2015 Louis Roederer Cristal
James Suckling | 97 JS
I have tasted the 2015 Cristal three times so far - once as part of an extensive vertical I will be reporting on shortly, and then later in my office. Those tastings paint a portrait of a complex Champagne that is still finding its center. Tasted at the maison, the 2015 is rich, dense and explosive, with tremendous textural intensity and also a good bit of energy to back it up. Citrus confit, spice, ginger, chalk and dried flowers abound in a Champagne endowed with tremendous aromatic presence in a style that offers notable richness, but lighter than vintages such as 2012. There is a bit of the savoriness that is such a signature of the year, but it is nicely integrated in the wine’s fabric. Two later tastings in my office strongly suggest the 2015 has already started to shut down a bit, which is a shame, as it may be hard to read for some time to come. Dosage is 7 grams per liter. Disgorged: November 2022.
Vinous Media | 96 VM
If the 2014 vintage was especially open and demonstrative, the 2015 Cristal is going to require more patience. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of citrus oil, crisp stone fruits, white flowers, crushed mint and subtle hints of buttery pastry, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, with a deep, concentrated and rather introverted core of fruit framed by chalky extract and animated by a pretty pinpoint mousse. This is a serious, vinous Champagne that has considerable substance to age and may well evolve along the lines of the lovely 1985.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95+ RP
An open and inviting nose references cream, oatmeal and Amalfi lemon with the slightest edge of smoke. The palate immediately strikes with a mouthwatering lemon ripeness and a juicy, mouthfilling generosity reminiscent of yellow plum. It stays true to the trademark sleekness of Cristal and speaks of the concentration of 2015. Fine mousse accentuates the fullness and roundness of the wine while the long finish hints at chalky depth which, for now, is dominated by ripe stone fruit and more of that textured, rich notion of oatmeal. Definitely a Cristal to enjoy soon.
Decanter | 95 DEC
Wine Details for 2015 Louis Roederer Cristal
|Type of Wine||Champagne White|
: The Champagne blend is one of the most distinctive styles of winemaking in the world. This illustrious blend of grape varietals hails from northeastern France, in the winegrowing region of Champagne. The magical combination of varietals perfectly marry to the terroir, climate and topography of the region, creating a sexy, seductive and fascinating sparkling wine that is synonymous with success and celebration.
The primary grape varietals cultivated in Champagne and most used for blending are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In fact, there are seven permitted grape varieties in the Champagne AOC (controlled designation of origin) though the other four are so rarely used they are often forgotten (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc Petit Meslier and Arbane). The three grape varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier account for about 99% of the region’s plantings. Chardonnay is planted to 10,117 hectares, Pinot Meunier is planted to 10,521 hectares while the most widely planted, Pinot Noir, covers around 12,950 hectares.
Chardonnay brings crisp and refreshing nuances to the effervescent wine blend. When used as a single-variety offering, the wines are named Blanc de Blancs, and account for only around 3% of all Champagne bottlings. Pinot Noir is the staple in Champagne blends and interestingly, is planted in more hectares in Champagne than its ancestral home of Burgundy. It is one of just two allowable red grapes in the region. Pinot Noir brings body and mouth-filling structural texture to the blend. When used as a single-variety its creation is called Blanc de Noirs (white wine made from black-skinned grapes). Pinot Meunier, the other red grape permitted in Champagne brings red berry flavors and balances the overall blend. Though historically a blending grape, 100% Pinot Meunier Champagne wines are becoming increasingly popular.
Champagne has privileged environmental influences that give the wines produced here specific, unique characteristics that are often imitated but never duplicated. Its northern location, rugged climate, distinctive soil type and hillside vineyards makes Champagne terroir the only one of its kind. The first distinguishing factor is that Champagne enjoys a dual climate influenced by oceanic currents and continental winds. The oceanic currents help to keep the temperatures cooler, while the continental influence brings precipitation which are both essential for quality grape production.
Terroir is the second major component to the success of the grapes of Champagne to grow and prosper. It is composed mostly limestone (75%) chalk and marl with a limestone subsoil. The fissured medium provides good drainage, promoting the health and development of the vines. Each soil type is important to the stages of development. The chalk in Champagne consists of granules of calcite formed from fragile marine shells and micro-organisms. This highly porous compound assists in water movement into the root system. The limestone, being less porous allows the right amount of water to be collected while restricting erosion. Marl is just as important and contains highly rich minerals which allows the growth of berries with intense flavors.
The third distinguishing factor is the gift of Champagne’s natural landscape where the rugged and hilly terrain greatly assists in water drainage and root growth. The average gradient is around 12% with some of the slopes reaching grades as steep as 59%. The higher elevations receive greater sunlight than lower elevations at the same latitude. This feature alone creates diverse micro-climates within the region allowing grapes grown in different locations and at different Champagne houses to have unique characteristics.
