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Hand in hand with nature

Respect for nature and combating climate change are fundamental to producing superb champagne

Champagne Louis Roederer was established in 1776 and today is in the hands of the seventh generation of the family. For them, “Hand in hand with nature” is not simply a tag line, it is the philosophy that underpins all the work undertaken at Roederer.

Unlike many champenois, Louis Roederer own all their own vineyards, which means each vintage cuvée they make is exclusively made from estate-grown grapes. Their vineyards are their lifeblood and the soil is in their DNA. Its health is therefore of paramount importance.

Sustainable farming

For two decades the maison have dedicated themselves to researching and implementing, first organic farming practices throughout their entire 240-hectare estate and then a gradual conversion to biodynamic farming methods which currently accounts for 50 per cent of their vineyards.

Eschewing chemicals, channelling  the power of the moon and listening to nature, their farming philosophy is inspired by permaculture and other farming practices that respect the living world and in which the ecosystem adjusts its balance.

They work in collaboration with nature, which allows them to harness its strength, and reflect its complex beauty and energy, rather than bending it to their will.

Roederer is the most innovative large producer in Champagne right now, and its superb wines are just getting better and better – Elin McCoy, Bloomberg 2018

This fundamental respect for nature, the soil, the climate and the vine, has been driven by a desire to hand the land on to the eighth generation of the family in a stronger and healthier state than before.

They are stewards of the land, not masters, and as a result of this commitment, Roederer have become leading lights in the sustainability movement in Champagne. In 2017, Louis Roederer officially became an Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (living heritage business); sustainability is woven into the fabric of their company.

Climate crisis

This intimate observance of nature has opened their eyes to the reality of climate change, described by the chef de cave Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon as a “climate crisis”.

It has driven them to look at developing methods of farming that will strengthen the vines own ability to resist the results of an increasingly erratic climate, such as drought, hail damage or mildew, as well as to maintain the grapes freshness in the face of warming temperatures.

This research and implementation is absolutely fundamental to maintaining the quality of champagne.

Reactive farming only leads to further human intervention, whereas proactive viticultural changes and a forward-thinking mentality reduces the imprint of humans on the land. It is a return to the farming methods of our ancestors in the days before agri-chemicals, coupled with a far greater scientific understanding of the biology of the soils, the vines and the grapes, which has enabled these transitions to more respectful methods of farming.

Massal selection, gentle pruning, allowing the land to lie fallow and the use of biodynamic composts have all enhanced the health of the soils and the vine, and as a result the quality of the champagne at Roederer.

Carbon footprint

Although quality is a driving force for sustainable developments in the vineyards, wider concerns for the environment are also a critical motivator. Man’s impact on the warming temperatures and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are undeniable on reading the meticulously maintained records of each vintage held at Roederer for the last 243 years.

An awareness of, and subsequent reductions in, their carbon footprint, as well as waste and water recycling, are all key tenants in the operations of the maison. Some 90 per cent of waste is now recycled and the last ten years have seen a reduction of 25 per cent in carbon emissions per bottle.

It is an ongoing project to continuously reduce their carbon footprint on the environment. In the words of chief executive Frédéric Rouzaud: “We must constantly be thinking in terms of sustainable, long-term innovation.”

For more information please visit www.louis-roederer.com

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