x
  • Country ranking ?

    1 395
  • Producer ranking ?

    31
  • Decanting time

    15min
  • When to drink

    now to 2030
  • Food Pairing

    Carrot gazpacho seasoned with cumin

The Wine Advocate - Antonio Galloni - January 23, 2009

96 Points "Roederer’s 1996 Cristal is gorgeous. The expressive, floral bouquet melds seamlessly into an expansive palate of sweet fruit. This is an exceptionally polished and finessed Cristal, but like so many vintages, it needs time in bottle, regardless of how rewarding it is today. Even after all of these great 1996s, the Cristal delivers the goods."

 

The Wine Advocate - Antonio Galloni - January 2009

96 Points "The estate’s 1996 Cristal, from a legendary vintage, does not disappoint. ...The 1996 is an insanely beautiful Cristal loaded with floral, perfumed fruit and vibrant minerality. The wine turns delicate in the glass, yet this is a sublime, fresh Cristal that is in need of further cellaring."

 

Wine Review Online - Ed McCarthy - August 2005

99 Points "Champagne doesn't get much better than Cristal; in the great vintages, it has no peer. Louis Roederer has been making Cristal as a dry prestige cuvée only since the end of World War II, but since then, this house has made some of the world's greatest Champagnes... The '96 Cristal stood out like a beacon at a recent Champagne luncheon of prestige cuvees. Its intense, honeyed flavors penetrate the palate and are backed with piercing acidity."

 

Wine Spectator - B.S. - November 2003

94 Points "A paradox. This has weight yet a sensation of weightlessness thanks to its seamless texture and harmony. Still firm and forceful yet elegant, offering citrus, pastry, biscuit and hazelnut notes enmeshed in the creamy texture. Great structure for aging. Drink now through 2015."

 

The Wine Advocate - Robert Parker - December 2002

95 Points

 

International Wine Cellar - Stephen Tanzer - December 2002

94+ Points "Multidimensional nose offers baked apple, orange oil, acacia honey, white chocolate, toffee and earthy low tones. Expansive, super concentrated and powerful but not aggressive, with wonderfully sweet flavors of orange, flowers and honey supported by strong underlying structure. An amazingly solid Champagne with the stuffing for extended development in bottle."

Wine Enthusiast - W.E. - December 2002

92 Points "Fresh brioche and roasted honey aromas are as rich and intense as the apple and anise flavors. The mouthfeel is creamy yet crisp and vibrant."

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The Story

In 1876 when Tsar Alexander II requested that a special cuvée be created for his court Roederer duly obliged, creating what many regard to be the first prestige cuvée. 

 

As the political situation in Russia was somewhat unstable, Tsar Alexander feared assassination. He ordered that Champagne bottles be made of clear glass, so that he could see the bubbles and to prevent anyone from hiding a bomb within, as could easily happen with a typical dark green bottle. Roederer commissioned a Flemish glassmaker to create clear lead crystal Champagne bottles with a flat bottom. 

Originally a sweet blend, the Champagne was named “Cristal” after these distinctive clear lead crystal glass bottles.

 

In 1909, the House of Louis Roederer was regarded as the “Official Purveyor of Champagne to the Imperial Court of Russia” – a business coup that was later reversed following the deposition of the Tsar during the 1917 Revolution. Prohibition in the US caused additional financial difficulties during the early 20th century. However, the house survived these setbacks and today Louis Roederer remains an independent, family-owned business, managed by Roederer’s descendant, Frédéric Rouzaud.

 

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 1996

In 1876, Tsar Alexander II was already a great fan of Louis Roederer’s champagne and he asked
Louis Roederer to «go one step further» and produce, for his own personal consumption,a unique wine in quality and bottle. Louis Roederer off ered to create an exceptional white crystal bottle to house the best selection from the 7 finest vineyards of his estate.
Cristal was only produced in the “great” years when the ripeness of the Chardonnay and Pinot noir enabled a subtle, precise balance. Cristal is the region’s most prestigious Champagne.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

57 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Light, Green-Yellow and Bright

ending

Long, Lingering and Vibrant

flavors

Toasty, Smoky, Nutty and Buttery

nose

Intense, Pure, Complex and Fresh

recommend

Yes

taste

High in Acidity, Concentrated, Complex, Perfectly balanced, Youthful, Medium-bodied, Firm, Round, Harmonious and Dry

Verdict

Intelligent and Sophisticated

Written Notes

The 1996 Louis Roederer Cristal was its usual butterscotchy self but not in the same class as the Rose, at least not this bottle. It was an outstanding Champagne, sweet and flirty, but but but…(95).

  • 95p
It is, of course, insane to drink this wine this early. I quake at the thought of how much Cristal is going to be stolen from the cradle at nightclubs and fashionable restaurants in the rich parts of the world. I was almost ashamed when I—for professional reasons, of course—popped the cork. The entire register is certainly here already, but everything is so incredibly shy and subordinate to the high acidity. Buy all you can find and leave it forgotten for the time being in some dark corner of the basement. Having said that, certain bottles are already deliciously honeyed. Very mature now in some normally stored bottles.
  • 96p
A dream come true vintage combining volume (10 356 kg/ha), ripeness and remarkable acidity. This is as structured and long-lived as it gets, near immortal. Another positive characteristic is that there are still 1996s around to buy and stock for the years to come. Every Cristal vintage requires time, but more than usual one should allow the 1996 further 5-10 in the cellar. As Cristal has not gone through malo-lactic fermentation the acidity is phenomenal and to the liking of all high acidity champagne lovers. Persistent and fine small-sized bubbles in the glass. The nose is pure, pronounced and with some signs of development. Ripe fruitiness, lemon, brioche and ripe apple aromas overwhelm the taster. The palate is fresh and tart, slightly tight and closed still but with remarkable concentration and length. This will undoubtedly develop into one of the best Cristals ever made.
  • 97p

here is wonderful tension between the minerally, citrus flavors and fresh acidity with just the right amount of autolysis/lees character to give it depth and length.

  • 96p

Information

Origin

Reims, Champagne

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Best buy

Investment potential

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

Inside Information

The estate’s 1996 Cristal, from a legendary vintage, does not disappoint. Like the 1979, there are elements of austerity that will require some time to sort themselves out, yet the 1996 is an insanely beautiful Cristal loaded with floral, perfumed fruit and vibrant minerality. The wine turns delicate in the glass, yet this is a sublime, fresh Cristal that is in need of further cellaring. In 1996 Cristal is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. According to Lecaillon 1996 is a vintage that did not respond well to oak aging, so only 3% of the wine was aged in wood, while 10% of the wine saw malolactic fermentation. This bottle was disgorged in 2007 and dosage was 8 grams. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2026.

 

Wine Advocate #144
Dec 2002
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 95 Drink: N/A $390-$860 (175)
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95p
 Edward Cuvée, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1996  ( Louis Roederer )

"Vacation weeks wines. Cristal 96 was superb. :P"

6y 9m ago

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