x
  • Country ranking ?

    670
  • Producer ranking ?

    11
  • Decanting time

    5min
  • When to drink

    Now
  • Food Pairing

    Salmon Pâté

The Story

The composition of Cristal is approximately 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. The grapes used in the wine come from only the finest vineyards in Grand Cru villages. Lecaillon talks about the crucial role that vineyards play in quality:
“A majority of our most recent development has been in vineyard operations. We have strict limits set for crop yields and we're using vines that are 25 years old on average. We evaluate the grapes coming from our own vineyards very critically. We try to improve the vineyards that aren't performing well and keep the ones that are at the highest level of quality.

 

The grapes from our own vineyards produce wines with an alcohol content that’s an average of 1% higher than those produced with purchased grapes. There’s less tart malic acid in our own grapes. Even though we strive for the highest possible acidity, it’s absolutely necessary that this is accompanied by a ripe fruitiness. We belong to the five-percent minority of Champagne's producers who do not use malolactic fermentation to reduce wine acidity. The range of aromas is accentuated by the high-acid structure, much in the same way a salad dressing brings out the aromas in the food.
“And we stopped using cloned vines - we're only using the vine offspring from our own vineyards to ensure natural diversity. In the 1950s, -60s and -70s cloning was far too simple a solution for such a complex thing." Chef de Cave Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon explained

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Vintage 1955

In 1876, a Roederer champagne made for Russia’s Tsar Alexander II became the world’s first luxury cuvée. But with the sudden collapse of the Russian market, the champagne house endured a long struggle on the verge of bankruptcy. Eventually, the family’s shrewd patriarchs managed to turn things around, and today, Roederer is the most solvent of Champagne’s houses; indeed, its future looks Cristal clear.
Roederer is one of the few top champagne houses to remain family-owned. Although the house’s history actually begins in 1776, the company was not called Roederer until 1833, when Louis Roederer inherited the business from his uncle. It was Louis Roederer himself who increased the house’s production volume to its present level, 2.5 million bottles a year. He laid the foundation for exports and, particularly in Russia, enjoyed great success.
Louis Roederer II, his son, receives the credit for developing Cristal. The Russian Tsar was absolutely taken with Roederer champagne: in 1873, some 666,386 bottles, which amounted to approximately 27% of its entire production, were delivered to the court of Alexander II. In order to formalise Roederer’s status as official purveyor to the Imperial Court of Russia, Alexander II commissioned Louis Roederer to produce a very sweet, prestige blend packaged in a real crystal glass bottle. Roederer’s Martine Charlotte Lorson told us:
”The first luxury cuvée was born. From the very beginning, the bottle was clear and flat-bottomed. We later patented the bottle’s design. We have tried to change from the flat-bottomed bottle, but we can’t. Because of and thanks to the patent, Cristal’s label and appearance have stayed the same since 1928!”
And how fortunate that is, because, at least in our opinion, it is quite possibly the most beautiful wine bottle in the world, especially when wrapped in its trademark amber cellophane. Chef de Cave Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon explained the practicalities:
”We started using cellophane in the late 1970s, and there were still bottles with and without cellophane available in the early 1980s. Champagne is a light-sensitive product, so even though the cellophane is beautiful, it also plays a key role in protecting the Cristal from ultraviolet radiation. The amber cellophane also makes the bottle instantly recognisable, thus serving as a brand-building tool.”
The story of Cristal’s genuine crystal bottle is well-known. This is why we were surprised to discover that there is not one true crystal bottle in existence or even a photograph of one.
”Unfortunately, that’s true”, says Lorson, and continues: ”We’ve been searching high and low without any luck. But then again, Cristal was only packaged in crystal bottles for one or two years. The bottle was too weak to withstand the pressure and, because the Tsar’s champagne was so sweet, there was some post-fermentation, and the resulting losses were too much even for the extravagant Tsar.”

The 1970s were a turning point of sorts for Roederer and Cristal. Camille Olry-Roederer’s grandson Jean-Claude Rouzaud joined the house and gradually took the helm. It was a rough start, as TCA, a chemical compound that causes cork taint, infested the Roederer cellars. The young man faced an enormous undertaking. A huge volume of wine had to be taken off the market and disposed of, and the entire production facility had to be sterilised and rebuilt.
This is also the period of Cristal’s emerging popularity, when Roederer worked with an American importer to make Cristal the world’s most in-demand champagne. A key detail of this plan was to double the price. When Rouzaud was named Decanter Man of the Year in 2001, he said in an interview that one of the most significant things he had done at Roederer was to decrease the production of Cristal from one third to under a fifth of Roederer’s overall production. High price and low availability - alongside uncompromised quality - have made Cristal the most coveted champagne in the world.

