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French Champagne superpower Louis Roederer watched and waited as other Champagne houses rushed to Napa and Sonoma. When the time was right, Roederer went to...The Anderson Valley? Record scratch. Surprisingly, this foggy valley in Mendocino proved to be the world's best sparkler territory outside of Champagne, and this bottle of L'Ermitage is not just America's best bubbly, it's a staggering achievement for any producer.
About the wine
Ultra-deluxe stuff. Flavors of ginger-apricot tart, hazelnut, cinnamon and vanilla brioche all course along smoothy on this wine's perfectly creamy texture. As Roederer's top wine, no expense is spared. Only free-run juice from the vintage's top grapes is used. Despite the painstaking effort, L'Ermitage remains the best-kept secret in sparkling wine. How can a Wine of the Year with repeat Top 100 appearances be a secret? Well, the wine's reputation is mostly held by journalists and sommeliers. It's a painstaking wine to craft, taking years of aging to properly mellow, but when it's released, it is completely gobbled up by restaurants and small retail. This is a rare chance to stock up, otherwise, you'll have to fill up the gas tank and drive up to Roederer's beautiful winery.
Winemaker: Arnaud Weyrich & the Roederer blending team, 4 winemakers with a combined 130 years experience
Appellation: Anderson Valley
- 95 pts, Wine Enthusiast (#36 in Wine Enthusiast's 100 of 2015)
- 97 pts, Wine Enthusiast (2004 and 2006 Vintages)
- 96 pts, Wine Enthusiast (2003 and 2005 Vintages)
- Wine of the Year, 2005 Vintage
- 4.2/5.0, Vivino Users, 2007 Vintage
Grapes: 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir
Vineyards: Roederer Estate Vineyard
Cooperage: Extended aging: Reservice wines which make up the base are aged for 5 years in French Oak.
About the winery
When Champagne Louis Roederer's “Cristal” wine was made the preferred house wine of Russian Czar Alexander II, the winery's fame was forever etched in history. Later on, Cristal became the signature drink of a new generation of the celebrities. All along, the winery has maintained supreme quality for over two hundred years, making their reputation on the vast supplies of aged reserve wine which gives Roederer its exotic patisserie tastes. Established in 1982, one of the first tasks for Roederer Estate was to begin to build an Anderson stash of older wines. These early wines would age and later provide the je ne sais quoi to Roederer's early blends, and the running supply of older wine keeps Roederer's rank at the very top. The winery's commitment to excellence requires them to take a long view, but the results speak for themselves.
About the vineyard
Roederer Estate and the Anderson Valley were practically made for each other. The appellation’s exquisite combination of cool climate, oceanic proximity, and well-draining soil provide the perfect setting for the winery to plant their estate vines. The mélange of conditions naturally induces the kind of slow, deliberate grape maturation that leads to fruit that can barely contain its varietal character underneath their skin. Because the vines are estate-owned, the winery freely deploys its own legendary discernment to each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape carefully harvested, eschewing grapes that would make the cut in other wineries. The remarkably high standard set at each harvest results in cuvees that are second to none in the Golden State.
About the winemaker, Arnaud Weyrich
Arnaud Weyrich began his career as a lowly intern – in 1993, he was given a chance to head to America and support Champagne Roederer's new and unproven Anderson Valley winery. When his internship was up, head winemaker Michel Salgues worked hard to retain this hard-working and diligent young man. Alas, Weyrich returned home (he did have a girlfriend waiting, after all...). Years later, Weyrich's career in retail has blossomed, but he had felt a sense of unfinished business with the bubbles. Roederer was still interested, and brought him back to run Roederer Estate. He pioneered some atypical techniques which changed Roederer's style from lean and mean to extravagant and opulent. Immediately, the world took notice and Weyrich's wines vaulted up the rankings. Now, just 45 years of age, Arnaud and his family live on the Anderson Valley property, as he dreams up new ways to improve the vineyard, improve the wines, and most of all, how to deal with exploding demand. Although his wines are becoming quite prized and rare, it's a pleasure to see a great winemaking talent elevate the art form.
95 pts - Wine Enthusiast (2007)
Very fruity and fresh in aroma, this elegant wine has light, crisp apple and lemon flavors, fresh-baked bread accents and lively acidity. A layered texture seems to blend in accents of almond and vanilla, increasing complexity with each sip. It’s one of California’s bluechip bubblies.
97 pts - Wine Enthusiast (2006)
“All the benefits of maturity come through in this deliciously complex flagship sparkling wine of the French-owned estate. It shows very minute, slow-rising bubbles and a beautiful bouquet of ginger, cinnamon, cherry and fresh croissants. The flavors are layered, intricate, subtle but somehow rich. A lush and seemingly soft texture is supported by fresh acidity that encourages a long and delicate finish. Mature, but not old, it should be great through 2020 or longer.”
96 pts - Wine Enthusiast (2005)
"This impressive bubbly has apple, caramel and toffee aromas, melt-in-the-mouth Bosc pear and spice rack flavors, a rich but firm texture, and long finish. It possesses amazing liveliness, body and depth, and seems to reveal more nuances and freshness with each sip. While terrific to drink now, it can be cellared through at least 2020."
97 pts and Wine of the Year - Wine Enthusiast (2004)
“This is an exquisite sparkling wine made from 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir, concocted into a special blend and aged for almost six years in oak cask. After disgorgement it was given another five months to sit in bottle before release. It has such freshness on the palate, such enviable acidity, that it’s hard to believe the grapes were picked so long ago. Crisp apple dominates, with just a trace of yeastiness on the nose and palate. This is a delicious wine.”