x
  • Country ranking ?

    50
  • Producer ranking ?

    2
  • Decanting time

    20min
  • When to drink

    now to 2030
  • Food Pairing

    Salmon with a mild butter sauce

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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Jean-Baptise Lecaillon - ‘2008 Cristal is my best ever’

Champagne Roederer’s 2008 Cristal is the best in cellar master Jean-Baptise Lecaillon’s 30-year history with the house, he says.

Speaking to the drinks business at the official launch of the famous prestige cuvee’s 2008 vintage, Lecaillion said that it is “the most Cristal of Cristals; it represents exactly the vision we have of Cristal”.

The 2008 follows the release of the younger 2009 vintage last year. According to Lecaillion, the 2008 – which he admits was a “struggle” – needed longer to calm down its acidity. However, it was worth the wait, and the cellar master has compared it to two previous, much-lauded vintages: the 1988 and 1996.

The Champagne – a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay – was aged for 10 years, the longest ever cellaring time for Cristal. It’s available now at £210 per bottle (RRP), a 5% increase on the 2009 release.

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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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Wine Information

Cristal 2008 was bottle-aged for 8 years before being left to rest for at least 8 months after disgorging in order to attain perfect maturity.

Amber hue with green and orange tints. Fine, even and lively sparkle. Complex and intense bouquet disclosing candied citrus, yellow fruit, Williams pear, pollen, and toasted almond. The delicately seductive bouquet shows intensity and well-honed precision. The wine is powerful, full yet tight, on entry to the palate. The 2008 vintage is undeniably well structured but in a particular way: the wine’s almost saline concentration has not been created by the sun but is derived from the dryness of the chalk soil in a particularly cool summer. The result is a smooth, almost liquorous, mouthfeel that coats the palate with a powerful yet soft texture. This gives way to an incredible finish, underpinned by freshness and an impression of absolute purity with a taut and very saline character. The Cristal 2008 is deep, intense and masterful. It offers the quintessential reflection of its chalk soils which lend it is velvety texture and delicate tension. This wine’s energy has been tamed by an unusually long period of bottle ageing: Cristal 2008 was in fact aged for 10 years before its release on the market. A first!

Blend: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay

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Vintage 2008

2008 -The Champagne vintage set to make history!

A first taste of leading winemakers’ 2008 champagnes reveals a miraculous vintage, bubbling with potential, which – whisper it – might just prove the greatest in living memory.

2008 was not, by any standards, a vintage year for the financial world. And for the greater part of it, 2008 was a pretty poor year for Champagne too: spring was freezing, summer gloomy and overcast. But then, around the time that Lehman Brothers was heading for total collapse, a little miracle occurred in the vineyards of Ambonnay, Bouzy and Ay: the weather turned, the fruit started to ripen and the Champenois suddenly found themselves on course for a vintage that is now, on its release, being hailed as one of the best in a generation.

"2008 is one of the greatest champagne vintages of my lifetime," says Tom Stevenson, co-author of the Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine and founder of the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. "So fine and focused, unbelievably long, with great precision, purity and intensity, yet barely perceptible weight."

High-profile 2008s launched this year includes Cristal, Dom Pérignon and Pol Roger Winston Churchill. Several more biggies are still to come, including Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne. But already, 2008 is drawing comparisons with some of champagne’s most legendary vintages. "From what I have seen so far, 2008 is the best young champagne vintage I have ever tasted," says Alastair Woolmer of Farr Vintners. "The 2008s have a very similar energy and intensity to the great 1996s, but with arguably better balance and more consistency. It could well prove to be the best champagne vintage since 1988. "

"I think the 2008 is my best Cristal to date," says Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, chef de cave of Louis Roederer (which produces the prestige cuvée Cristal). "It was a very dry, cool summer, so we have this freshness, this bright line of acidity running through the wine that is typical of great vintages and particularly great Cristal. But it has a velvety texture, too, that will no doubt give it great longevity. "