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Average Bottle Price

2016 2015 2012 2005
5 632€ +33.7% 4 211€ +20.7% 3 490€ +26.2% 2 765€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

12 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Medium, Gold and Bright

ending

Long, Lingering and Smooth

flavors

Nutty, Apricot, Honey, Mineral, Truffles and Plum

nose

Open, Complex, Rich and Opulent

recommend

Yes

taste

High in Acidity, Complex, Concentrated, Perfectly balanced, Developing, Medium-bodied, Harmonious, Round, Ripe and Dry

Verdict

Sophisticated and Excellent

Written Notes

The 1955 Cristal was a gorgeous bottle, direct from the Domaine. Merci beaucoup! The nose has lots of wafer with a side of limestone, unfurling into caramel and a rusty sweetness. It had great sweetness but was a bit stony and rocky. Someone admired, ‘so much weight,’ but I got a touch of burnt rubber on the finish that kept this score from being even higher (95).
  • 95p
During an incomparable evening at the restaurant Pontus in the Green House, we succeeded in picking out three basically perfect Champagnes in different styles. A beautifully floral and acidly austere 1961 Salon was the first on the stage, before a Latour-like 1914 Bollinger blew away any memory of the Salon bottle. Last but not least was this perfect charmer. Simply the most perfect, caramel-sated cuvée.
  • 99p
Cristal is one of those rare champagnes that truly blossom after long bottle ageing. It almost hurts to consume Cristal too young, since it really reveals its true character after 20-30 years of age and evolves beautifully decades after that. This wine is again a great proof of that. The vintage 1955 turned out to be a superior vintage that resulted in a large crop of excellent quality grapes. Golden bright colour with small quickly evaporating bubbles. Intense and complex nose that has opened wonderfully. Touch of toastiness, nuttiness, dried fruits, apricots, and apples with honeyed overtones. The still crisp and vinous taste shows lesser mousse but really intense and concentrated minerality combined with nutty dried fruit characteristics. Lovely long finish with lemon tart and brioche flavours. Drink up with good company!
  • 95p

Information

Origin

Reims, Champagne

Vintage Quality

Excellent

Value For Money

Satisfactory

Investment potential

Below Average

Fake factory

None

Other wines from this producer

Blanc de Blancs

Brut Nature

Brut Premier

Carte Blanche Demi-Sec

Carte Blanche Sec

Cristal Rosé

Cristal Rosé Vinothèque

Cristal Vinothèque

Vintage

Vintage Blanc de Blancs

Vintage Rosé

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

95p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Cristal 1955  ( Louis Roederer )

"The 1955 Cristal was a gorgeous bottle, direct from the Domaine. Merci beaucoup! The nose has lots of wafer with a side of limestone, unfurling into caramel and a rusty sweetness. It had great sweetness but was a bit stony and rocky. Someone admired, ‘so much weight,’ but I got a touch of burnt rubber on the finish that kept this score from being even higher (95)."

1y 2m ago

99p
 Richard Juhlin / The number One champagne expert in the world, Pro (Sweden)  tasted  Cristal 1955  ( Louis Roederer )

"During an incomparable evening at the restaurant Pontus in the Green House, we succeeded in picking out three basically perfect Champagnes in different styles. A beautifully floral and acidly austere 1961 Salon was the first on the stage, before a Latour-like 1914 Bollinger blew away any memory of the Salon bottle. Last but not least was this perfect charmer. Simply the most perfect, caramel-sated cuvée."

1y 5m ago

94p
 Juha Jormanainen, Wine Writer (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1955  ( Louis Roederer )

"Quite deep yellow color, very little bubbles, slightly touched with oxygen. On palate broad, very intense, very much fruit left, apricot, nice harmony. Old beautiful lady in evening dress. Charmer."

1y 11m ago

98p
 Edward Cuvée, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1955  ( Louis Roederer )

"Freh and alive..wow :)"

3y 11m ago

95p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1955  ( Louis Roederer )

"Cristal is one of those rare champagnes that truly blossom after long bottle ageing. It almost hurts to consume Cristal too young, since it really reveals its true character after 20-30 years of age and evolves beautifully decades after that. This wine is again a great proof of that. The vintage 1955 turned out to be a superior vintage that resulted in a large crop of excellent quality grapes.
Golden bright colour with small quickly evaporating bubbles. Intense and complex nose that has opened wonderfully. Touch of toastiness, nuttiness, dried fruits, apricots, and apples with honeyed overtones. The still crisp and vinous taste shows lesser mousse but really intense and concentrated minerality combined with nutty dried fruit characteristics. Lovely long finish with lemon tart and brioche flavours. Drink up with good company!

"

4y 7m ago

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