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Thierry Wallaert of Louis Roederer Champagne

Posted: Thursday, 10 November 2016 14:36


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Passing By: Thierry Wallaert of Louis Roederer Champagne

Nov 10: Thierry Wallaert, Export Area Manager of Louis Roederer Champagne House was in Delhi earlier last week when he conducted a champagne Masterclass at JW Marriott attended by journalists, Sommeliers, and F & B personnel of a few restaurants, as well as the tasting of 3 champagnes including the iconic Cristal 2007. Subhash Arora reports

Click For Large ViewWhen I got the invite to attend last Wednesday on November 9, a champagne Masterclass with Thierry Wallaert, Export Area Manager Louis Roederer Champagne House in Reims,my thoughts transported me instantly to the Cristal Wine Dinner in November 2010 of the Delhi Wine Club, 6 years ago whenFrederic Heidsieck, Global Sales Director and Damien Motte, Export Director of Louis Roederer, had visited India together. Their importer Brindco had then organised the dinner with Cristal wines. To this day, the members who attended that dinner paying only Rs. 1700 a person, reminisce about the evening and more specifically the Cristal 2002 and 2004 and an opportunity to  chat with the top marketing  duo from Roederer.

Heidsieck of Louis Roederer Champagne

Motte had already made his maiden visit to promote Louis Roederer Champagne in September 2008 when Brindco had organised a tasting at Shangri-la, of a range of products from the company including a Cristal 2002 where wines from some of the other properties was also tasted. For a full report on Cristal and the evening and wines tasted, please visit:

Wine Tastings: Cristal and All That Rap

Champagne Masterclass

Tasting or drinking Cristal is always tempting and a treat. I also knew about the Louis Roederer Zero Dosage Brut Nature 2009 released last month. So I could not resist the invitation despite the worst polluted day in the Capital city.

‘The Louis Roederer House is an independent, family-owned company managed by Frédéric Rouzaud representing the seventh generation of the family with annual exports of over three million bottles around the world,’ said Thierry Wallaert as he went through his Power-point presentation to a full house at Akira Back where the Beverage Director Ankur Chawla had a perfect set-up for the Masterclass.  

‘Our vineyards are located in three of the Champagne districts- Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, and Côte des Blancs, providing the diversity of these sites in our champagnes. Like many other Champagne Houses, Louis Roederer cultivates all the 3 traditional grape varieties- Chardonnay for minerality, finesse and elegance; Pinot Noir for structure and ageing while Pinot Meunier brings harmony and softness when used judiciously,’ added Thierry.

Blanc de Blancs- Satèn of Champagne

I have always liked the Blanc de Blancs made with  from Roederer with elegance, finesse and the feeling of a slightly light and bouncy wine on the palate what with no malolactic fermentation. I had not known before that the pressure inside the bottle made solely from Chardonnay, has been reduced from the usual 6 atmospheric pressure to around 4.5 bars to make it softer and balanced with bubbles not as aggressive, as Thierry explained in his presentation.

This brought to mind the similarity in the concept of ‘Satèn’ in Franciacorta in Italy where it is the legal definition of Blanc de Blancs using Chardonnay and/ or Pinot Bianco grapes when the pressure inside the bottle should be 4.5 Bars as compared to the normal 6 Bars.  

Roederer Brut Nature 2006

Thierry said that everyone in Louis Roederer, especially the owner Frédéric Rouzaud who collaborated with the Paris-based French designer Philippe Starck to curate this new label was very proud of this maiden vintage, released only a couple of years ago. The idea originated from the hot summer of 2003 when Roederer decided to make champagne with reduced dosage of about 6 gms/ liter. The House had already reduced the dosage from the earlier 12 gms/liter to 9 gms/ liter and wanted to bring it down further to close to zero to make a perfect and ‘pure’ champagne-not an easy task since the small amount of sugar present in the liquid helps it from getting oxidised.

The hand-harvested, bio-dynamically cultivated grapes-Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from the same particular plot in the Marne Valley are crushed together on the same day. Care is taken that they are perfectly ripe grapes from a warm, dry year. There was no Brut Nature in 2007 or 2008. The company was not sure if it would release Brut Nature 2009 but decided to release it last month.

