Our Score: 96
Cristal, a special cru from Louis Roederer, was first produced exclusively for Czar Alexander II in the second half of the nineteenth century. It takes its name from the material used to craft a special bottle with a flat bottom.
This excellent biodynamic Champagne combines elegance and power, boldness and precision like no other wine. At the nose, almond croissant and cut yellow peaches, honeysuckle, white and wet stones. A great experience in the palate as well, with hazelnut, Mirabelle plum integrated with an important chalky and limestone minerality, before the yeasty note of pain-brioche, and the floral-dry-fruity finish. It is complex and long, persistent and intense.
A unique experience.
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
Pairing: Oysters, crab, caviar. Sardinian bottarga with datterini tomatoes, white wine-braised artichokes with John Dory or wild Alaskan salmon and rapini. It pairs great with a light curry sauce, or a sashimi, or a Peking duck.
Very flexible. During an informal evening, try it with pizza or pasta cacio e pepe. It will surprise you.
Appellation: Champagne AOC, France
Champagne AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée) is an appellation of sparkling wines rigidly defined by three elements:
1. The grapes need to be grown and vinified in the specific geographical area East of Paris, between Reims, Epernay and la Vallée de la Marne.
2. Grapes can only be Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier;
3. The fermentation method is in 2 phases: the wine is first fermented in large tanks then filtered before undergoing a second fermentation in the bottle for as many years as the winemaker decides. The best champagne stays on the yeast in the bottle for as much as 7-10 years before being put on the market.
More than 300 million bottles of Champagne are produced every year in an area of 34,000 hectares (roughly 85,000 acres).
Interesting anecdote: Wines that use the same vinification method (a second fermentation in the bottle) BUT are grown and vinified in French regions other than Champagne (or elsewhere in the world beyond France), cannot be named Champagne. In France they are called Crèmant de… followed by the region of origin; in Italy they are called Metodo Classico (Franciacorta DOCG, Trento DOC); in Spain they are called Cava, from the region of origin.