Grape: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Region: Champagne, France
Ageing Potential: 5-10 years
Perfect with: Rock Oysters
Why You’ll Love It?
Louis Rodederer Cristal is the world’s first prestige champagne. With it’s cellophane wrapping, flat bottom and clear bottle, there is no other bottle like it on the market. The Cristal was first served in Paris on 7 June 1867 as custom made Champagne at the Three Emperors’ Dinner requested by Wilhelm King of Prussia. The King requested a dinner to be remembered with no expense to be spared for himself and his guests, Tsar of Russia Alexander II and his son. The dinner was no small affair, stretching over 16 courses over a period of 8 hours (with cigar breaks).
Of course a dinner of this magnitude commanded wines of equal quality. The king employed Louis Rodederer himself to produce a bottle especially for this dinner. The grapes were sourced from the 1847 vintage and the champagne would have been around 20 years old at the time of the dinner. In order to show off the spectacular colour of the champagne and its bubbles, it was produced in a clear lead crystal bottle design.
Rumour has it that Alexander loved this Champagne so much, he requested it to be served as the palace wine and in 1876 the first Cristal was born. Because the Tsar had ruled during a particularly turbulent time where there had already been several assassination attempts on his life, he specifically asked for the bottle to be made from clear glass so he can detect any poison. The flat bottom was designed to prevent anyone hiding explosives in the indent that’s normally under every bottle.
The 2008 Cristal has been described as the best Cristal vintage - ever, admittedly even better than their 1996 vintage and certainly nothing comes close in the last 20 years and nothing will come close in next 10 years. This vintage was released in May this year, a year after the 2009 vintage as it needed an additional year of ageing on lees.