OMG. A masterpiece. A benchmark. Tight and structured, with fantastic precision and structure. Sharp line of acidity throughout, with fine and tight bubbles. Pineapple, lemon, white apricot, seashell, biscuit, blanched almond and a hint of chamomile. Vertical and mineral. Dosage 7g/L. Special release in magnum and aged two or three years longer on the lees than the normal bottling. I can’t go higher than this. Even better in a few years.
The 2008 Cristal is a perfect wine, and Champagne simple does not get any better. This incredible wine offers a beautiful perfume of clean, crisp fruits, layers of complexity in its toasted spice and white flowers, and an utterly seamless, yet powerful style on the palate. This is a rich, decadent expression of Cristal yet it’s still crystalline and elegant, with no sensation of weight, and it just glides over the palate. Haut Couture at its finest and this majestic, profound, legendary Cristal can be drunk anytime over the coming 2-3 decades.
Disgorged October 2016 and will be the first Cristal to be released ten years from harvest when it is offered in 2018. 35 parcels used from a possible 45 in this vintage. The assemblage is 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay. This is so fresh and tense and mineral with extremely exuberant chardonnay notes on the nose of white peach, lemon and yellow grapefruit, and hints of almost brambly sous bois aromas. The yeast characters are also super fresh, and there are subtle woody notes, with a hint of vanilla bean and light spices. The palate is super long, and very pure, powerful and focused. It drives deep and taut. Pinot noir is a strong core and the chardonnay sits at the edge offering lemon and white nectarine sorbet flavors. Staggeringly concentrated, yet the balance makes it seem airy and light. Acidity is perfectly positioned, and the power is intense and long. This is an ultra precise Cristal, finishing with a mere suggestion of savoriness and warmth to come. Impressive on release, this will be at its best drinking from 2025.
This latest incarnation of the famous brand is a superb wine. It is on par with, maybe even better than, the already legendary 2002. Its balance is impeccable: Apple and citrus flavors working with the tight minerality to give a textured yet fruity wine. Produced from Roederer's own vineyards which are mainly biodynamic, the wine has its own intense purity and crispness. It has amazing potential and is likely to age for many years. Drink from 2020.
Disgorged in September 2017 with 7.5 grams per liter dosage, the 2008 Cristal was produced from 37 of the 45 parcels that are candidates for inclusion in this cuvée—some 40% of which were farmed organically back in 2008—and it's a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The finest young Cristal in decades, the wine wafts from the glass with a pure and vibrant bouquet of crisp orchard fruit, clear honey, warm brioche, citrus zest and white flowers. On the palate, it's full-bodied, intense and incisive, with superb concentration, racy acids and a long, searingly chalky finish. Pristinely balanced, there are some 500,000 bottles of this legend-in-the-making.
2022 - 2050
There's a sense of focus and vibrancy to the overall structure, while the palate is all grace and charm. A fine, lacy texture carries a tapestry of ripe white cherry, toast point, blood orange zest, honey and ground ginger notes, with a minerally, mouthwatering finish. A stunning Champagne with a long future ahead of it. Drink now through 2033.
As I mentioned in my feature on Maison Louis Roederer a couple of years ago, the 2008 Cristal was the first vintage here to spend fully ten years in the cellars in Reims prior to release. It is a great, great vintage of Cristal and I was very much looking forward to revisiting it this past November, as it is now due for its re-release from the maison. Readers may recall that this is the “rare bird” of Cristal vintages that included some vins clairs that went through malo, as about sixteen percent of the blend underwent its secondary fermentation prior to blending and bottling for aging sur lattes. The wine is brilliant on both the nose and palate, with time not really seeming to have touched it much since I last tasted a bottle. The bouquet is deep, complex and still properly youthful in personality, wafting from the glass in a fine blend of apple, pear, a touch of fresh almond, complex, chalky minerality, incipient notes of caraway seed, citrus peel and lovely floral tones in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still fairly primary, with a rock solid core, lovely cut and grip, laser-like focus, refined mousse and a very, very long, very pure and still quite youthful finish. As I have noted in the past, twenty percent of the vins clairs for the 2008 Cristal were barrel-fermented and the wine was finished with a dosage of 7.5 grams per liter. It was disgorged in September of 2017. 2030-2095.
Let's start describing the 2008 Cristal technically first. It is a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 36 plots in seven grands crus: Verzy, Verzenay, Beaumont and Aÿ for the Pinot Noir and Mesnil, Avize and Cramant for the Chardonnay. Twenty-five percent of the wine was fermented in oak, and 16% underwent malolactic fermentation to moderate the fresh acidity of the 2008 vintage. The assemblage was bottled in May 2009. After 8.5 years on the second lees (longer than any Cristal before), the first release was disgorged in September 2017 with a relatively low dosage of 7.5 grams per liter.
So, here is how it tastes as a "young" cuvée: The 2008 Cristal opens bright, super clear, fresh and pure on the exciting, absolutely fascinating nose with its fine, complex and elegant bouquet of gorgeously ripe and matured fruits, brioche and chalk expressions. This is the finest you can get from Champagne. The palate is pure, lean, fresh and filigreed but concentrated, highly complex, full of tension and enormously vibrant. This is a great vin de terroir, a dense and elegant Super-Cristal that goes straight and precise as a laser beam over the palate but also has texture in the form of sensually fleshy fruit. The dosage, however, is the lowest ever: just 7.5 grams. The endless and highly tensioned finish is complex, citrusy fresh, full of chalk and crystalline finesse. The 2008 Cristal is a vitalizing drug, "the Chevalier Montrachet of Champagne," as Jean-Baptise Lécaillon puts it. It is the most exciting 2008 Champagne I have tasted thus far (May 2018).
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon and the team at Louis Roederer decided to release the very fine 2009 Cristal ahead of the more racy 2008 version, and this seems to have been a very good idea, as this decision has allowed the 2008 version to rest comfortably in the cellars for an additional year or two. In fact, the 2008 Cristal will be the first vintage of this wine to be released ten years out from the vintage. This is not the only exceptional aspect of the 2008 Cristal, as this is one of the very, very few vintages of this iconic wine that has included a small percentage of vins clairs that have gone through malolactic fermentation, as Monsieur Lécaillon observed that sixteen percent of the blend in 2008 is composed of wines that went through malo. The results are magical, as this small part of the blend that has undergone malolactic fermentation seems to have rounded off the snappy acids of 2008 a bit and given the wine an unprecedented textural accessibility out of the blocks that was not found in a similarly racy vintage like 1996, which was tensile and hermetically sealed when first released. Twenty percent of the vins clairs for the 2008 Cristal were barrel-fermented and the wine was finished with a dosage of 7.5 grams per liter. The wine is flat out stunning, offering up a pure and youthfully complex bouquet of apple, lemon, warm brioche, stunningly complex, chalky minerality, a touch of orange zest, fresh almond and a floral topnote redolent of lemon blossoms and mimosa. On the palate the wine is deep, fullbodied, complex and utterly seamless in its balance, with a great core, laser-like focus, utterly refined mousse and a very, very long, racy, complex and seamlessly balanced finish. This is a breathtakingly beautiful wine in the making! It is approachable today, but like all vintages of Cristal, the 2008 really deserves at least another decade in the cellar before starting to drink it with abandon. Disgorged September 2017. 2028-2095+