- Louis Roederer
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Established in 1776, Champagne Louis Roederer is one of the few remaining completely independent family owned, great Champagne houses. By 1886 the House had achieved such a reputation for quality that the second Louis Roederer was asked by Tsar Alexander II to create Cristal for the exclusive use of the Russian Tsars, and in so doing created the first Cuvée de Prestige. In January 2006, Frédéric Rouzaud became the 6th generation of the family at the head of the company. With 10 years already behind him at Louis Roederer, Frédéric's accession is valuable; as a guarantee of continuity for the House. Roederer owns just over 200 hectares of vineyards located in the finest areas of Champagne - Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs. Roederer self sufficient for 100% of its vintage styles, and provides two-thirds of its production for Brut Premier. Such a high proportion of ‘estate' grapes is very unusual in champagne, and ensures superior quality at allstages from grape to glass.
Champagne, the world's greatest sparkling wine, needs little introduction - with imitations produced in virtually every country capable of growing grapes, including such unlikely candidates as India and China. The Champagne region, to the north of Paris, has the most northerly vineyards in France, with vines grown on slopes with a southerly exposure to maximise sunlight. The soil is chalky, providing an excellent balance of drainage and water retention. The key to the wine is in the cellar - the bubbles result from a second fermentation in the bottle and the rich toasty flavours in great Champagne come from extended bottle ageing on the yeasty lees. Until the eighteenth century, the wines produced in the Champagne area were light acidic white wines, with no hint of sparkle. However glass and closure technology developed at that time and it was not long before Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvilliers, started experimenting with blends and produced the first recognisable champagne. In a world accustomed to still wines, the advent of champagne was almost a flop. It was saved when it became fashionable at the French court as a result of Louis XV's mistress Madame de Pompadour commenting "Champagne isthe only wine that lets a woman remain beautiful after she has drunk it." And the rest is history, with famous (or infamous) champagne lovers including Casanova, Dumas, Wagner, Winston Churchill, James Bond and Coco Chanel.