Champagne friends

We sample the tantalising 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal.

Few champagnes have created such interest – both before its release and as it hit the shelves – as the stunning 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal (RRP around AU$430). 2008 is one of the greatest vintages in Champagne in many years and Cristal is always a star.

It is unquestionably the finest vintage since 2002 and challenges some of recent classic years, such as 1996, 1990 and 1988 (Louis Roederer’s chef de cave, Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, has noted similarities between the 2008 Cristal and those from 1996 and 1988).

Production is around 400,000 bottles, which may seem a lot but when one considers that this number might have to be stretched across three to four years, and supply the entire world, it seems a far more miserly output.

2008 is a 60/40 split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, sourced from Grand Crus from Montagne de Reims, the Marne Valley and Côte des Blancs. Dosage is eight grams/litre, 16 percent malolactic fermentation and 20 percent vinified in oak.

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After eight to nine years on lees, this wine is brilliantly fresh and vibrant, with supreme elegance and ethereal grace.

Kumquat, nectarine, spice and glacéd lemon – a wonderful complexity. A minerally undertow and some bracing oystershell acidity, but balance and finesse. It is beautifully structured, with great length.

Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon says that in 30 years at Roederer this is his best Cristal, and even more importantly, it is “the most Cristal of Cristals.”

louis-roederer.com

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