Champagne house Louis Roederer is to open its own vineyard nursery to have better control over rootstock and enabling it to experiment with pre-phylloxera vines.
Maison Louis Roederer has been granted the status of ‘pepiniériste privé’ in France, meaning it is able to run a private vineyard nursery to grow its own rootstocks and control the process of massale selection from beginning to end.
‘This has been a gradual process,’ chef de cave and executive vice-president Jean Baptiste Lecaillon told Decanter.com.
‘We have been carrying out massale selection in our plots in Aÿ since 1980. From 1996 all our vintage champagnes have been made from 100% of our own grapes, with none bought from outside growers.
‘Around 80 hectares of our 240 hectares of grapes – almost entirely for Cristal Louis Roederer – are grown biodynamically and organic farming is used for the rest. This is a logical part of that process’.
In 2013, Roederer selected a site in Bouleuse, near Reims, to plant American rootstocks on which massale selections from their own vineyards will be grafted. This means within the next year or two they will be able to plant young vines that have wholly been grown in their own sites, without using an external vineyard nursery.
‘It’s a major advantage to have our own young vines which should be of exceptional quality, and as far as we know Roederer is the only Champagne house to be doing this,’ Lecaillon said.
The Champagne house is also growing young vines without American rootstocks, using grapevines from before the Phylloxera crisis ‘to see if there is a difference in taste’.