Louis Roederer’s prestige cuvée was first produced in 1876 for a particular client of the Maison—Alexander II, Tzar of Russia.
Arguably the first prestige cuvée, the story goes that Tzar Alexander II wanted to see the bubbles in the bottle and make sure there were no explosives hidden therein. In order to make a clear glass bottle that could withstand the pressure of the wine, the glassblower flattened the bottom. Or, was that so enterprising assassins couldn’t hide their explosives under the punt? Who is to say? No matter. Today, the threats are more celestial (though less dramatic), which explains the loud orange cellophane wrap—this is actually anti-UV protection.
For the uninitiated, Cristal may seem like ‘water for Oligarchs’ but the wine itself is, quite simply, sublime. It ranks amongst the world’s great wine tasting experiences and, by comparison to the ‘haut vins’ of Bordeaux and Burgundy, is still relatively affordable and accessible.
Roughly a half/half blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the fruit from the very best vines in Co^te des Blancs, Montagne de Reims, and the Vallée de la Marne. The vine age is 25 years at a minimum while some are as old as 60 years. Low yielding, remarkably, Louis Roederer's vineyards are mostly farmed biodynamic.
Slightly oxidative and reductive in style, Cristal is built not just to age or to last, but to improve. Older vintages still show remarkable freshness. Notes on tasting tend to start at the top of a pyramid of complexity. So when a note of citrus is detected, further scrutiny will reveal juice, pith and/or zest of lemons, grapefruit, lime and/or orange (though the last might be suggested by the colour of the cellophane). Fruits and toast on the nose, richness and creamy honeyed characters on the palate.
From the 2012 vintage, Cristal is produced with 100% biodynamic fruit.
Cristal is the Champagne of Champagne.
If a wine could ever make you want to pull the top down on your '68 Ferrari convertible, rip off the rearview mirror and take off, this is it. It has a different kind of energy than the '02 Cristal Rose, which is more ethereal, like strawberries at the right hand of some ancient Gallic god. This is more insolent, brash, earthbound. All the scents and flavours seem to emanate from limestone, as does the acidity, which hits at the front of the mouth and powers through the wine with the kind of solar energy that lifts mist off the white chalk on a cool morning in Cramant. The wine goes on for miles. It's already irresistible, and will only improve with 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of age. 100 points, Wine & Spirits.
This is an exceptional wine, as is the vintage. The fruits -- grapefruit, crisp red apple -- balance with a fine yeasty character. There is a great depth of flavour, the fruits going in a pure line of freshness. 98 points, Wine Enthusiast.
Subtle notes of pears, flowers, spices, mint, minerals and oak are woven into a cashmere-like frame of extraordinary grace and elegance. This beautifully-sculpted Champagne possesses notable clarity but with the additional depth of fruit that is characteristic of this vintage. It is a gorgeous, seductive Cristal of the highest level. In 2002, Cristal is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay with 10 grams of dosage. 20% of the wine was fermented in oak. 96 points, erobertparker.com
...this wine has a crisp, chalky, lightly citrussy, lightly toasty aroma that is more than a little bit suggestive of an elegant Blanc de Blancs. And perhaps that is its secret. It is an incredibly refined yet deep wine whose suggestions of roasted soy and caramel are kept as complex nuances within a well-filled, refreshing, crisp set of flavors and a graceful, lengthy aftertaste. It occupies a comfortable middle ground between the quiet refinement of Dom Perignon and the bold approaches of the top Bollinger and Krug wines. 96 points, Connoisseur's Guide.
A suave customer, with hints of citrus, berry and coffee. Harmonious and refined, with freshness and a bright structure. The finish shows a lot of potential, with a mouthwatering aftertaste. Drink through 2030. 92 points, Wine Spectator.
Located 150 km east of Paris, Champagne is the French wine region renowned for producing the finest, most rich and complex sparkling wines in the world. The elegance, longevity and racy acidity of these wines are attributed to the influence of the chalky soils of the region and the cool, marginal continental climate. The region spans an area of 35,000 ha and has 4 main growing areas, each favouring one of the three noble Champagne varieties; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne has a vineyard quality hierarchy based on the soils, aspect and overall quality of the grapes. Like Burgundy, these quality designations are allocated to the vineyards of the village. Of the 319 villages of Champagne, 17 have Grand Cru status and 44 villages are designated Premier Cru. All Champagne is produced by Traditional Method. The vast majority of Champagne is a blend of the three varieties and may also be a blend of several vintages producing the popular Non Vintage (NV) house styles. Top quality blends from exceptional years are sold as Vintage (Millésime) Champagne.