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Cristal Champagne: All About it & How to Buy One

By
Thomas M.
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September 14, 2020

What’s the best way to buy a Cristal Champagne for your wine collection?


This golden bubbly has been a favorite of Champagne enthusiasts and pop stars alike since the late 1800s. It also scored a near-impossible 100 points on the Wine & Spirits magazine in 2002.


But, what makes the Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne so spectacular? Which vintages should you get hold of?


And, what’s the easiest way to buy one without worrying about counterfeits and unreasonable prices?


In this article, let’s explore everything about this famous Champagne. You’ll read all about its history, production processes, tasting notes, critics reviews, prices, and much more.


You’ll also discover the easiest way to buy, authenticate, store and even sell your Cristal champagne!


(If you’re keen to know how to store wines perfectly, read this article. And, to discover the smartest way to sell your wine, click here.)

This article contains:

(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)

Cristal Rose

Cristal Vinotheque

Cristal Rose Vinotheque

Brut Vintage

Rose Vintage

Blancs de Blancs vintage

Brut Premier

Carte Blanche  

An Introduction to the Legendary Cristal Champagne

Cristal is the flagship cuvée of the renowned Champagne house Louis Roederer in the Champagne region of France. It happens to be the largest family-owned Champagne house in the world.


It was founded in 1776 and was called Dubois Pere & Fils at that time. The company was later renamed after Louis Roederer inherited it from his uncle in 1833.


Cristal’s colorful history is worth a flashback. So here we go:

The History Behind Cristal Champagne

In the 1850s, Champagne became extremely popular among the Russian nobility. Roederer shipped a third of his production to Russia in 1855.


In 1867, it was served as a custom-made, 20-year old wine at a grand dinner in Paris attended by the Tsar Alexander II of Russia. It was made using grapes from the revered 1847 vintage and handcrafted by Roederer himself.


It was served in clear leaded, flat-bottomed crystal glass bottles to show off its beautiful golden hue.


The Tsar loved it and asked for it to be served as the palace wine. Thus, in 1876, the Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne went into full production to satisfy the Tsar’s demanding tastes.


This happened to be a period of political instability in Russia, and the Tsar feared assassination.


He ordered that for his royal banquet, the Louis Roederer Champagne should be presented in clear glass or crystal decanter - not in the typical dark green indented bottles. He wanted to be able to see it bubbling and be sure there are no explosives hidden beneath.


To meet the Tsar’s demands, Louis Roederer commissioned a Dutch glassmaker to create a clear lead-glass crystal bottle with a flat bottom. Since then, the Louis Roederer Champagne has been known as Cristal.


However, it was made commercially available only in 1945.

Cristal Champagne’s Association with Hip Hop Culture

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the brand was increasingly associated with hip hop music and culture. Several artists like R. Kelly and Sean Combs referred to “Crissy” in their lyrics, making it a household name.


However, things turned sour soon after.


Frédéric Rouzard, managing director of Louis Roederer, was asked whether he thought the brand's association with hip hop would damage their reputation. He retorted, “We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business."


After this, the hip hop community boycotted the wine. Rapper Jay-Z dropped the wine from his list at the 40/40 Club in New York and vowed never to drink it again. (Fun fact: Jay-Z bought the Champagne Armand de Brignac, also known as “Ace of Spades,” from Sovereign Brands in 2017.)


Despite being shunned by the rapper groups, Roederer’s Champagne continued to grow in popularity worldwide.


Let’s look into other interesting aspects of the Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne.

Grape Varietals and Production Processes

Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne is typically a blend of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir (without skin) grapes.


The annual production is 300,000 to 400,000 bottles.


Two-thirds of the grapes needed for the production are sourced from the 240-acre Louis Roederer vineyard. This is rare for Champagne houses as most of them do not grow their own grapes - they source it from across the region.


So it is noteworthy that Roederer had acquired the finest land even in the mid-19th century and nurtured his vineyards with an astute knowledge of their unique characteristics.