"Weatherwise, it was a vintage very much in line with 1996, but this time we tried not to make the same mistakes," he says. "In 1996 we picked too early, so we picked later in 2008. We used virtually no oak fermentation in '96, we used more in 2008. We used a little more malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity in 2008. And last, but not least, we kept it 10 years on lees, compared to '96, which we launched after just six years on the lees - that's a big difference. So I think the wines have a texture the ’96 didn’t have in the end. It's a wine with super potential. "

The vintage (£ 279 from Berry Bros & Rudd) may still be young by Cristal standards, but it's already very engaging - salty, citrusy, like pineapple dipped in seawater, with a glorious, creamy mousse. It has that characteristic Louis Roederer flawlessness, but it's also incredibly exuberant. "It's a very, very strong vintage," Lecaillon agrees. "It could be the most 'Cristal" yet of the Cristals! "

Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave Richard Geoffroy is similarly effusive about 2008. "It was a miracle year," he says. "The whole summer ripening period was so-so - gloomy, overcast, gray. We had accepted it was going to be average, but then, just a couple of days before picking, it became outstanding. So the strategy became to hold the picking back, for it to be as slow as could be. It ended up being one of the longest harvests ever, close to four weeks. So much of 2008’s grandeur comes from working with those constraints and turning them into opportunities. "

 

From far left: Louis Roederer Cristal, £ 279 from Berry Bros & Rudd. AR Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Chouilly, £ 63 from The Whiskey Exchange. Eric Rodez Ambonnay Grand Cru Pinot Noir Les Beurys & Les Secs, £ 92 from Wine Source. Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, about £ 150 from Clos19. Dom Pérignon Champagne, £ 147 from Clos19

Dom Pérignon 2008 (£ 147 from Clos19) is a blend, more or less like all Dom Pérignons, of equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The result is a wine with serious sex appeal: bright and sherbetty up top, more rich and honeyed beneath. On the nose, there’s a whiff of gunpowder - a smoldering, savory scent that’s a trademark of the house. "A lot of people draw comparisons with 1996," says Geoffroy, "but the 2008 has more substance. It's a bit more 'pumped up' - athletic, even. "

The launch of Dom Pérignon 2008 - which was previewed to a small number of journalists in June but launches properly in early 2019 - is particularly piquant for Geoffroy because it marks his retirement after 28 years as one of champagne’s most glamorous chefs de cave. Geoffroy’s shoes will be filled by his deputy, 42-year-old Vincent Chaperon - a succession that Dom Pérignon is marking with a special Legend Edition coffret for a small number of the 2008 bottles. "It's good that the transition is happening through the 2008," says Geoffroy philosophically, "because it's a vintage that's really pushing the envelope."

 

Dom Pérignon 2008 (£147 from Clos19) is a blend, more or less like all Dom Pérignons, of equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The result is a wine with serious sex appeal: bright and sherbetty up top, more rich and honeyed beneath. On the nose, there’s a whiff of gunpowder – a smouldering, savoury scent that’s a trademark of the house. “A lot of people draw comparisons with 1996,” says Geoffroy, “but the 2008 has more substance. It’s a bit more ‘pumped up’ – athletic, even.”

The launch of Dom Pérignon 2008 – which was previewed to a small number of journalists in June but launches properly in early 2019 – is particularly piquant for Geoffroy because it marks his retirement after 28 years as one of champagne’s most glamorous chefs de cave. Geoffroy’s shoes will be filled by his deputy, 42-year-old Vincent Chaperon – a succession that Dom Pérignon is marking with a special Legend Edition coffret for a small number of the 2008 bottles. “It’s good that the transition is happening through the 2008,” says Geoffroy philosophically, “because it’s a vintage that’s really pushing the envelope.”

2008 was also a seismic year for Veuve Clicquot: cellar master Dominique Demarville was so impressed by the quality of the Pinot Noir that he made a major adjustment to the house’s prestige cuvée La Grande Dame (about £150 from Clos19), bumping up the percentage of Pinot Noir from 60 per cent to 92 per cent (with the remaining eight per cent being Chardonnay) – a change that he’s maintained ever since. “I had wanted to increase the amount of Pinot Noir in La Grande Dame to give it a stronger signature, to get that full body and length, for some time. And 2008 was a great year for Pinot Noir,” he says. “The gentle ripening season resulted in base wines with wonderful balance – depth and richness and body and acidity.” Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2008 is majestic: succulent, firm and full of apple and bramble fruit, borne on a great whoosh of fine, silky fizz. Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2008 will be released in early 2019.

