Louis Roederer Brut Premier
Firm acidity and a zesty bead create a snappy frame for the flavors of ripe cherry, honeysuckle and smoke in this lively, accessible Champagne. Drink now.
Roederer's nonvintage cuvée is ripe and bright. The acidity and clean white-fruit flavors show strongly, allied to a tangy texture. It is a little drier than previous bottlings, a product of the ripe fruit that needed less dosage. Drink now.
Roederer's NV Brut Premier is a classic and blends about 40% Pinot Noir (from Bouzy and Ambonnay), with 20-25% Meunier (whose share is declining in this blend) and Chardonnay. Two-thirds of the grapes come from estate vineyards, one-third is purchased. (Mind you that all the other Roederer cuvées are sourced exclusively form their own vineyards!) The newest release of the Premier is based on 75% 2009 and 25% reserve wines, which are, since 1996, single vintage wines aged in large oak casks between 6,000 and 10,000 liters. Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon holds 160 vats of reserve wines that are stored blank, so without lees, which otherwise would dominate the taste, says Lécaillon. "I don't like the reductive yeast flavors. Instead I am searching for a slightly oxidative and oaky style in my reserve wine." Lécaillon's youngest Premier did not undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine opens very bright, precise and refined, with toasty and white chocolate flavors. Absolutely delicate and elegant on the palate, this is a light, silky textured and remarkably finesse-full Champagne that is fresh on the palate, thanks to its structure and slightly oaky flavors. Excellent.
The NV Brut Premier is bold, powerful and intense. Hazelnut, smoke, dried pear, mint and savory herbs are all pushed forward. In this release, the Brut Premier is a bit brash and unpolished, with less of its typical finesse. Let's just say I was not surprised to scan the back label and learn that this release is based on the 2011 vintage. Even Roederer could not overcome the significant challenges presented by the 2011 vintage.