Have you ever heard of Camille Olry-Roederer? The surname, at least, probably rings a bell. And that’s because Camille Olry-Roederer was the great-grandmother of Champagne house Louis Roederer’s current CEO, Frédéric Rouzaud. She’s also the namesake of the bubbly brand’s latest collection of single-vineyard still wines.
But we’ll get back to the wines. First, a little more about Camille. Determined and exuberant, she took the helm of the family-run Champagne house in 1932, after the passing of her husband, Léon. A force to be reckoned with, she steered Louis Roederer through the Second World War — and ensured that, rather than buckling under considerable financial strain, the brand emerged stronger than ever into the 1950s.
Today, Frédéric Rouzaud has unveiled a still wine collection to honour his great-grandmother, fondly named ‘Hommage à Camille’. It’s a collection that encapsulates everything Camille stood for — experimentation, innovation and an unswerving vision for the future. Legend has it that she would invite her most loyal customers around for dinner and played with culinary convention: serving multi-vintage bruts with aperitifs, and then springing a still wine on those unsuspecting guests with the meal itself.
This collection from Louis Roederer is aptly adventurous — and the perfect way to honour Camille Olry-Roederer’s legacy. Below, we’ve taken a closer look at the two new bottles, available from May.
The 'Camille Charmont 2018' is a rich, textured red
Louis Roederer prides itself on a unique vinification process; one tuned to the rhythms of the natural world. Think rich organic soil, gentle pruning and a thriving biodiversity. And the ‘Camille Charmont 2018’, a 100% Pinot Noir, is the rich, rewarding fruit of Louis Roederer’s closely nutured relationship with its vines.
From a half-acre plot nestled in the Charmont lieu-dit in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, this superlative wine began its journey to the bottle on vines grown in direct sunlight. Champagne grapes are usually kept in the shade — so this wine was distinguished above its drinking fellows before the grapes were even crushed.
But the biggest difference? Its stillness. Champagne is structured by bubbles, but this rich, dark red is fizz-free, structured instead by supple tannins that call back to its earthy origins. The result? A delicately flavourful wine, infused with concentrated sunshine.
'Camille Charmont 2018' Red
The 'Camille Volibarts 2018' is a crisp, clean Chardonnay
Louis Roederer’s close and personal relationship with the natural world culminated in a hunt for the best possible, most mineral-rich hillside in Champagne. And it is here that the family has created this singular single-vineyard still white wine. From an ancient 1.5-acre plot in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger — where the vines grow much slower in the chalky soil — this fresh, elegant Chardonnay has sprung.
Thanks to vinification — wherein the smaller clusters of grapes, harvested much later than usual, are crushed by foot — and other unique processes, this is unlike any Chardonnay you’ve ever tasted. It was aged, over eight months, in three different receptacles (sandstone, stainless steel and oak). And the resulting wine is fit for the most discerning, sophisticated palate.
The complex winemaking processes each bring something unique to the wine. There’s the crisp, clean clarity — all thanks to the sandstone. Next comes the indubitable freshness, for which the stainless steel can take praise. And, finally, that traditional oak lends the wine a subtly spicy note, while the moreish saline finish reflects the chalky soils of Champagne.
Camille Volibarts 2018: Chardonnay
Act fast, as this is an exclusive, limited edition
Described by Cellar Master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon as the product of “innovation, freedom and terroir”, this new collection is the triumphant result of the Coteaux Champenois project, which started all the way back in 2000 when Louis Roederer was seeking to explore, experiment and source new expressions of terroir.
But be wary; there are currently 80 bottles of the Pinot Noir available in the UK, and 120 of the Chardonnay. Time, then, is well and truly of the essence. The wines will be available in prestige retailers (including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Hedonism) from May, so we’d recommend preparing to pounce as soon as they appear on the shelves. And if you are lucky enough to land a bottle, raise a glass to Camille Olry-Roederer; the creative inspiration behind decades of magnificent wine.