Different houses interpret a vintage in different ways, but the hallmark of 2008 is that brilliant, mouth‑watering acidity. In a blind tasting I did of 2008s and ’09s with Nick Baker of champagne merchants The Finest Bubble, the ’09s were consistently more fruity, more evolved and often deeper in colour, while the ’08s were brighter, tighter and more high-definition. You could spot them a mile off.

Partly as a consequence of that acidity, the 2008 vintage has, as a rule, matured more slowly than 2009, a fact that led a number of houses, including Dom Pérignon, to break with tradition and release the two vintages in reverse chronological order: 2009 first, 2008 second.

Having said that, I think many of the 2008s are already tasting absolutely delicious. And a couple have already won top awards. At the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships 2017, the Chairman’s Trophy went to AR Lenoble’s 2008 Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Chouilly (£63 from The Whisky Exchange) – a luxuriant champagne that proved 2008 wasn’t just a year for Pinot Noir but Chardonnay too. “The vintage 2008 in Champagne was the best vintage following 2002,” says Antoine Malassagne, winemaker and co-owner of AR Lenoble with his sister Anne. “The rich, natural creaminess found in our Chardonnay grapes from the grand cru village of Chouilly was able to express itself beautifully.”

Piper-Heidsieck’s crystalline 2008 (£70 from The Finest Bubble) won World Champion Vintage Brut Blend in the same competition. “If 2008 has any flaw, it is that its wines are so perfect,” says CSWWC chairman Tom Stevenson. “Truly talented chefs de cave are skilled at blending together interlocking components of imperfection. Even in great years, it is the blender’s skill at the assemblage that creates a polished champagne, but in 2008, each base wine was so beautifully balanced in its own right that combining them threatened to do more harm than good. Some got it wrong and produced champagnes that were too angular and mean, but plenty of others made great 2008s. Many of the very best 2008s have yet to be released, but I have no hesitation in claiming that 2008 is the greatest Dom Pérignon vintage ever produced.”

2008 may have come good in the end, but for many, at the time, it was incredibly stressful. The sheer exhaustion of nurturing vines during a tricky growing season – which often called for night forays into the vineyards – caused Eric Rodez, a former cellar master at Krug, who now makes a range of cult cuvées under his own name, to press two separate plots of Pinot Noir as one, a mistake he only realised after bottling. “As a result, what is normally Les Beurys in any other vintage is Les Beurys & Les Secs Pinot Noir 2008 that year,” he admits, cheerfully. “This wine should not be made again, it is unique to 2008.” 

Rodez’s mistake will no doubt only add to the cachet of his 2008 Ambonnay Grand Cru Pinot Noir Les Beurys & Les Secs (£92 from Wine Source) – a champagne marked by aromatic, cherry fruitiness and fresh minerality. But he still has some more surprises up his sleeve. “We have in the cellars two secret cuvées to be released when the time comes,” he reveals, cryptically. “Patience, patience.”

I’ve tasted fantastic 2008s from the cooperatives too. In the 08/09 blind tasting with The Finest Bubble, Palmer & Co Brut Millésimé 2008 squared up magnificently to the prestige cuvées – it combined a shimmering, almost Roederer-like citrussiness with the snap of pale, buttery shortbread. A great buy at £46.95 a bottle for a case of 12.

If you move fast, there may also still be a few bottles left of Berry Bros & Rudd’s own-label 2008 (£36 each), produced by the Mailly cooperative in the Montagne de Reims – a champagne that’s all pale stone fruit and lean, chalky purity.

