New week, new Champagne list!
The House of Krug is celebrating the annual recreation of Krug Grande Cuvée by highlighting the parallels between conducting a symphony orchestra and composing Krug Grande Cuvée, the signature Champagne of the House, with a pop-up immersive exhibition, in the heart of London from the 7th to 11th of April. Tickets.
Eric Lebel, winemaker & Esa-Pekka Salonen, Principal Conductor
Monday morning, the cold and the snow got back to Sthlm … Let’s cheer up. We need a reason to open a great bottle of champagne today … Let’s celebrate St Patrick’s Day!
2006 LOUIS ROEDERER ‘CRISTAL’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Louis Roederer | 60PN 40CH | RJpoints 95(97)
TASTING NOTE Just fantastic from the start. A colossal power and beautiful rumbling pinot maturity. It’s like chewing on the ripest grapes from Aÿ and Verzenay. At the same time ultra stylish down all the unmistakable cristal essence, peach and mango sweetness, pineapple coconut, vanilla and unreal sprightly acidity and citrus flowery. Many similarities with 2002, but with a clearer pinot touch.
RJ ON CRISTAL
Cristal, just the name makes most of us burst into an enjoyable smile. Either we feel a historic reverence before the Russian tsar witch we have gratitude for the magical wine or that we associate the proudest of all champagne bottles and everything in its glittering wake. Think about all the classic film scenes which have been glorified by the clear bottle with its golden wrapping. Cristal is now the foremost choice in Hollywood when illustrating a luxurious situation, even thou Hip-Hop stars recently got pissed off that they did not get recognition from Louis Roederer despite their Cristal worship. However the symbol has already become so strong that it is impossible for the stars to get their fans to change to another brand.
That a music movement has appreciation for this world famous wine is well in order. What’s worst is when I was in Saint Tropez and saw young jetsetters squirting Cristal from magnum bottles in known racing drivers fashion just to show of their economic muscles, and unwittingly exposing their minimal brain capacity.
The history behind the mythical wine derives from the time when Russia was the largest export market for many of the famous champagne houses in Reims. Foremost reputation among the most powerful Russians had Louis Roederer. But the Russian tsar Alexander II was not satisfied with serving the same champagne as his subjects, so he called Louis Roederer to a meeting where it was decided that he would get his very own remarkable and fantastic bottle to show his guests. In 1876 he placed a special purchase order for the first transparent Cristal bottles with a flat bottom, which at that time were made of genuine crystal.
The wine was incomparably sweet and caused Roederer certain sales problems after the Russian revolution as they had unpaid invoices and a stock of sweet champagne that no one wanted. Rumors flourish frequently that there may still be bottles left from the days of the tsar in Russia, or on the bottom of the sea in sunken ships. How ever nothing suggests that any such bottles exist. After World War II Roederers management felt that it was time to renew the Russian connection when they wanted to find an equivalent to Moet & Chandons successful prestige champagne Dom Pérignon. It was an easy decision to reintroduce the tsar’s old bottle in a modern shape filled with a bubbly dry wine.
The wine is made since 1970 solely in stainless steel tanks with grapes from their own vineyards in Aÿ, Verenay,Verzy and and Cumiéres, mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Avize and Le Mesnil. It´s style is ultra sophisticated with a wild silky softness in combination with a nutty fireworks backed by exotic fruitiness in a caramel filled body. When Cristal is at it´s best I discover tones of everything that makes life worth living. In short one of the most perfect classic champagnes the world has to offer. Cristal Rosé is an even more expensive and uncommon product which has been cast in a similar form, but in it´s lovely figures it moves slightly more to strawberries with cream. It gets it´s color from contact with peelings from Pinot grapes which have grown on old grape vines in Aÿ. Composition of grapes is most often 70% Pinot Noire and 30 % Chardonnay. To me this rosé wine is without a doubt the worlds foremost rosé all categories.