These vineyards are in the best terroirs of Champagne, in the Grand Crus and Premiers Crus of the Côte des Blancs, Montagne de Reims, and the Vallée de la Marne.


The chalky soil gives the grapes an exquisite minerality. This enables the vines to attain exceptional fruit maturity that lends a crystalline acidity to the wines.


This exquisite sparkling wine is made from the oldest vines (25 to 60 years old) grown in the Louis Roederer estate under the careful supervision of Chef de Cave (cellar master) Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon.


It is always a vintage Champagne and is produced only in the best vintages in the Champagne region. In the 2010s, only the 2006, 2007, and 2009 vintages were released.

What is unique about the Rose Cristal?

The Rose Cristal was first released in 1974. While it contains more Pinot noir, it gets its coloring from red wine rather than Pinot noir grape skins. This is called the saignée method.

Biodynamic farming in the Roederer Vineyards

Recently, the Cristal vineyards have moved to biodynamic farming techniques - using solely natural and organic products, and no chemical pesticides.


Although 2008 and 2009 were organically made, 2012 is the first Cristal vintage to be produced from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes.

Aging Potential - A Champagne Worth Cellaring

The final blend of a Cristal Champagne Louis Roederer is matured for six years in Louis Roederer's cellars and rested for 8-12 months after disgorgement before the wines are released into the market.


This sparkling wine can age in the bottle for at least 20 years, or more, without losing its character and freshness.


As it ages, it turns a deep golden.

How much does Cristal Champagne Cost?

You can expect a price tag of anywhere above $200.


Like a few other prestigious wines, Cristal Champagne is considered as a Veblen good. This means that its demand goes up with price because of its exclusivity and “status symbol” appeal - quite contrary to the law of demand.


You’d wonder:

Why is Cristal so expensive?

The secret behind this luxury wine is hand-harvested grapes from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards, and high-quality craftsmanship.


The grape vines used to make the sparkling wine in the Grand Cru designated property are older and low yielding. They’re cropped at the beginning, and the soil is tilled using traditional methods. Some parts are even plowed by horses.


In the winery, each block of grapes is fermented separately. During the final Champagne blend, the winemakers decide on a vision of the wines they want to produce.

How much has the price of Cristal Champagne appreciated over the years?

On average, Cristal wines have appreciated around 40% in the 2010s.


  • Cristal 2005 appreciated 30% from $133 in 2018 to $158 in 2019.


  • Cristal 1996 experienced an 83% price rise (from $327) during the 2014-2016 period and is now valued at $440 in 2020.


  • A case of Cristal 1989 went up 40% from 2007 to $6,400+ in 2008.


  • Cristal Rose 2007 has gone up 27% (from $372 to $433) during the same period.

Cristal Champagne Packaging

Cristal still comes in clear flat-bottomed bottles.


But, they are no longer made with leaded crystal. You’ll find these bottles wrapped in gold foil to protect the age-worthy white wine from UV damage.


This gold foil adds an extra flourish on the bottle and has become a signature part of the brand.


Here are all the prestigious wines from the renowned winemaker.



Champagnes from the house of Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer Champagne can be classified as prestige cuvees, vintages, and multi-vintages.

1. Prestige Cuvee

A. Cristal

This is the first Cuvée de Prestige (Prestige Cuvée) of Champagne, created by Roederer in 1876 for the Russian Tsar.


This Prestige Cuvee is made from a perfect balance of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, with 32% vinified in oak casks.


The 2012 vintage has a chalky freshness with a crystalline finesse and is long and concentrated. You’ll love the rich and complex aroma with notes of lemon zest dusted brioche, white flowers, roasted hazelnut and Madagascar vanilla. As it ages, the bouquet develops notes of fresh pastries and smoke.


The 2008 Cristal opens on a fascinating nose with its complex bouquet of ripe and matured fruits, chalk, and brioche expressions. The palate is fresh and filigreed but concentrated, full of tension and vibrant. Jean-Baptise Lécaillon referred to it as the “Chevalier Montrachet of Champagne."


Cristal is best served at 12°C with white fish and white meats. It is best to drink between 2020 and 2035.


