Just a heads up — I’m gonna meander through topics ranging from scotch to climate change in the intro of this review. Click here to skip directly to my Louis Roederer Collection review (I hate those life-story recipe blogs).

Champagne is following in the steps of Scotch. Remember when it was easy to find a 10, 12, 18 year old dram? Brands like Macallan (and Talisker) are going No Age Statement (NAS) to put out scotches quicker (although some distillers claim it enables creative freedom — take that for what you will). Where Scotch is ditching the age statement, Champagne is ditching the “vintage” (the year the grapes were harvested and processed). But unlike whisky, who’s move to NAS is probably a marketing ploy, Champagne houses like Louis Roederer are dropping the vintage for more disturbing reasons — climate change.

With dramatically hotter summers and less reliable rain, putting all your chips on a single harvest is just too dangerous, at least for Louis Roederer. Where in the past they might have to skip a year on occasion, and sell their less-than-ideal grapes to a downmarket producer, now that off-year is becoming the norm. And skipping production years more frequently just doesn’t make business sense.

Louis Roederer Collection 244 bottle and glass.

Thus, dropping the vintage (or at least kepping what’s called a “perpetual reserve”). Louis Roederer’s not the first Champagne house to go with this approach — Krug famously has never put much stock in the vintage gimmick. But they might be the first to drop it because of climate change. And if you thought the early days of climate change were only affecting the very poor and those in coastal regions, nah — when the Champagne producers are feeling it, everyone is feeling it.

Putting aside the apocalyptic undertones, this has lead to the shift from Louis Roederer’s midmarket “Brut Premier” offering transitioning to the “Collection” moniker. The number following it, in our case 244, represents the number of non-vintage offerings Louis Roeder has ever released, since its inception in the 18th century.

Ostensibly, Louis Roeder wants to regain control over their product, storing great vintage wine and augmenting lesser grapes to blend a product that tastes fresh and interesting, regardless of the climate conditions. While in France, I had a chance to try the 244 collection — but does the blending alchemy hold up compared to Louis Roederer’s vintage (or pre-perpetual reseve) offerings?

Louis Roederer Collection 244 Champagne Review

Louis Roederer Collection 244 races out of the gate with fast bubbles, shooting up through its pale straw liquid. It’s a looker in the glass, and definitely one suited for a flute (this will trigger some Champagne nerds in a big way.) On the nose is a veritable fruit salad — big bursts of nectarine, pear, and citrus fruit rush out of the gate and kind of dominate the experience. If you sniff carefully and patiently, i picked up a touch of ozone and “pavement after a rain” note that adds a bit of interest to the cornucopia.

The taste gives more for the fruit fans. There’s a lush, juicy richness to this Louis Roederer, really truly feeling like you’re slurping from one of those fruit cups with syrup — just without the cloying sweetness. Pear is the star of the show here, Bosc pear in particular (my mom serves cheese/honey/Bosc pear app in the summer, and I was intensely reminded of it). There’s just a kiss of breadniness, but its very tame relative to other Champagnes. The finish lets the fruit fade, and opens the door for some of that classic Champagne minerality to round out the sip.

Best part of a French Airbnb is the provided ice bucket

All in all, a damn fine glass of bubbly. This particular Collection is a blend of 41% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 26% Meunier, and I think they all played well in the sandbox together. The relatively rich texture is perfectly carried by the bright effervesence, and if you’re a lover of fruity Champagnes, you’ll be hard to beat this one. I hope the Louis Roederer Collections coming in the future are able to maintain this level of “sip it slow” quality.


Final Verdict

Louis Roederer manages to deliver a great, non-vintage Champagne for its Collection 244 entry. Perfect for fans of fruity Champagne.