22 January 2020

Champagne Friday is here!

When champagne is well made, there is nothing else like it in the world
Frédéric Rouzaud


We started the tradition of Champagne Friday for the first time on Friday the 21st of February. The Champagne was 2008 Taittinger. The concept of Champagne Friday was a way of bringing some friendly fun into the office and share it with our customers. We each look for a Champagne that we would like to drink now and on Champagne Friday we pop the cork on our favourite bottle to share with our colleagues and write a tasting note and offer. The Champagne should have arrived in a customer’s reserve by the next month and so we share our experiences through an ongoing journey.

I will admit that we seriously considered abandoning the idea of Champagne Friday this month. The world has changed a lot since February 21st. Yet, the concept of stopping this tradition on only the second attempt seemed rather sad and also didn’t feel right. When we talked about it as a team, we realised just how important it is to keep this going. In the spirit of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ and in the knowledge that better times are ahead and we want to look forward to celebrating better times, we have decided to continue the concept of Champagne Friday. We were much reminded of the quote by Lily Bollinger “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am.”

We decided on 2012 Roederer Brut about a month ago. In fact, it was around the same time that we decided on the 2008 Taittinger. I tasted the 2012 Roederer blind at a vintage Champagne portfolio tasting and fell immediately in love with it. It is toasty, flamboyant, powerful, utterly delicious and approachable at this point. Like 2008, 2012 is heralded as a great Champagne vintage (every decade should have one) and though very different in style, it seems to share that wonderful characteristic of being delicious early in its life. Unlike 2008, yields in 2012 were very small. I have not tasted many 2012 yet, but from what I have tasted they are bolder and richer in style than the poised 2008’s.

The aim was to drink this Champagne in the office this week with colleagues and then write a tasting note, however two weeks ago when we realised that our office would be closed, and as social distancing became increasingly important, we decided to make plans to pop the cork early. My colleague Tom and I both live in the Oxfordshire countryside and last Friday (20th March) we met on a quiet hill overlooking Goring, each bringing our own glass and maintaining at least 2 meters distance to taste the 2012 Louis Roederer. Peer reviewed tasting notes must continue! It was a strange experience to stay so far apart and the resulting photos look slightly bizarre. It is important to stress that we really upheld every aspect of social distancing. We were outside in a large field while keeping our distance, both bringing our own glassware and travelling in our own cars. We missed the rest of our team and have decided to buy a bottle to share with them when the office re-opens in due course.

A little about Louis Roederer. Famous for making Cristal, Louis Roederer is unique in that it is the only Grande Marque Champagne house that takes organic viticulture very seriously. Many argue that Champagne is too marginal a climate for organic and biodynamic viticulture, yet Roederer is fully organic and over 50% of their vineyards are farmed biodynamically (with an aim to convert to 100%). Unusually for champagne, over 70% of their fruit comes from their own vineyards. In fact, every Louis Roederer vintage originates exclusively from their own vines, which is rare indeed in the Champagne region. All the vineyards are located in the three classic Champagne districts: the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Blancs. In the words of CEO Frédéric Rouzaud “We are not artists. At Maison Louis Roederer, the great artist is Nature and each year we are the interpreters of what she wants to give us. Our job is to take part in this choreography between Man and Nature in order to reveal the great Champagne terrorist.”

Our tasting notes are below

There is something extra-ordinary about tasting this outside. It is magical and the experience is enhanced by the sheer quality and style of this champagne. Difficult to put into words. Its rich notes of toasted hazelnuts are intertwined with smokiness, yet at the same time it is vivid and energetic with citrus notes and a wonderful silky mouthfeel. Clearly it has the ability to age, but I would as happily pop the cork now and enjoy immediately. – Sara Guiducci

Tasting this in my (rather superior!) Zalto flute, this is surprisingly rich for Roederer and shows a gorgeous nuttiness alongside candid pear and dried flowers.  A nuanced and powerful Champagne but with a pleasing creaminess and finesse.  Ready to enjoy now but I suspect it will drink well more 10+ years – Tom Bird

A critic note (with references to winemaking) is below

Roederer’s white golden 2012 Vintage is a classic Millésime. Based on 70% cool-climate Pinot Noir from Verzy and Verzenay (Montagne de Reims) and 30% Chardonnay from a very warm, south/southwest-facing vineyard in Chouilly (Côte des Blancs), the 2012 represents the mineral terroirs of its origins beautifully—pure, refined and fresh. Fermented 8% in oak and with just 16% of the volume having done malolactic fermentation to make the Roederer Vintage Brut a classic gastronomic wine, the 2012 shows a deep, rich and ripe but also fine, precise and elegant chalky nose with hazelnut, toasted almond and blossom flavors. The palate is profound, round, highly elegant and fresh, and the long, remarkably salty finish is very complex and terribly fresh in its persistent mineral expression. This is an impressive, ripe and almost creamy textured but precise and finessed 2012 with power, body and structure. A true, highly stimulating classic. Just love it! Disgorged in January 2017 after four years of bottle aging (dosage: nine grams per liter). Drink 2024 – 2040 94/100 (Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate)

Great bottles have a magical way of marking an occasion. I will forever remember tasting this Champagne for the experience and the time it was tasted. In fact, for most of the great bottles that I have tasted, I distinctly remember the setting they were tasted in. It is this ‘memory bank’ that enriches the tapestry of life and wine is so much a part of that. I am grateful for the memory of tasting and sharing this bottle. I will pop a case in my cellar as a reminder of this extra-ordinary time,  of our second ‘Champagne Friday’ and to ensure we have a bottle to celebrate re-opening the office in the future.

by Sara Guiducci, Head of Private Sales, Stannary Wine


To join us in celebrating Champagne Friday, 2012 Louis Roederer is available to Stannary Customers for a special price of £240 per 6 bottle case in bond.
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