Louis Roederer Cristal, the first Prestige Cuvée, was created in 1876 for Tsar Alexander II of Russia. One hundred and thirty-four years later, it remains faithful to its origin' inspired by elegance, purity, and precision. "It is a blue sky, without any clouds," says Cellar Master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon.
Cristal is wine made exclusively from grapes grown in Louis Roederer's Grand Crus vineyards. The Pinot Noir comes from the villages of Verzenay, Verzy, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ; and the chardonnay from Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize, Cramant and Oger. The oldest vineyards with the deepest root-system are selected to make Cristal; they produce lower yields, more concentration and aromatic wines with high maturity and high acidity. Twenty percent of the wines are matured in oak casks with weekly batonnage. There is no malolactic fermentation. The wines undergo an average of five years maturation in cellars and rest eight months on the cork after disgorgement to perfect its maturity. Dosage of between 8 and 10 g/l is adapted to each vintage.
Cristal 2004 - a highly seductive vintage reminiscent of the classic 1988 - has a slender, almost living freshness. Highly contemporary in its harmony and immediate seductiveness, it nevertheless remains first and foremost a great classic of northern Champagne, combining freshness, energy and an almost chalky mineral quality. The Cristal hallmarks are evident: purity, precision and the unique harmony of flavors associated with the subtle power of our historic vines, located on the finest Champagne Grand Cru terroirs.
"Brilliant yellow color displaying light amber nuances, combined with an ultra-fine, persistent, soft effervescence. There's an intense, highly expressive bouquet on the first nose! The aromatic elegance and precision of Chardonnay is apparent: white fruit, sweet pollen, fine citrus fruit and very pure minerality. After a few minutes, the aromas move on to more confit, lightly grilled hints. The bouquet is rich and sweet, almost generous, remaining precise and impeccably refined. The bite in the mouth is full and creamy, revealing an incredible concentration of juicy fruits: yellow peach, apricot, mango and others. This silky, meaty concentration, which is both dense and soft - and typical of great pinot noirs - is immediately combined with a sophisticated touch of acidity, bringing the wine alive with minerality. The overriding impression is one of a true harmony of flavors, senses and silky textures...Absolute sensuality." - Jean Baptiste Lécaillon, Cellar Master.
This was a characteristically dry, warm year with outbreaks of heavy rain. The vintage was marked by the outstanding quality of the grapes, registering a degree of alcohol content rarely achieved in Champagne. Highlights included an early-maturing year brought about by dry soil conditions that accelerated ripening; work in the vineyards to improve the quality of the yield; targeted manuring at the start of the season; pruning to restrict yields; crown suckering of fruit-bearing shoots to remove excess clusters; green harvesting over a total 20 ha area; sunny conditions throughout the month of September.
These conditions allowed us to start harvesting on 12 September in the Côte des Blancs, September 13 in the Marne Valley, and 16 September in the Montagne de Reims. Harvesting in each vineyard sector lasted 13 days. From the beginning of the harvest, grapes registered 11-12.2º alcohol with a consistent acidity level of 7 g/l. Average yield of 12.280 kg/ha, overall productivity targets. The quality of the grapes was remarkable throughout the vineyard.
Serve at a temperature of 46°F to 50°F. The strength and finesse of Cristal are perfectly suited to delicate foods. It is a flattering accompaniment to caviar, fish and shellfish such as scallops, John Dory, lobster and crayfish.