How is the quality today seen from a historical perspective? In august 2007 I updated my already voluminous testing register of this fantastic wine at an extremely extensive Cristal testing at the great and now starred Solleröd Kro north of Copenhagen. A private Danish real enthusiast that performed the same type of testing last year of Dom Pérignon had collected the wines during thirteen years. The whole event was superbly conducted. The Scandinavian testing group enjoyed a wonderful day with colossal quantities of first class food and Cristal in equal amounts.
Winner this time was found among the middle aged wines. Most impressive where vintage 1979 and 1982, taken into account that older vintages cost a fortune purchase should be made among the younger vintages. It should how ever be mentioned that vintages 40-, 50-, and 60- when in perfect condition, are worth every penny. Below you can see what I consider be the quality of almost all vintages that has been produced during the beginning years of 2000. The left column reflects today’s status and the right its potential top ranking.
What then is the greatest Cristal ever made? If you want to learn it so I would suggest a dinner preceded by the 1988 Cristal Rosé and Cristal Rosé 1979 followed by a generous serving of duckliver with the 1949 and 1955. I hardly think that the old tsar would turn in his grave.
Richard Juhlin is the DWWA 2014’s Regional Chair for Champagne. Author of six books on Champagne, Juhlin is a freelance writer, runs The Richard Juhlin Champagne Club, and is currently working on a series about drinks and restaurants in Europe for American and Chinese TV. Through The Richard Juhlin Champagne Club he arranges events and tours to the region, and members have access to his Champagne bars in Sweden and a tasting note database.
Read the interview with Richard Juhlin below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I would love to be born today and have the rest of my life ahead of me. I think in that we live in a very exciting time where fewer people are poor, wars are less frequent and there is better understanding between cultures. I feel very positive about the future.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
I think I’d had a few sips already at the age of six but my first real wine moment was when I was eight. I had a small tasting of four lovely Rieslings with my parents in Trittenheim in the Mosel Valley.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
It varies, but somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 bottles. My most recent one is a bottle of 1982 Comtes de Champagne.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
My interest started in 1986 after a visit to Reims. By 1988 I was already hosting tastings but I only left my job as a sports teacher when I released my first Swedish book about Champagne, which was in 1995.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
A mixed case of 1985 Domaine de la Romanée Conti. I had the chance but thought it was too expensive at the time. I regret that now.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Chardonnay as per usual.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
Bolgheri, which for me is the best wine region outside of France. During my long summer holiday at Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina, Sicily, I drank a lot of the big names from Tuscany and rediscovered their greatness. They also tasted better in Southern Italy than at home in Scandinavia.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Serena Sutcliffe MW and Anselme Selosse.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
- My first gulp of a 1978 Chambertin Rousseau when I was 20 years-old, with a beef of elk.
- 1928 Pol Roger Grauves with black truffled chicken from Bresse.
- Tasting the first German white asparagus with Le Mesnil Champagne each spring.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
1985 Romanée Conti with John Cleese or 1979 Krug Clos du Mesnil with Michelle Pfeiffer.
☆ What are you most looking forward to about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Meeting all the fantastic wine tasters and discussing the beauty of Champagne with people who understand its greatness.
source: Decanter Magazine 7th of March 2014
M. Richard Juhlin was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by a decrete by the Président of the French Republic, M. François Hollande. The award was handed over to Richard Juhlin by the French amassador in Sweden, M. Jean-Pierre Lacroix duriing a ceremony at the French residence in Stockholm.
– ‘Richard Juhlin is one of the most wellknown and best Champagneconnoisseurs of Champagne. He has clasified more than 8 000 Champagnes, wich means that his Champagne database is the most most comprehensive review of the Champagne district and its wines ever made. It’s a great job. He is a true ambassador for Champagne-Ardenne region in Sweden and all over the world and this award is a way to thank him,’ says French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix .
Ptotographer Raphaël Cameron – Vanity Studios
STOCKHOLM 1st of JULY
This passed weekend Richard Juhlin has passed another milestone in tasted unique champagnes. As of today the database at champagneclub.com contains 8 099 tasted champagnes. For the first time 8 000 tastingnotes has been passed.