Current price: $190+ (Cristal 2012), $240+ (Cristal 2008)

B. Cristal Rose

Cristal Rose is made from a 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay blend. It is aged for six years in the cellars and kept for almost eight months after disgorging to attain the required maturity.


The 2012 Cristal Rose is a dry, full-bodied wine with the taste of cherries, berries, and toast. Wine critic James Suckling describes it as intense, mouth-filling, and deep. It has chalky, peach and nectarine aromas that underpin flowers and fruits.


The 2012 Cristal Brut Rosé is best to drink between 2027 and 2050.


Current price: $620+ (Cristal Rose 2012)

C. Cristal Vinotheque

A limited number of Cristal Vinothèque bottles are aged “sur lattes” (stacked horizontally) for around ten years.


A small amount of wine is mixed with sugar (dosage) and added to the wine between the disgorging and final corking stages. The dosage amount would be lower than usual.


These bottles would then be aged in the Vinothèque (cellar), on their corks, for another ten years.


Vinotheque 1996 in intense, complex, and concentrated and forms tight bubbles in the glass. The nose opens with the aroma of fruits like ripe pear and apple fruit - unusual for a 22-year-old wine. You’ll also get scents of apricot, candied lemon, yuzu and citrus fruit. After aeration the aroma evolves to chalk, smoke, hazelnut, hot stone, mocha, and pastries.


Current price: $1,130+ (Cristal Vinotheque 1996)

C. Cristal Rose Vinotheque

Cristal Rose Vinotheque is made of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It is aged in a bottle on lees for 10 years and left to rest for another 10 years after disgorgement. (Lees are the deposits of yeast and other precipitated particles.)


In the 1996 vintage, you’ll get complex aromas of hazelnuts, dried fruit, cocoa beans and lemon. Once aerated, notes of roasted pine nuts and sugared almonds emerge. It has a silky texture and offers a long, sensuous finesse with a smoke finish.


Current price: $2,880+ (Cristal Rose Vinotheque 1996)



2. Cuvee Vintages

A. Brut Vintage

The Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Vintage is made of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, 8%-30% of which is wine matured in oak casks.


To attain perfect maturity, this Brut Champagne is matured on lees for four years and left for around six months after disgorging.


The 2012 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Vintage has a talc-like chalkiness coating your palate initially. It is rich and full-bodied with a silky texture. Its subtle bouquet on the nose opens out to reveal spring-like notes of a lemon tree, patisserie pear, and lightly toasted almonds.


Current price: $60+ (Brut Vintage 2012)

B. Rose Vintage

The Rose Vintage is made from 65% Pinot noir and 35% Chardonnay, 20% of which is wine matured in oak casks.


The grapes for the Rose Vintage are sourced from vineyards at Cumières with shallow, calcareous clay soil. The terroir enables the grapes here to attain optimum phenolic maturity.


Like the other Cristal wines, this one is also matured on lees for four years and left for at least six months after dégorgement to attain perfect maturity.


The rich, full-bodied wine has the fruity aroma of wild berries, dried fruit, and cocoa followed by floral notes. You’ll also get the sugary, spicy fragrance of zest.


Current price: $58+ (Rose Vintage 2012)

C. Blancs de Blancs vintage

The grapes for this 100% Chardonnay wine are sourced from the Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize grand crus with calcareous soils ideal for the maturity of these grapes.


The Blanc de Blancs is taut, aromatic wines, markedly sweet and smooth. It has notes of flowers, white fruit and dried fruit along with the chalky minerality of the Côte des Blancs.


Current price: $65+ (Blanc de Blanc 2011)



3. Multi vintages

Multi vintage Cristal wines were created after more than half of the Roederer estate was destroyed in the early 1990s.


During this time, Roederer decided to buy grapes to ensure the continuity of the Champagne house and to create a multi-vintage with a consistent flavor, whatever the harvest year.

A. Brut Premier

Brut Premier is made from 40% Pinot noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. It is stored in a cellar for three years and left for at least six months after dégorgement.