The pressure inside the bottle has also been kept to 5.5 bars instead of the usual 6 bars to keep the bubbles softer and not aggressive.

Cristal Rose Brut  

‘Brut Nature has been the first new product since Cristal Rose Brut was launched in 1974 by Frederic’s father Jean-Claude Rouzaud. The Rose is a blend of around 55% Pinot noir and 45% Chardonnay, comprising 20% of wine matured in oak turns’, said Thierry. Cristal Rosé is produced using the saignée (bleeding) process after cold maceration. The Cristal Rosé cuvée is aged, on average, for 6 years on the lees. A very small quantity is produced every year- usually 300-350,000 bottles of Cristal Brut are produced. But for every 10 bottles of Brut produced only one bottle Brut Rose is produced.

Incidentally, Champagne Roederer’s Cristal Rosé 2004 was named Supreme World Champion in last year’s Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2015 (CSWWC)  held at London.

Other Jewels in Roederer Crown

Before concluding his Masterclass Thierry talked a little about the other jewels in Roederer’s crown- Domain Anderson in Anderson Valley North California (2012) and the Second Growth Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac (2007) are the latest acquisitions. Earlier, they had bought the Port producer Ramos Pinto (1990), Haut- Beausejour in St. Estephe (1992), Champagne Deutz which also owned Delas Freres in Northerer Rhone Valley (1993). Chateau de Pez in St. Estephe was purchased in 1995, followed by the well-known historic Bordeaux Négociant Maison Descaves- in a partnership in 2000, but making it a complete subsidiary in 2014. Domaines Ott in Provence which also owned Scharffenberger Cellars in Anderson Valley was added in 2004. He emphasised that all the acquisitions have one common philosophy- they are family run companies that continue to be run by the existing managements and have similar values on quality and management.

Jay Z Rapper Episode

Click For Large ViewLike the previous two visitors from the House of Cristal, Thierry was in no mood to entangle himself in the Jay Z episode that had alienated the rapper who was extremely fond of Cristal but boycotted it because of what he thought was a racist slur.

Cristal was the US. rapper community's favourite bubbly during the earlier part of this century but came under a cloud following hip-hop artiste Jay-Z's allegations of racism against the boss of the Champagne house. The boycott came after Frédéric Rouzaud told The Economist that the Champagne house viewed Cristal's association with rap "with curiosity and serenity." Asked if he thought the association would harm the brand, he replied, "That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business."  

Jay-Z Boycotts Cristal Over Roderer MD's Comments

In fact, Jay Z started patronizing Ace of Spades  and eventually bought the label ‘Ace of Spades’ – Armand de Brignac- the champagne is produced by Champagne Cattier. I mentioned in my earlier Article where I also concluded that - as our cricketing legend Kapil Dev would say, ‘Cristal da Jawab Nahin!’ (Cristal has no equal).

There was a lot of bonhomie and a little bit more of the Cristal 2007 to taste/ drink, accompanied by delicious snacks –some of which used Roederer Brut NV jelly in the recipe- a nice finish to a very palatable Masterclass that was as educational as delicious, not necessarily in equal measure.

For related earlier topics and more details about Cristal, visit:

Wine Tastings: Cristal and All That Rap

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Thierry Wallaert, Louis Roederer Champagne House, Cristal 2007, Reims, Frederic Heidsieck, Damien Motte, Louis Roederer, Damien Motte, Louis Roederer Champagne, Brindco, Cristal 2002, Roederer, Louis Roederer Zero Dosage Brut Nature 2009, Frédéric Rouzaud, Akira Back, Ankur Chawla, Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, Satèn, Franciacorta, Blanc de Blancs, Philippe Starck, Marne Valley, Brut Nature 2009, Cristal Rose Brut, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, saignée, Champagne Roederer’s Cristal Rosé 2004, Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2015, Domain Anderson, Anderson Valley North California, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ramos Pinto, Haut- Beausejour, Chateau de Pez , Bordeaux Négociant Maison Descaves, Domaines Ott, Scharffenberger Cellars, Jay Z, Cristal, Ace of Spades, Armand de Brignac, Champagne Cattier


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