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1996 Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne
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- Closure: Cork
Louis Roederer is unique in Champagne owning two-thirds of the vineyards for their total production covering the PinotNoir sub regions of “Montagne de Reims” and “Vallee de la Marne” with Chardonnay from the “Cotes des Blanc”. By 1995, recent acquisitions had increased Louis Roederer's holdings from 180 hectares to nearly 190 hectares, ranking 97.5% on the official classification scale. In 1876, Tsar Alexander II asked that his personal champagne be presented in crystal bottles, thus giving rise to the very first prestige cuvee. Today, the Cristal bottle exemplifies the quest for perfection which inspires the House of Louis Roederer to provide its demanding and refined clientele withexceptional Champagnes.
Pinot Noir 55%, Chardonnay 45%. Dosage: 11gms/litre. The "liqueur dosage" is prepared from a selection of 8-10 of the very best crus from Louis Roederer vineyards, which have been aged for 4-10 years in oak.
After a grey, cool winter, very little rain fell during the entire growing season. Early June was particularly warm presenting favourable growing conditions, but the last ten days were much cooler and upset the flowering of the Chardonnay, causing severe “millerandage” (uneven development and size of the berries). Under these very dry conditions, all the grape varieties in Champagne, and especially the Chardonnay, produced bunches with small berries, and as a result yields were low. This in turn was favourable for the maturation of the grapes and theconcentration of aromas. The month of September was sunny but not particularly warm, with some infrequent periods of light rain. These conditions allowed maturation to advance exceptionally well, and the grapes attained very high sugar and acidity levels, and at the same time very small concentrated berries. There was no infection of Botrytis or Grey Rot. At the blending stage, the base wines showed great aromatic depth. There was beautiful fullness on the palate, with an almost creamy texture, and enormous power, all backed up by remarkable acidity. Jean-Claude Rouzaud said : “At the close of primary fermentation, it is possible to detect great potential for vintage quality in these still young wines. With forty-one of Champagne’s finest crus in our vats, there is every likelihood that Louis Roederer will produce great wines from the 1996 harvest.”
Cristal is made from the finest cuvees pressed from the highest quality grapes from the Champagne Louis Roederervineyards. Today it is still produced in limited quantities, always as a vintage wine and only in exceptional years. A truly fine Champagne, Cristal is characterised by its finesse and elegance (derived from the high proportion of Chardonnay in the blend), and its enticingly delicate bouquet and perfect balance.
Tasting Note: Ripe yellow colour with pastel green-gold highlights. Rich and ripe bouquet with juicy fruit aromas (yellow and white peaches and apricot) - with a generous sweetness indicating a powerful wine, and just a hint of brioche. The palate attacks full and round with the fine, creamy mousse supporting a powerful wine. The full concentration, characteristic of the 1996 vintage, is very evident here. A vinous finish with both freshness and finesse and quite impressive persistence. Time in bottle will see Cristal Brut 1996 develop into an even more beautifully, harmonious wine.
Serve well chilled. Richly perfumed, Louis Roederer Cristal 1996 is an exquisite aperitif or celebratory Champagne. The strength and finesse of Cristal 1996 make it an excellent accompaniment to delicate dishes including shellfish such as scallops, lobster and crayfish, John Dory fish and caviar.