There is a lot about the 2008s that’s already pretty irresistible – but hold off drinking them for now, if you can, says Alastair Woolmer. “At this early stage, they are fascinating to taste, but due to their laser-like acidity, they will only reveal their true potential and pleasure with about 20 years of age. Truly great champagne vintages like this need bottle age to be at their best. This is a vintage to go long on and reap the rewards in years to come.”

by Alice Lascelles.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

32 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Light, Green-Yellow and Clear

ending

Long, Gentle and Extensive

flavors

Vanilla, Apricot, Honey, Mineral, Truffles and Steely

nose

Youthful, Fresh, Opulent and Generous

taste

Average in Acidity, Concentrated, Well-Integrated, Multi-dimensional, Medium-bodied, Rich, Vigor and Elegant

Verdict

Intelligent and Masterpiece

Written Notes

16% malo, only on Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. ‘There were lots of similarities with 1996, which gave us the possibility to replay the 1996 vintage! Maybe we picked 1996 a bit early so in 2008 we waited longer, by at least a week, than in 1996. Lots of tasting – far more than in 1996 when Roederer based picking only on analysis – and there was no malo in 1996.’ For the first time ever, they decided to release it later than the younger vintage, 2009 – so 2008 had nine years on lees. The last batch of 2008 will be disgorged in March 2019. (Scan the back label via the Roederer app to get the disgorgement year.) Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon is coy about the assemblage. ‘I’m looking for chalkiness.’ In 2008 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, which reflects perfectly the balance of their plantings. 40% of the estate was biodynamic then.
Really dense nose with lots of evolution but still extreme freshness. Some apple-skin character. Bone dry but wonderful lift and freshness. Long and super-lively. Real undertow, but very racy on the nose. Lots to chew on. Really elegant!

  • 98p

The 2008 Cristal is a perfect wine, and Champagne simple does not get any better. This incredible wine offers a beautiful perfume of clean, crisp fruits, layers of complexity in its toasted spice and white flowers, and an utterly seamless, yet powerful style on the palate. This is a rich, decadent expression of Cristal yet it’s still crystalline and elegant, with no sensation of weight, and it just glides over the palate. Haut Couture at its finest and this majestic, profound, legendary Cristal can be drunk anytime over the coming 2-3 decades.

  • 100p

Disgorged October 2016 and will be the first Cristal to be released ten years from harvest when it is offered in 2018. 35 parcels used from a possible 45 in this vintage. The assemblage is 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay. This is so fresh and tense and mineral with extremely exuberant chardonnay notes on the nose of white peach, lemon and yellow grapefruit, and hints of almost brambly sous bois aromas. The yeast characters are also super fresh, and there are subtle woody notes, with a hint of vanilla bean and light spices. The palate is super long, and very pure, powerful and focused. It drives deep and taut. Pinot noir is a strong core and the chardonnay sits at the edge offering lemon and white nectarine sorbet flavors. Staggeringly concentrated, yet the balance makes it seem airy and light. Acidity is perfectly positioned, and the power is intense and long. This is an ultra precise Cristal, finishing with a mere suggestion of savoriness and warmth to come. Impressive on release, this will be at its best drinking from 2025.

  • 100p

Tasted in August 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. One of the 20 champagnes tasted. Stylish, elegant, finesse, great complexity and fine aftertaste.

  • 94p

Cristal 2008 / 100 points / Tight, hugely promising nose still with restraint. There is immaculat purity and radiance to the chalk and toast nuanced nose full of cool, crisp fruit and baking spices complexity. A lovely feather light feeling yet fruit packed palate of fabulous electric vivacity. The finish is so long and mineral with a chalky bite promising great longevity. A wine that puts a big smile on my face.

  • 100p

The 2008 Cristal is a wine that takes over all the senses and never lets up. The brilliance and cut of the Chardonnay finds an extra kick of resonance from the Pinot Noir to carry the mid palate and finish in this stunningly beautiful, chiseled Champagne. Lemon oil, almond, flowers, dried herbs and Mirabelle plum are some of the many aromas and flavors that develop as the 2008 shows off its pedigree. The 2008 is a regal, towering Champagne from Roederer. That’s all there is to it.

