Louis Roederer Cristal 2008
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The 2008 vintage was characterized by an unusually dry and cool summer and undoubtedly falls into the ‘continental’ vintage category: dense and powerful owing to its exceptional concentration. Nevertheless, the unusually cool temperatures over the summer made their mark on the vintage, giving it a remarkable intense and saline freshness.
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 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.
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!
James SucklingDisgorged 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.
Wine EnthusiastThis latest incarnation of the famous brand is a superb wine. It is on par with, maybe even better than, the already legendary 2002. Its balance is impeccable: Apple and citrus flavors working with the tight minerality to give a textured yet fruity wine. Produced from Roederer's own vineyards which are mainly biodynamic, the wine has its own intense purity and crispness. It has amazing potential and is likely to age for many years. Drink from 2020.
DecanterCristal 2008 is on a roll to yet higher levels of exquisite purity and precision of fruit in a paradoxical balance of weightlessness and depth of flavour, permeated with minerals and a salinity reflecting the greatest terroirs of the Roederer estate. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon believes that 2008 is his best effort to date, and it's easy to see why. It's from a cooler, maritime vintage that came right in the end, with one of the longest harvests ever, running from mid-September to early October. The colour is a stylish pale gold flecked with green. Aromas of white flowers are joined by a cleansing citrus vigour and richer tones of peach and mirabelle. The palate is still quiet, but a tender creaminnes shows through, and there's so much concentration to come if you drink if after 2021. The greatness of the wine owes everything to the influence of organic and biodynamic precepts in the field - and Lecaillon's sleepless perfectionism in the cellar towards finer fruit and a careful brake on too much yeasty expression. The acidity is vibrant but better integrated in the 2008 than in the 1996. Magnificent. Dosage 7.7g/l.
VinousThe 2008 Cristal is a real head-turner. Powerful, ample and explosive in all of its dimensions, the 2008 takes hold of the sense and never lets up. There is a crystalline purity to the flavors that is simply remarkable. Although still a baby, the 2008 looks like it will soon take its place alongside the greatest Cristals. Today, it is breathtaking.
Wine AdvocateLet's start describing the 2008 Cristal technically first. It is a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 36 plots in seven grands crus: Verzy, Verzenay, Beaumont and Aÿ for the Pinot Noir and Mesnil, Avize and Cramant for the Chardonnay. Twenty-five percent of the wine was fermented in oak, and 16% underwent malolactic fermentation to moderate the fresh acidity of the 2008 vintage. The assemblage was bottled in May 2009. After 8.5 years on the second lees (longer than any Cristal before), the first release was disgorged in September 2017 with a relatively low dosage of 7.5 grams per liter. So, here is how it tastes as a "young" cuvée: The 2008 Cristal opens bright, super clear, fresh and pure on the exciting, absolutely fascinating nose with its fine, complex and elegant bouquet of gorgeously ripe and matured fruits, brioche and chalk expressions. This is the finest you can get from Champagne. The palate is pure, lean, fresh and filigreed but concentrated, highly complex, full of tension and enormously vibrant. This is a great vin de terroir, a dense and elegant Super-Cristal that goes straight and precise as a laser beam over the palate but also has texture in the form of sensually fleshy fruit. The dosage, however, is the lowest ever: just 7.5 grams. The endless and highly tensioned finish is complex, citrusy fresh, full of chalk and crystalline finesse. The 2008 Cristal is a vitalizing drug, "the Chevalier Montrachet of Champagne," as Jean-Baptise Lécaillon puts it. It is the most exciting 2008 Champagne I have tasted thus far (May 2018).