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Delhi Wine Club
Heidsieck of Louis Roederer Champagne

Posted: Monday, 29 November 2010 10:27

Heidsieck of Louis Roederer Champagne

The Imperial Hotel in Delhi saw the presence of Frederic Heidsieck, Global Sales Director and Damien Motte Export Director of Louis Roederer, both of whom might have been eclipsed by the Cristal Champagnes served at the exclusive dinner attended by the czarist-members of the Delhi Wine Club recently, writes Subhash Arora.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Motte had made his maiden visit to promote Louis Roederer Champagne in September 2008 when the importer Brindco had organised a tasting at Shangri-la in Delhi, of a range of products from the company including a Cristal 2002 but this was the first visit on behalf of the company by Frederic Heidsieck

If his name confuses you a little, you are a champagne connoisseur. Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck are two popular labels along with the Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top-all of which stem from the legendry German entrepreneur Charles Heidsieck who made the Americans fall in love with his champagnes so much that he came to be known as Champagne Charlie. You might also be confused by his name since the current owner of the pedigreed Champagne House is his name sake-Frederic (Rouzaud)

Heidsieck , who holds an MBA from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in the heart of the Champagne region, presented not only the Brut NV  and a Vintage Cuvee but the highlight of the champagne dinner evening were the iconic Cristal 2004 and 2002 which was also the protagonist at the tasting in 2008 and seems to have gotten better, smoother and creamier.
Talking about the Louis Roederer Champagne, he went through the family history and the types of Champagnes being produced by the company which is known for the special Cristal (he believes it is much better than Dom Perignon) initially for the Russian czars- Romanoff family in 1876 and thus introducing the oldest prestige cuvee. The company was founded a century earlier in 1776 (the year US became independent). 

In an interesting anecdote, he related how the czar was scared of bombs inside the bottles and forced the company to introduce a special, clear bottle without any punt. The first bottle made from the famous Baccarat crystal exploded as the pressure of 5,5-6 Bars was too strong for it. The second bottle was flat and much thicker. He also explained that the dosage was much higher those days- 3 to 4 times that of today with the bubbly at around 11-12 gms of sugar/liter. (very slightly sweet but still Brut-under 15 gms/l)

He was quite eloquent about the Cristal 02 which he termed as the top vintage-well balanced with fruit. The Cristal 2004 is younger but fruitier but may not last as long as the 2002 Vintage- the 2003 was a hot vintage and the wine that was tasted in 2008 but was not in the tasting list this time. 

Frederic confined himself to talking about Champagnes this evening-perhaps because it was a champagne-only dinner. He did not mention that Roederer was born and had  set up base only for the bubbly in the province but the company has gone on quietly acquiring many jewels during its journey through France, USA and Portugal including the second growth from Bordeaux- Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.

Cristal has been a favourite of the Hollywood celebrities including Pamela Anderson who was in the news in India recently. It has also been in the news with the rap stars loving it and then boycotting it. Heidsieck stayed away from the controversies and the topic though he was in the news last month. You may read more about it and the seductive Champagne which makes the Russians cry when Heidsieck talks to them because of the history and which could soon become a darling of the modern day czars of India- bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen, industrialists and Bollywood stars and many of those being fans of the Dom Perignon category.

But one thing is Cristal clear- Cristal may find it difficult to penetrate the market with the extra-ordinary high taxes making it inaccessible. The hotels with duty free license can afford to buy it and make it available but with the unusually high ROI they expect because of their foreign exchange earnings, it will still stay beyond the reach of a majority of even our desi czars.

Cristal and All That Rap



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