morning
Taste:  Follows the nose; lovely fresh biscuity, bready, lively and exciting;
rich and full of finesse with beeswax on the finish (****+)

2006 Brut Nature
First ever Brut Nature for Roederer, made with 20% Pinot Meunier
All grapes picked on the same day to show terroir alone, monochrome colour
50% oak / 50% stainless steel - 10 months - no dosage

Tasting Note: Fresh, crisp, good acidity, a touch earthy with
great minerality; pretty yet slightly bitter, a perfect oyster wine.
Wild yeast, no malolactic, grapes from three villages (all Grand Cru)
Nose:  crisp apple, croissant, burnt butter, toasty almond
Taste:  chalky, mineral, vanilla foam and a long finish (****)

The Dinner ...

Arugula with cumin cashews, grapefruit, toasted coconut
and a rhubarb citrus vinaigrette
Organic BC Chinook Salmon with roasted garlic mascarpone orzo,
broccolini, pine nuts, yellow tomato romesco

Cheese Platter
Milk Chocolate Mousse with olive oil ganache,
passion fruit coulis, roasted candied almonds

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