Founded in Reims in 1776, Louis Roederer champagne House is one of the few family business in the world still independent. The House was originally property of Nicolas Schreider until 1833, when his son Louis Roederer succeeded and decided to give his name to the business.Under his influence – and thanks to the help of his brother Eugene and a great entrepreneur as Hugues Kraft – sales rase up from to 700,00 to 100,000 bottles per year and reached the figure of 2,500,000 under the governance of Louis’s son, Louis Roederer II.In few years, the House became one of the most renowned of the times and this happened mostly thanks to the introduction and spreading of the famous Cristal champagne on the Russian market.
The story says that in 1876, informed that the Tsar had taken offence at the fact that nothing distinguished the bottles of champagne swathed in white linen on his table from those of ordinary people, the House called up a Flemish master glass worker who designed an untinted crystal bottle with a flat base and so would be born the famous prestige cuvee Cristal, with the highly illustrious bottle, duly adorned with the imperial coat of arms.
Indeed, part of Louis Roederer great success is due to Russian market: under the reign of Nicolas II, even before turning towards European tables – and then towards the world – the House became “the Official supplier to the Imperial Court of Russia”.
Moreover, the House has opted, since its origins, for a “grower strategy”, which consisted of acquiring the best pieces of land in order to gain independence in terms of the very high quality grapes that is sought-after today.
In the same way, under the governance of founder Louis Roederer, the House acquired or commissioned the building of immense cellars in Boulevard Lundy in Reims, with a view to achieving a higher level of production.
At the time quality and quantity were not seen as incompatibles and the notion of rarity, today synonymous with Roederer, was to come later: it was only in 1979 that Jean-Claude Rouzaud, succeeding to Camille Orly-Roederer, decided to implement a chateau policy that, breaking free from the dictates of marketing, favored quality over quantity.
His son, Frédéric Rouzaud, pursued the same logic thanks to having control over all the production: not only he enlarged the vineyard by several hectares (214 hectares now) but he also embarked on the construction of a new fermenting room and a new cellar to accommodate nine million bottles .
These investments have been made in the light of guaranteeing an excellent production and so to keep rendering Roederer wines – Cristal inprimis – so alluring.
Today the House, giving tribute to founder Louis Roederer’s passion for art and literature, is the main sponsor of the photographic gallery at the Bibliothéque Nationale de France and is a supporting sponsor of the Prix de Flore – the youngest of the Parisian literary prizes, as well as the Wine Writers Awards in London, the Mostra in Venice and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Champagne House Louis Roederer is still in the hands of Roederer family. Despite the House is of medium sizes, in the past two decades it has become one of the most important wine firms in the world thanks to a “chateau policy”, consisting of offering wines of the highest quality.
Though the limits imposed by such a quality choice, the owners of the House, Jean Claude Rouzaud over the years and now Frédéric Rouzaud, have acquired many properties around the Champagne House in Reims and beyond, altogether making up “the Louis Roederer Group”.
This portfolio of wineries comprises Champagne Deutz; Roederer Estate and Scharffenberger Cellars in California; Porto Adriano Ramos-Pinto; Delas Frères wines from the Rhône Valley; Domaines Ott from Provence; Château de Pez, Château Haut-Beauséjour, and Château Bernadotte in Bordeaux, and Glenelly Winery in South Africa.
The latest acquisition was in 2006 and is one of the top Bordeaux winerie, Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. In Bordeaux, the House has also an equal share with the Duclot Group in the Maison Descaves. Louis Roederer owns 214 hectares vineyards planted exclusively in the Premiers and Grand Crus of Cotée des Blancs region, Montagne de Reims and Vallée de la Marne region. Every year the House produces 3.3 million bottles.
Conscious of the fact that the quality of his wines depended primarily on that of his grapes, Louis Roederer applies a “chateau policy”, consisting of offering wines of the highest quality, accepting the notion of rarity this inevitably brought with it.
The grapes of the 214 hectares property owe their quality to the poor soil clinging to deep chalk bedrock, their slow maturation, the exposed hillsides and the cold, northern hemisphere climate offering little sunshine outside the summer months.
The wine produced from these grapes is full bodied and rich with the exception of its prestige cuvée, Cristal, wich is elegant and well-balanced.
Cellar master Jean Baptiste Lécaillon – in charge of the blending since 1999 and also Vineyard director to follow the House’s philosophy for which the secrets of a great champagne lie in the work put into the vine – has lowered the dosage of the champagnes to 9 grams per liter (8 grams for Cristal).