x
  • Country ranking ?

    2 383
  • Producer ranking ?

    54
  • Decanting time

    No
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Seafood, Salads & Consommes

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 1997

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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Tasting note

color

Light, Green-Yellow and Bright

ending

Long, Flavorful, Smooth and Harsh

flavors

Mineral, Herbs, Citrus, White fruits, Bread and Toasty

nose

Closed, Complex, Fresh and Intense

recommend

Yes

taste

High in Acidity, Low alcohol content, Balanced, Complex, Well-structured, Youthful, Light, Firm, Toasty, Elegant, Dry and Silky tannins

Verdict

Fine and Sexy

Written Notes

The 1997 vintage has been suffering throughout its existence from its unfortunate destiny of being the successor to the superb 1996. It was a good year with less structure but charming fruitiness offering enjoyable purchases for mid-term drinking. Cristal is never a wine that comes around young, and the 1997 is no exception.

Bright yellow colour and small-sized energetic bubbles. The nose is somewhat closed. Aromas of green apples and green asparagus and some yeasty notes are detectable. Mouth filling mousse and refreshing firm acidity. Aromas of lemon and herbs complement the rich body. Edgy finish with high mineral and green aroma character. A closed wine that requires more years in the bottle to open and show its full potential.

  • 95p
It's hardly surprising that Roederer, with its brilliant vineyards, has succeeded so well in 1997. Cristal, of course, is a star as usual, with layers of fat, oily tastes. Honey, vanilla, exotic fruit, and cakes sound trivial for a wine with this complexity and elegance—so let's just enjoy this delicious tidbit without analyzing its beauty to death.
  • 94p

Bright yellow colour and small-sized energetic bubbles. The nose is somewhat closed. Aromas of green apples and green asparagus and some yeasty notes are detectable. Mouthfilling mousse and refreshing firm acidity. Aromas of lemon and herbs complement the rich body. Edgy finish with high mineral and green aroma character. A closed wine that requires further years in the bottle to open and show its full potential.

  • 96p

Information

Origin

Reims, Champagne

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.

96p
 Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1997  ( Louis Roederer )

Bright yellow colour and small-sized energetic bubbles. The nose is somewhat closed. Aromas of green apples and green asparagus and some yeasty notes are detectable. Mouthfilling mousse and refreshing firm acidity. Aromas of lemon and herbs complement the rich body. Edgy finish with high mineral and green aroma character. A closed wine that requires further years in the bottle to open and show its full potential.

2m 8d ago

95p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1997  ( Louis Roederer )

The 1997 vintage has been suffering throughout its existence from its unfortunate destiny of being the successor to the superb 1996. It was a good year with less structure but charming fruitiness offering enjoyable purchases for mid-term drinking. Cristal is never a wine that comes around young, and the 1997 is no exception.

Bright yellow colour and small-sized energetic bubbles. The nose is somewhat closed. Aromas of green apples and green asparagus and some yeasty notes are detectable. Mouth filling mousse and refreshing firm acidity. Aromas of lemon and herbs complement the rich body. Edgy finish with high mineral and green aroma character. A closed wine that requires more years in the bottle to open and show its full potential.

5m 25d ago

94p
 Richard Juhlin / The number One champagne expert in the world, Pro (Sweden)  tasted  Cristal 1997  ( Louis Roederer )

"It's hardly surprising that Roederer, with its brilliant vineyards, has succeeded so well in 1997. Cristal, of course, is a star as usual, with layers of fat, oily tastes. Honey, vanilla, exotic fruit, and cakes sound trivial for a wine with this complexity and elegance—so let's just enjoy this delicious tidbit without analyzing its beauty to death."

1y 3m ago

91p
 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  Cristal 1997  ( Louis Roederer )

"Charmingly toasty champagne, light structure lacking bit of depth "

3y 9m ago

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