The Tasting Library of tasted Champagnes has been the basis fot the production of Richard Juhlin’s books on Champagne since 1995:
‘2 000 Champagnes’ 1997
‘3 000 Champagnes’ 2002
‘4 000 Champagnes’ 2005
‘Champagne Guide’ 2009
To have full acess to the database You need to be a member of Richard Juhlin Champagne Club. As a member of Champagne Club you have access to a couple of permanent features, listed on www.champagneclub.com. The main feature is of course Mr Richard Juhlin´s unique Tasting Library, and we encourage you to browse the search functions and acquaint yourself with the possibilities offered.
Richard Juhlin is by many considered the world´s no 1 champagne expert. There are many reasons for this ranking, for example his ability ta verbalize what he discovers in a wine, or his enormous feat in catalogizing all his evaluations (which in fact constitue the basis of this club and this website) – but the quintessence of the myth behind the man can perhaps best be summarized by telling the story about The Famous Tasting…
Ever since that day in Paris 2003, the story about Richard Juhlin´s incredible blind tasting of 50 different champagnes has been told around the dinner tables, where champagne lovers and the bubbly initiated has debated the plausability of this legendary feat.. The story itself has almost become just that, a legend, and strangely enough it has not always been taken for a factual description of an actual event. Well, maybe it is not so strange, since what happened that early September evening is nothing short of a surreal accomplishment that may never be repeated. So, did it really happen?
Of course it did! Richard Juhlin shocked the entire wine tasting world, and catapulted himself into a dimension of his own. For perspective you could compare Mr Juhlin´s result in this blind testing to an athletic accomplishment, and realize that it was not just a world record – it was a universal, galaxial, four dimensional record that left the competition in an odd state of humiliation and awe. These are the facts:
The French magazine Spectacle du Monde arranged, for several consecutive years, an extensive annual champagne tasting for a special issue with focus on champagne. There had been several attempts to lure Mr Juhlin to attend the tasting, due to his acclaimed expertise and skill, and finally, in 2003, he was able to attend. This year the tasting panel was blindly evaluate 50 champagnes, and also try to pinpoint the brand, the producer, the year… The tasting was very professional and the panel, consisting of a highly qualified international sommeliers and wine experts, enjoyed ample time to evaluate each champagne in perfect glasses with quick refills and temperature modulation. Mr Juhlin, given such prerequisites, activated his photographic sense of fragrance and immediately begun to recognize some of the contents. Eventually the puzzle started to take shape, and Mr Juhlin grew more and more comfortable that his evaluations and guesses were as educated as could be. When the tasting was completed, all participants had to relate their answers, and the turn came to Mr Juhlin. Going through the champagnes one by one, reasoning aloud on a few difficult particulars, Mr Juhlin accurately stated the brand, producer, and year…of 43 out of the 50 champagnes! The runner up, a former sommelier world champion, managed to correctly identify FOUR champagnes… Moreover Mr Juhlin had managed to identify the year of each of the seven champagnes that had escaped him. Needless to say the gathered audience as well as the other experts gasped for air in complete shock and disbelief, and voilà, a legend was born!
The story could have ended here, but there is a postludium that deserves to be mentioned. Mr Juhlin, very well aware of the difficulty in repeating such a feat, didn´t attend the tasting the next two years. He then showed at the same forum, but sat in on a tasting of standard champagnes, where blind indentification is virtually impossble due to the non-constand blends available. Everything was mainstream and relaxed until the two days of tastings came to an end, and the organizers couldn´t help but challenging Mr Juhlin again. The format this time was a duel, against another (sommelier) world champion, and the task at hand was to identify as many as possible among 20 rosé champagnes. Again, a blind tasting, but not completely referenceless, since both champions were told that the champagnes were among the rarest and the best of their kind. The other contestant found and identified 3 champagnes, while Mr Juhlin nailed all twenty!!
Since then, Mr Juhlin feels he no longer has anything to prove in this particular genre….