Champagne Brut Premier’s style has harmony, elegance, and structure with notes of apple, white peach, patissière, soil tones and smoke. On the palate, the Brut Champagne is full-bodied and crisp, with great mid-palate depth and a long, complex finish.


Current price: $45

B. Carte Blanche

 

This multi-vintage is made from grapes grown in over 40 different plots.


Like the Brut Premier, Carte Blanche is made from 40% Pinot noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier. It is aged in cellars for three years and kept for over six months after dégorgement.


This wine has a creamy finesse, with refined acidity and a delicate freshness. It has notes of the ripeness of fruit with caramelized accents and the flavor of ground almonds and honey.


Current price: $50+



How to Buy Cristal Champagne

You would find Cristal Champagnes at boutique wine shops, wine auction sites like Sotheby's, and other wine websites and stores.


But, you’ll find it difficult to know whether you paid the right price and sometimes, you couldn’t be sure whether you bought an authentic bottle or not! You’ll also have to pay hefty commissions and fees in most cases.


If you’re buying a Cristal to add to your investment portfolio, you’d have to put in a considerable amount of research on prices, market trends, and more to know the right time to buy and sell it.


There’s a far easier solution.


You could entrust a wine investment company like Vinovest to buy, store, and sell your Cristal Champagne at the most attractive prices!


Let’s see how this works.


Buy Cristal Champagne and Other Renowned Wines through Vinovest


Vinovest is a team of world class wine experts that buys, authenticates, stores, and sells your wine bottles for you.


If you wish to pop open your bubbly to celebrate an occasion, you can have the Champagne bottle delivered to your doorstep.

How does it work?

It's incredibly simple. You only need to follow these four steps:


  1. Sign up on the Vinovest website.
  2. Fill up a questionnaire for Vinovest to assess your investment preferences and risk appetite.
  3. Add funds to your account - a minimum of $1000.
  4. Track your fine wine portfolio online.

Benefits of buying wines via Vinovest

Here’s why you should buy, store, and sell your wines through Vinovest.


Easy buying and selling of wines

Buying and selling wines couldn’t get simpler than on Vinovest’s Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based online platform. You can easily have a coveted French wine or wines from anywhere in the world added to your portfolio.


Best prices

Vinovest sources your wines directly from wine makers, global wine exchanges, and wine merchants. This means you’re buying wines at the best possible wholesale prices!


Provenance and authenticity

Vinovest authenticates every single bottle and traces its provenance before you buy them. So, you won't have to deal with counterfeit bottles.


Optimal storage

Vinovest stores your wine bottles safely in bonded warehouses, under perfect conditions of light, humidity, vibration, and temperature.


Curated portfolio of Cristal Champagne and other wines

An expert team of Sommeliers and data scientists curates your portfolio with proprietary financial models that use historical data. You can access your wine online anytime.


Insurance and security

Be sure that your wines are safe under the eyes of 24/7 security cameras. Power back-ups ensure the perfect climate control in case the primary method fails. There’s also a comprehensive insurance policy to protect your cellar always.


Low overall costs

Besides adding funds to your account, you need to pay a 2.85% annual fee (or 2.5% for a portfolio above $50,000). This will cover wine purchases, authentication, storage, a full insurance policy at market value, portfolio management, and selling your bottles. You’ll also enjoy tax advantages as bonded warehouses don’t charge VAT and excise duty.


Easy delivery of wines

Once sold, Vinovest will safely deliver your wines to your buyer. If you wish to drink your Cristal, Cabernet Sauvignon or Dom Perignon, you can have it delivered to your home.


Ownership

Best part? You own every single wine you buy through Vinovest.

To wrap up:

Cristal Champagne is one worth your cellar - whether for a celebratory splurge or as a long-term investment that could fetch you a fortune when you sell it.


You may get hold of one through a boutique wine store, online platform or an auction. But, you’ll never know whether you’re holding an authentic bottle, or if you bought it at the best price!


Your smartest option is to buy, store, and sell your Cristal Champagne, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other wines through Vinovest.


So, why not sign up now and get your wine portfolio built right away?




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