The varietals of Champagne, the terroir of the region along with the oceanic and continental climatic influences come together to create one of earth’s most breathtaking wine styles. From the many styles and offerings, Brut (dry, raw or unrefined) to rose, vintage to non-vintage, Champagne blends offer to the world a euphoric, effervescent experience that cannot be matched.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: The sharp, biting acidity, cutting through the richness; the explosive force that shatters the bubbles as they rise to the surface; the intense flavor and compelling, lively mouthfeel; these are all hallmarks of a good Champagne. Most wines are made from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, but there are pure-Chardonnay variants and ones that blend only Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. As a result, most wines come with a feeling of familiarity, if not nostalgia. Each Champagne house has its own unique style, so different bottles of Champagne may not resemble each other outside of the core varietal strengths. The soil composition of the subregion is characterized by belemnite and chalk, which lets it absorb heat during the daytime and release it at night. This terroir helps create the feeling of airy, playful lightness of fine sparkling wine.
These wines were originally marketed towards royalty, and you can feel a hint of that elusive blue-blood elegance and confidence while drinking one. A good Champagne carries you away like a hurricane carries small debris, and you can feel the powerful life force in each bubble even. The characteristic Champagne "pop" has become a staple at parties and celebrations around the globe - when you hear it, good times are right around the corner.
: Cristal Champagne is one of the sexiest, most seductive and exhilarating names in the world of wine. Synonymous with success, luxury and merriment, the label is the pinnacle of fine winemaking making in the region of Champagne. Individuals are so infatuated with the Cristal label that they are perhaps, unaware that the proprietor, Louis Roederer, produces an entire line-up of stellar sparklers with diverse styles and essences that are just as thrilling. Long before the luxury Champagnes of Roederer were highlighted in music videos and coasting the waves on superyachts, they were being handcrafted and supplied to the imperial court of Russia, the Royal Court of England and US dignitaries. However the world portrays its extravagance, the Louis Roederer experience is defined first and foremost by the art of Champagne making.
Established in 1776, under the name Dubois Pere & Fils, like many Champagne houses at the time, the company enjoyed its share of success, but it would not be until 1833, when Louis Roederer inherited the estate from his uncle, that its fame and reputation would rise to unheralded heights. He renamed the house eponymously, and took a visionary approach to enriching his vines, aiming to master every stage of the wine’s creation. In 1847, he acquired 15 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards of Verzenay. While other houses purchased their grapes, Louis Roederer nurtured his vineyards, familiarized himself with the specific characteristics of each parcel and methodically acquired the finest land, which again materialized in 1850 when he purchased another 100 hectares of Champagne’s Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. His guiding principle was that all great wine depends on the quality of the soil, a passion for tradition and an astute vision of the future. This strategy is still a core component of the House’s continuing development.
Today, the vineyards of Louis Roederer span 240 hectares (90% Premier and Grand Cru) in some of Champagne’s finest terroirs of Montagne de Reims, Vallee de la Marne and Cote des Blancs. Roederer cultivates the three traditional grape varieties of the region: Chardonnay for its minerality, finesse and elegance, Pinot Noir’s solid structure and age-ability and Pinot Meunier’s adaptability which brings harmony and softness to certain cuvees. Their plot-by-plot approach to vine cultivation, which takes into account the specificities of the different soils, enables them to produce exceptionally mature grapes. As is their belief, the land is the source of all great Champagnes.
In addition to their world-renowned, award-winning Cristal line-up (including Rose, Vinotheque and vintage Cristals) the effervescent portfolio of Louis Roederer is heaving with an array of tremendous and unique wines, each showcasing the essence of grape variety and its sense of place. The wines include, Brut Premier, Carte Blanche, Collection (a blend of multiple vintages and terroirs) Blanc de Blancs (from the esteemed Cote des Blancs) Vintage, Rose Vintage and Brut Nature. They wines are a testament to the Roederer family who have tenderly fostered a unique bond between grape and terroir. The collection has an impressive annual output of 3.5 million bottles, exporting to over 100 countries around the globe.
Louis Roederer remains one of the few independent, family-owned houses in Champagne and is now managed by Frederic Rouzaud, who represents the seventh generation of the family’s lineage. As a direct decedent of Louis Roederer, it could be said that wine runs through his veins; with the same patience and unshakeable faith in creative vocation to Champagne winemaking, Rouzaud is not only perpetuating the greatness that is Louis Roederer, but elevating its reputation and broadening its horizons with its sister companies abroad. Today, Frederic is the driving force of Maison Louis Roederer’s wineries in France, Portugal and California (Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley, CA).