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Rouzaud succeeded by son

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jean-Claude Rouzaud, the head of Champagne Louis Roederer since 1979, is retiring and becoming chairman of the company. He is passing control to his son, Frdric, who becomes managing director of the group.After taking a business-management degree and then working in property, Frdric Rouzaud, 38, joined Champagne Louis Roederer in 1996, and for the past 10 years he has worked in various departments as part of his training to take over from his father.

During his time at Roederer, Jean-Claude Rouzaud massively expanded the family company, buying properties across the wine world. A graduate of the Montpellier School of Oenology, Jean-Claude was brought into Champagne Louis Roederer in 1967.

Following periods as technical director and director of production, he inaugurated the era of development and expansion that marked his quarter of a century at the helm of one of the last and most respected family houses in Champagne.

He invested heavily in Roederer's Cave de Rserve, the climate-controlled cellar that houses the reserve wines aged in oak on which his signature Brut Premier non-vintage cuve is based. And in 1982 he founded Roederer Estate in Mendocino County in California, where, using the same reserve-wine principle, he developed Quartet, which is now widely regarded

as one of California's finest sparkling wines.

Jean-Claude took the group into the Douro, buying the Port house of Adriano Ramos-Pinto, again investing heavily in its properties.

In the mid-1990s, two St-Estphe estates were purchased: Chteau Haut-Beausjour and Chteau de Pez - both crus bourgeois. Each has received extensive investment. The principle behind Rouzaud's expansion of Champagne Louis Roederer was to buy family estates with great potential that would benefit from extra investment. As part of this programme, he purchased Champagne Deutz Scharffenberger in California and, more recently, Domaine Ott in Provence.

Because 75% of Champagne Roederer's annual grape requirements come from its own vineyards, with the rest sourced under long-term contracts, Rouzaud fulfilled a unique role between growers and ngociants to such effect that he is known as the Sage of Champagne'.