  • 98p
Good looking normal size bottle, in an perfect condition and has by the neck level. Colour is green-yellow, and looking clear, bright and light. On the nose it is intense, youthful, opulent, fresh, generous and charming. The taste is full, rich, vigor, elegant, silky, and average in acidity, medium-bodied, with concentrated, well-integrated and multi-dimensional structure. On the palate it is layered and has citrus, steely, tropical fruits, truffles, vanilla, honey, apricot, white fruits and mineral flavours. The finish is long, gentle, extensive, lingering and flavorful. This wine is intelligent, excellent and masterpiece. I paid around 200-500€ a bottle. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 10-15 years, decant at least 15min before tasting and not a good invest wine. Good value for money.
- (Tasting note created by Tb's AI)
  • 99p
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Information

Origin

Reims, Champagne

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

None

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Inside Information

The Cuvée Cristal is the emblem of the prestigious Louis Roederer Champagne House. It is one of the most famous and exceptional cuvées in the world that is only produced when the expression of a vintage deserves to be immortalised.

After 10 years of ageing in the cool, dark chalk cellars of the House, the Cristal 2008 reveals a burst of purity and harmony.

Born from the greatest limestone terroirs, Louis Roederer's Cristal 2008 brings together the Grands Crus from the Montagne de Reims, the Marne Valley and the Côte des Blancs in a sumptuous blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%).

The Cristal 2008 represents all the typicity of its vintage that is unique and reflective of the Roederer style. From a dry, but cool year, exceptional density and power represent the 2008 vintage to give a perfect combination of concentration and freshness.

In a perfectly harmonious complexity, the Cristal 2008 reveals an intense bouquet in which candied citrus aromas give way to the indulgent pear and almond notes that are enhanced with toasty aromas. However, it is the palate that shows all the splendour of the Crystal 2008. With great power, the attack delivers all the strength of the limestone terroir that gives depth and a saline concentration, which testifies to the chalk from the terroir. The sensations from the first sip reveal an inimitable structure that embraces the palate with sweet liqueur flavours. The mouthfeel stretches beautifully until a finish full of freshness that leaves a lingering and delicious saline impression.

With the Cristal 2008, Louis Roederer represents the elaboration of one of the greatest masterpieces of the House similar to the excellent 2002 vintage. The Cristal 2008 is the perfection of Champagne.

 

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon and the team at Louis Roederer decided to release the very fine 2009 Cristal ahead of the more racy 2008 version, and this seems to have been a very good idea, as this decision has allowed the 2008 version to rest comfortably in the cellars for an additional year or two. In fact, the 2008 Cristal will be the first vintage of this wine to be released ten years out from the vintage. This is not the only exceptional aspect of the 2008 Cristal, as this is one of the very, very few vintages of this iconic wine that has included a small percentage of vins clairs that have gone through malolactic fermentation, as Monsieur Lécaillon observed that sixteen percent of the blend in 2008 is composed of wines that went through malo. The results are magical, as this small part of the blend that has undergone malolactic fermentation seems to have rounded off the snappy acids of 2008 a bit and given the wine an unprecedented textural accessibility out of the blocks that was not found in a similarly racy vintage like 1996, which was tensile and hermetically sealed when first released. Twenty percent of the vins clairs for the 2008 Cristal were barrel-fermented and the wine was finished with a dosage of 7.5 grams per liter. The wine is flat out stunning, offering up a pure and youthfully complex bouquet of apple, lemon, warm brioche, stunningly complex, chalky minerality, a touch of orange zest, fresh almond and a floral topnote redolent of lemon blossoms and mimosa. On the palate the wine is deep, fullbodied, complex and utterly seamless in its balance, with a great core, laser-like focus, utterly refined mousse and a very, very long, racy, complex and seamlessly balanced finish. This is a breathtakingly beautiful wine in the making! It is approachable today, but like all vintages of Cristal, the 2008 really deserves at least another decade in the cellar before starting to drink it with abandon. Disgorged September 2017. 2028-2095+

Score: 99John Gilman, View From the Cellar (74), May 2018

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