“With a drop of Champagne, you can change your own universe”. – Phillippe Stark
Hurray for Champagne Friday! On this blustery day, we are celebrating Champagne Friday with Louis Roederer Brut Nature Philippe Starck. It was Tom Bird, who first wanted to use Roederer’s Philippe Starck champagne for Champagne Friday and we have had the bottles in the office since before lockdown. Our first day back in the office since March was Tuesday 22nd September (coincidentally also the last as we are back to working from home again) and it was the perfect opportunity to host our tasting, albeit a bit early. It is the second time we have a Roederer Champagne, as we did the 2012 Brut Vintage in March as the second-ever Champagne Friday.
Roederer hardly needs an introduction. It is famous for making Cristal and unique among the Grande Marque Champagne houses for farming all of its vineyards organically (and over 50% of their vineyards are farmed biodynamically (with an aim to convert to 100%)). The inaugural vintage of Starck Brut Nature was 2006, but it all began in 2003 with a hot vintage that was both problematic and yet showed the potential of the more clay-based vineyards. It encouraged Roederer to carry out unusual experimental bottlings, and so Starck Brut Nature was founded with an unusual concept ‘to make a fresh cuvée from clay soils in a sunny year’ that stylistically is ‘honest, minimal, diagonal and modern’. They approached French designer Philippe Starck to design the label, but he would only agree to this if he could be involved in crafting the concept and the content. As an avid Champagne fan, he insisted that the Champagne that carried his name (and label design), would always be bone-dry as he finds it ‘more elegant and purer’. And so a collaboration started. The champagne is drawn exclusively from Roederer’s ten-hectare biodynamic vineyard in Cumières and is a field blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. In a departure from their usual micro-vinification, the grapes are co-harvested, co-pressed and co-fermented in the manner of their forefathers. The result is pure and crystalline champagne that pulses with energy. 2012 is the third release of Louis Roederer Brut Nature Philippe Starck Blanc and their only inaugural vintage of the Rosé, so obviously we had to try both and thus are celebrating Champagne Friday with both Champagnes.
The Brut Nature Range of Roederer stands in stark contrast to the other Roederer wines. Roederer is famed for an underlying richness and toastiness with often an exotic note, yet Starck is modern, pure, mineral and fresh. There is usually a noticeable RS on Roederer (usually 7.5-9gr/l), whereas the Philippe Starck range is bone dry. Yet, it also is a true reflection of Roederer as a Champagne house that tries to reflect the terroir of Champagne, which it has done uniquely in this Champagne. CEO Frédéric Rouzaud says “We are not artists. At 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 terroirs”.
Our tasting notes are below. It was such a joy to see each other in the office again, rather than the virtual meetings everyone is getting so used to. Champagne should be shared, and here is a toast to all of us being back in the office soon.
2012 Louis Roederer Brut Nature Philippe Starck
2012 Starck Blanc is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, reflecting its origins in deep and marly clay soils of Cumières. A low yielding and challenging vintage, 2012 was saved by a hot August, which resulted in rich, full-bodied and age-worthy Champagnes. With Starck Blanc, you see a lovely contrast between the bone-dry and laserbeam-precise feel (this is a zero dosage fizz) with ripe, warm and candied fruit. Let the Champagne wallow on your palate, and you’ll find a wonderful salinity with peaches, baked apples, and spice leading to nutty and toasty notes. Typical of Roederer, there is a delicate and fine mouse and pleasing elegance to the wine, which finishes fresh and pure. A Champagne to savour and enjoy as it matures in the cellar, yet one you’ll find exceedingly drinkable and enjoyable now. Enjoy. – Tom Bird
2012 Louis Roederer Brut Nature Rosé Philippe Starck
What a treat to taste the inaugural vintage of this cuvée! Tasting the Brut Nature range for the first time was a huge surprise as it stands in contrast to many of the Roederer Champagnes yet with some defining Roederer signatures. There is laser-sharp precision, with sufficient richness to balance the ultra-dry style. The nose is gorgeous with dried floral notes (chamomile) and almost floral spice of Sichuan pepper, which follows through on the palate. It is textural, though taut and with vinous notes of wild strawberries and rose on the mid-palate and finishing on a gentle smoky note. It would be wonderful with sea bass carpaccio or canapes. – Sara Guiducci
2012 Louis Roederer Brut Nature Philippe Starck @ £330 per 6 bottle case IB
2012 Louis Roederer Brut Nature Rosé Philippe Starck @ £165 per 3 bottle case IB
Offered in bond and subject to availability. E & OE