Looking For Substance in Cristal
I had an opportunity to try few of Louis Roederer Champagnes last weekend (to be politically correct, the first was California Sparkling Wine, not a Champagne). It was an interesting experience, as I was able to compare three of the well known sparkling wines, side by side.
California version, Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, was nice and refreshing, with some hints of an apple and balanced acidity. The next wine, Louis Roedered Brut Premier, had more pronounced acidity and probably a touch smaller bubbles. However, I believe that in the blind tasting, it would be extremely difficult to distinguish between the two. Both wines were also priced accordingly to their categories ( California Sparkling and Classic Champagne), at under $20 and about $35, respectively.
These two wines served as a very good prelude to the main point of the tasting – the famed Cristal Champagne. Cristal was created in the 1876, specially for the Russian Tsar Alexander II, who was afraid of possible assassination – so the bottle was made clear, with the flat bottom and therefore required reinforced crystal glass – hence the name Cristal (you can read more here). Of course it was not the first time when the wines were created, labeled and packaged for the special reasons or persons (and of course commanded much higher price) – most recent example was described by Dr. Vino in his Cuvee 88888888 post, talking about special Bordeaux production for China market. While I didn’t have a chance to try that Chateau Lafite-Rothschild masterpiece, I was able to try Cristal.
The wine I tasted was Cristal 2002, vintage Champagne. It was second time for me trying Cristal – I failed to recognize the value for the first time, and was really hoping that trying this wine as part of the tasting flight would help to put things in prospective. Yes, the wine was more interesting than the regular Brut non-vintage – it had a hint of yeast and fresh bread on the nose, and it was more creamy than the non-vintage version. However, this was still not enough to understand the value of this champagne, priced at almost six times the cost of non-vintage version ($196, minimum state-allowed price in Connecticut).
The magic didn’t work this time again – and I will keep trying, but for now, can I please have a glass of Krug…