Founded in 1776, and still family-owned. Known for their highly-regarded Prestige Cuveé Champagne Cristal (which was created for Alexander II, tsar of Russia) back in 1876. Interesting story behind why Cristal bottles are transparent and have flat bottom, link to FT article here.
Louis Roederer owns 240 hectares of vineyards, of which 80 ha goes into Cristal and 6 ha goes into Cristal Rosé. Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, the chef de cave of Louis Roederer, started treating some of their vineyards organically in 2000. Since 2012, all 80 hectares of vineyards for Cristal has been cultivated organically, and in 2013 completely biodynamically. Horses are used to plow to vineyards. The overall results of biodynamic viticulture according to Jean Baptiste is more concentrated grapes with more dry extract and lower pH. However, the yields are lower and they required a 30% increase in full-time staff working in the vineyards.
Cristal comes from 45 Grand Cru plots, total 80 hectares, although only 60 hectares currently goes into Cristal. Minimum 20 year old vines, on average 42 years old. Roots are 1.0 – 1.2m deep in the chalky soil.
Cristal went 100% organic in 2012. The annual production is around 800,000 bottles.
I have to admit when I first started drinking Champagne, I loved the oxidative style of Champagne such as Bollinger, Krug, and Selosse.. but I didn’t understand / appreciate as much the elegant style of Champagne such as Cristal as it was less bold and requires a bit more attention. The more I learnt about Champagne (production, terroir, vintages, etc), the more I appreciate and adore Champagne with higher ripeness, concentration and purity. Of all the Grand Marque, the producer that I consistently rate highly is Louis Roederer’s prestige cuvee, Cristal. Though technically speaking Cristal is more “grower” than Grand Marque since all the grapes come from their own vineyard.
Wines are fermented separately by plots. All their bottles are bottled at 4 bars of pressure compared to on average 6 bars of pressure in Champagne.
Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs 2014
Roederer started making a Blanc de Blancs in the 1930s, initially just for in-house consumption then eventually commercialised in 1950s. From 4 mid-slope plots in Avize. Focused and zingy array of lemon and granny smith apples. Quite sharp with a chalky and tart finish. A very nice aperitif. (87-88/100)
Louis Roederer 2014 Vintage
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. 16% malolactic fermentation. Clean and sophisticated. Elegant white fruits, supple autolytic nose with a smoky mineral finish. Focused, rather sharp on the palate. Needs a few more years of cellaring. (90-91/100)
Jean-Baptiste said everytime when Antonio Galloni came, he rates the Collection highly (as do many!), however he couldn’t publish his ratings as there is no distinction of each release on the label, and no release is the same.. Jean-Baptiste agreed and decided to start adding release number, September 2021 release was Collection 242, replacing Brut Premier.
36% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay, 22% Meunier. 2017 Base vintage with 34% of perpetual reserve, 10% from oak reserve. Supple perfume with a nice complexity. Great value. (90/100)
The 1989 Cristal is ripe and full bodied, resembles hot vintages like 1976 with its maturity and lower acidity. Tasted blind – Fully matured profile of apricot, citrus peel and bruised apples. Barely any bubbles left. Leesy texture with chardonnay driven nose with some Pinot Noir red fruits and backbone. I prefer 1988 overall. Drink now. Comte de Tattinger 1976? Possibly dodgy storage? (88/100)
Superb freshness and ultra intense fruits. Full on thrust that you know there are no messing arounds with 1996 Champagnes, especially with Cristal. This bottle shared by Mami was fresher than the last bottle I had. Zingy tree fruits, brioche, white flowers and sweet spices and ripe apples. Great power and tension, properly stored bottles should continue to develop over the next two decades. Shear intensity and lovely purity. (97/100)
Two 2002 Cristal from two different release dates. Come as no surprise, the original release Cristal showed superbly with more developed flavours, notably the maturing apricot fruits and burnt toast. Whereas the late release (2017) is like the reincarnation of Cristal, travelled back in time and retained its freshness and added more weight and nuances – full bodied with lots of texture and freshness. (92/100)
Cristal 2004 gained a bit more weight since my last bottle 6 months ago. Creamy fine mousse and fresh citrus fruits, great concentration and superb acidity for long term ageing. Great density and lovely bright fruits, reminds me of lemon curd spread on brioche. No malolactic fermentation. Delicate and gentle on the palate, needs more cellaring to reveal its excellence. Patience. Drinking fine now but would improve over the next decade as most Cristal does. Very age-worthy. Hide it in your cellar. (94+/100)
The 2008 Cristal offers an impressive intensity and concentration, nervy tension and brightness of tightly laced citrus fruits, white flowers, very fine lees and toasted spices. An elegant Champagne with zingy brightness and freshness. There are so many qualities in this 2008 that reminds me of the 1996 Cristal, which is a stunning Champagne that still has a long life ahead. This 2008 will no doubt be able to age for half a century! (96-97/100)
2013 was a cool vintage, harvest started in October for Roederer. Chardonnay performed better. Rich and well layered fruits and toasted beads. Sweet citrus and yellow fruits with a touch of baking soda and spices. Nice complexity and intensity. Drink now – 2048. (93/100)
This 2012 Cristal came from 35 plots out of Cristal’s 45 plots. This 2012 is one of the best release from Cristal I have tasted. Harmonious bouquet of sweet white fruits, chalky minerals and perfume. Admirable purity and intensity. Showing really well already with latent energy on the palate. (95-97/100)
Cristal Rosé 2009
Cristal Rosé comes from 4 plots, Avize, Aÿ, and Mesnil-Sur-Oger. c. 3 ha of Pinot Noir and c. 3ha of Chardonnay. These plots went biodynamic since 2008. 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay in 2009. 8g/L dosage. Profound nose of summer flowers, sweet strawberries and touch of rose water, reminds me of eton mess.. Expressive Pinot Noir, ripe and generous. Creamy and toasty on the finish. One of the best Champagne Rosé. (94-95/100)