What lies behind Cristal's status as one of the most sought-after and collectible Champagnes? Giles Fallowfield explains how it's made and tastes eight recent vintages...
Cristal 2006-1979: a mini vertical
Louis Roederer, Cristal 2006
Intensely fresh, youthful, very lively with a pure chalky mineral note and grapefruit lifted acidity, quite linear.
Price: £118-£145 Champagne Direct, Harrods, James Nicholson, Justerini & Brooks, Latimer Vintners, Nickolls & Perks, The Whisky Exchange, Woodwinters
Louis Roederer, Cristal 2005
More open than the 2005 with floral perfumed notes, at once both delicate and concentrated with a touch of exotic fruit.
Price: £145-£149 Champagne Direct, James Nicholson, Justerini & Brooks, Majestic, Nickolls & Perks, The Whisky Exchange, Roberson, Winedirect
Louis Roederer, Cristal 2004
Good attack with ripe, vivid fruit character, good intensity of flavour
Price: POA Hedonism
Louis Roederer, Cristal 2002
Lively and fresh, but more open immediately showing greater richness, generosity and fruit intensity. Dense and concentrated with lovely balance and a long finish. Will age well.
Price: £173-£421 (magnum) Berry Bros & Rudd, Harrods, Hedonism, Justerini & Brooks, Latimer Vintners, Nickolls & Perks
Drink 2016 2045
Louis Roederer, Cristal 1999
Opens with youthful intensity, with citrus and red berry fruit followed by secondary toasty notes plus a hint of chocolate. Attractive, dense, fleshy palate. Powerful but silky, showing the ripeness of a warm mature vintage but with freshness on the finish
Price: £1,900 (double magnum) Bordeaux Index, Roberson
Louis Roederer, Cristal 1995
The star of the tasting boasts great complexity as a result of the perfect combination of long lees and post-disgorgement ageing. Gorgeous ripe fruit flavours with a spicy element mid-palate plus importantly, great textural richness and mouthfeel. Very long, harmonious and complex finish.
Price: POA Harrods
Alc 12 5%
Louis Roederer, Cristal 1990
Initially remarkably fresh, this is a powerful, vinous Champagne that opens up in the glass to show a luscious, almost unctuous richness. As Lécaillon observes, it’s a wine still with a long future ahead of it.
Price: £350 Bordeaux Index, Nicholls & Perks
Alc 12 5%
Louis Roederer, Cristal 1979
Golden coloured, this fully mature rich old Champagne is toasty and honeyed with a very ripe fruit element (mango and apricot) and has reached what Lecaillon describes as the start of the noble oxidative world with dry brown notes of tobacco. There’s mocha and chocolate there too.
Price: £500 Bordeaux Index