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Roederer launches first new Champagne ‘since 1974’

Louis Roederer has launched a Brut Nature Champagne from the 2006 vintage in collaboration with designer Philippe Starck.

Only around 60,000 bottles of the Brut Nature 2006Louis Roederer et Philippe Starck’ have been produced, said Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Roederer’s cellarmaster, during a launch event in central London last night. A single bottle is expected to cost around £65 in the UK. It was on sale for €70 in France this week.

‘The last time we created a new [Champagne] was in 1974, when we produced Cristal Rose,’ said Roederer’s managing director, Frederic Rouzaud.

Brut Nature is the dryest Champagne style, signifying that there is only up to 3g per litre residual sugar in the wine. While the style is popular among Champagne winemakers themselves, its consumer appeal has frequently been debated.

Lecaillon said he set out to make a low dosage Champagne, but ended up adding no sugar at all due to the quality of the fruit. ‘To do zero dosage, you need rich fruit. You need ripeness.’

Starck also favoured zero dosage, having only agreed to design the label and put his name on it if he had some say in the winemaking.

Several critics reacted positively to the Brut Nature 2006 after a first sip at last night’s event. ‘It’s a very good wine,’ said Champagne expert and Decanter contributor Michael Edwards. ‘But it’s definitely for food.’

All the grapes come from 10 hectares of south facing, biodynamically-farmed vineyards in Cumieres. The wine contains 56% Pinot Noir and also Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

But, Lecaillon said he aimed to neuter the varietal differences. All the grapes were picked on the same day and pressed together. ‘I didn’t want any varietal taste. The idea was to eliminate the varietal characters and let the terroir speak,’ he said.

It can’t be done every year, due to vintage variation. Lecaillon said he thought 2009 would be the next release.
Official stockists have not been announced, but several UK merchants and retailers were represented in person last night, including Hedonism and Berry Bros & Rudd.

Written by Chris Mercer

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