This world famous Champagne house known for its early links with the Russian court and for its extensive vineyards ownership was created in 1776 by M. Dubois, L. Roederer joined in 1827 and became sole owner six years later. After 1850, Russia had become the major market for the house, close to 670,000 bottles out of a total production of two-and-a-half million were shipped to Russia in 1873.
Tsar Alexander II commissioned special champagne in a clear crystal bottle to display his wealth and presumably also good taste; since one of the stipulations was that the wine had to be of the highest quality. Cuvee Cristal was thus born! The bottles were strong enough not to require the punt, commonly used for regular champagne bottles to strengthen their structure.
The Russian nobility and army seemed to be addicted to Roederer’s Cuvee Cristal, regardless of price.
The house lost a major market (80 percent) after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Camille Orly-Roederer, widow of the great nephew of Louis rebuilt the company by acquiring 100 percent rated vineyards at bargain prices after a slump in the champagne market. By mid 1990’s, the company owned approximately 200 hectares, supplying 80 percent of the annual grape requirements of the company. This large ownership resulted in two important facts – Roederer could produce the best champagne possible, and it became independent of the whims and prices of suppliers.
In 1993, it acquired 60 percent of Deutz another fine champagne manufacturer that also owns Deals Freres in Cotes du Rhone and Ramos Pinto, the Port shipper in Oporto, Portugal. The company also owns vineyards in Tasmania
(purchased in 1985) with the ultimate goals of producing methode classique sparkling wines form the fine grapes of this region. In addition Roederer produces a very fine sparkling wine from its vineyards in the Alexander Valley near the Pacific Coast in Mendocino county.
Today, Jean-Claude Rozeau, the grandson of Camille Orly-Roederer, runs the company.
Cuvee Cristal has become a famous brand because of its quality, packaging, and marketing. After the market in Russia collapsed, new demand had to be created and it has to be in many different markets.
These days “hip” music world and nightclubs actually generate the highest demand for this outstanding champagne. Demand outstripped production and Cuvee Cristal is sold by allocation. LCBO gets a certain allocation (Approximately 10 cases) which is “pre-sold” to nightclubs catering to “high rollers”.
Crsital consists of 55 percent Pinot Noir, and 45 percent Chardonnay and was made every year since its inception except for 1968 and 1972 when the quality of fruit failed to meet Roederer’s exacting quality standards.
This extraordinary sparkling wine is aged in oak barrels and reaches its peak 10 – 15 years after bottling. Cuvee Cristal; is rare, but rarer still is Cristal rose a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay based wine with a little extra Pinot Noir to give colour.
Jean-Claude Rozaud “the sage de Reims” as he is known is a dignified business savvy gentleman who travels to important markets to see first hand his clientele. He is convinced that a champagne house can produce extraordinary wines only if it owns first class vineyards and plans production with one goal in mind – quality.