Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne was created in 1876 to satisfy the refined palate of Tsar Alexander II. The emperor asked Roederer to reserve its best cuvée for him in exceptional vintages. To distinguish the Tsar’s Champagne from the rest, the wine came in a flat-bottomed, lead-glass “crystal” bottle. The brand later took its name from that precious vessel.
In 1990, while dining at Jean Bardet in Tours, we were treated to a bottle of eight-year-old Louis Roederer Cristal. The 1982 Cristal set a bar by which all other Champagnes would be measured. Five years after bottling, that mind-boggling blend of dozens of micro-cuvées was unbelievably fresh and crisp — truly a baby in a cradle — a magnificently sculpted Champagne that married power, grace, and elegance. Today, the 1982 fetches nearly $800/bottle on the auction market. If you hit the jackpot on the Lending Club IPO, buy a couple bottles. You deserve it.
The 2006 Roederer Cristal takes a page out of the same fabulously age-worthy script. April and May were mild and wet on the limestone hillsides above Épernay and Reims, but June was sunny and full of blue skies, ensuring excellent flowering. July was hot and extremely dry, accelerating the maturation process. Then, as is so often the case in the region, Nature threw the Champenois a curveball. All the promise of early summer disappeared during three stormy weeks in August. The glee of July turned to angst. Then, one more time, the weather did another 180, as sunshine reigned supreme in September. Harvest at Louis Roederer went off without a hitch. Clusters were small and clean. Quality was pristine.
[[image0_left]]The 2006 Roederer Cristal is absolutely exquisite. Tiny bubbles of great persistence. Beautiful aromas of ripe apple and beeswax, crisp and piercing. Unusually rich and weighty, filled with a luscious mix of honeysuckle, orange rind, almond, and vanilla, the finish goes on and on and on … and on ... finishing with sensational vibrancy and mouthwatering minerality.
Finally, two years after we first knocked on Louis Roederer’s door, the winery set aside 300 bottles of the 2006 Cristal for WineAccess. 30 bottles remain.
$249 regularly. Just $195/bottle this Sunday morning on WineAccess. 97 points from Antonio Galloni, Decanter Magazine, and longtime Wine Spectator critic James Suckling. Shipping included on 2.
Disappointed in this bottle. Seemed a bit flat. Not in the bubbles but in the depth. What a shame to pay so much for so little :(
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