Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal Vinotheque
July 2023, Stuart Pigott
“An extraordinary champagne experience that you’ll never forget! Tons of white chocolate on the savory nose pulls you into this concentrated and chalky champagne with rich candied citrus and mirabelle fruit. So much oily umami complexity right through the huge breathtakingly vivid finish. Just 10% of each vintage of Cristal gets the extra years of aging for release as Vinotheque. Tasted at the Cristal vertical tasting at the champagne house on July 6th, 2023. Drink or hold.”
In 1876, Tsar Alexander II—already a great lover of Louis Roederer wines—asked Louis Roederer to ‘take the exercise still further‘ and create a cuvée for his personal use which was unique, in terms of both its style and the bottle. Louis Roederer offered him an exceptional crystal bottle, holding the fruit of vines selected from the seven great crus on his estate. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes provide the subtle, precise balance that has now become synonymous with the leading prestige cuvée of Champagne, composed of Grand Crus from the Montagne de Reims, the Marne Valley and the Côte des Blancs.
Cristal Vinothèque radiates the notes of the original Cristal, as well as notes of iodine, salinity and a surprising youthfulness. Not quite the same, but not really different either. More “Cristal” than ever. At the end of a long meditation lasting two decades, combined with late disgorgement and fine-tuning to the point of perfect equilibrium, it emerges as a fresh perspective of champagne, an even more perfect and exciting vision.
Cristal Vinothèque 2002 celebrates the remarkable adventure of just a small number of bottles, laid down for 20 years in the Louis Roederer cellars, in the quest for perfect balance. This cuvée was aged for 11 years “sur lattes” followed by 5 years “sur pointes” and benefited from a further 4 years rest after disgorgement. 20% of the wines are vinified in oak. No malolactic fermentation. The dosage is 8g/L.
Lovely, slightly coppery, shimmering rose petal hue. An even flow of ultra-fine bubbles. The bouquet is bursting with freshness! We have an astonishing impression of a sea breeze wafting in delicately concentrated fragrances of zesty red and citrus fruits. After a few moments, all the complexity of the great Ay Pinot noirs is revealed to us: petals, peonies, cocoa beans, concentrated red fruit liqueur (raspberry), smoky notes, gingerbread, praline and cedar... accompanied by a few scents of undergrowth. Dynamic, concentrated and fresh on the palate. We still have that predominant freshness, but this time it's provided by the red fruit (zesty pomegranate). Then come the substance and the bubbles, tactile, delicately silky and bewitching, gradually revealing the flavoursome length typical of Cristal rosé. We have a veritable sensation of great lusciousness and vitality underpinned by a sweet/ saline/powdery finish.
An extraordinary year with all the qualities of an exceptional vintage in Champagne: consistently warm temperatures yet without excessive sunshine or heat, a particularly mild winter, slightly less rainfall than average during the growing cycle (20% less), cool nights and a cool, dry northeast wind in August and September. These exceptional conditions resulted in optimum ripeness levels in the grapes and good concentration of flavour. The harvesting began on the 12 September for the Chardonnays which were displaying an average sugar concentration of over 11% in natural alcohol.
Varietals: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Wine Alcohol: 11%
Harvest Start Date: September 12, 2002
Harvest End Date: September 29, 2002