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new vintage: 2005 bollinger ‘vieilles vignes françaises’ 13 november 2014

It’s not everyday that one has the opportunity to taste  a new vintage of one of Champagnes true legendary wines – Bollinger ‘Viewless Vignes Françaises’. (mer…)

lunch with champagne deutz 9 november 2014

August Strindberg and his bohemic friends discussed politics and poetry all day long in this dining room, which is named from his book, Röda Rummet. The book was published in 1879. Richard & Björnstierne was invited to lunch @ Röda Rummet Berns Asiatiska by Fabrice Rosset, CEO of Champagne Deutz to taste 5 new releases on the Swedish market.

Bern Röda Rummet Berns Röda RummetBerns Asiatiska

nv DEUTZ ‘BRUT CLASSIC’ | Aÿ | 38PN 32PM 30CH | SBnr 7487 | 380 SEK |  TASTINGNOTE  ‘The Champagne is always of a high quality, but has previously been sold too early. If you put the wine aside for a few years in the cellar, a fine, bready note will develop, which will tone down the exaggerated apple-like fruit. I tasted a couple of bottles at the beginning of 2001 that already had a classic maturity. Very good, exuberant, and complex at the moment. I hope this tendency continues.’  RJpoints 76(84)

1995 DEUTZ ‘MILLIÉSIME VINOTHÈQUE’ | Aÿ | 60PN 10PM 30CH  | 1 349 SEK | Swedish allocation 36 bottles | TASTINGNOTE  ‘It feels like Deutz vintage wine has finally found its true self. Classic, irresistible style, without forgetting its past. Everything is in its place in a totally satisfying way. Mature Pinot Noir and sublime, crispy fruit in lovely harmony.’  RJpoints 96(96)

1995 DEUTZ ‘BLANC de BLANCS VINOTHÈQUE’ | 100CH  | 1 349 SEK | Swedish allocation 48 bottles |  TASTINGNOTE  ‘40% Le Mesnil-sûr-Oger, 50% Avize & 10% Villers Marmery.  Fantastic and indeed somewhat oilier than the usual issue. I suppose that the autolytic character will give this wine an amazing base for acceleration a little further on in the future.’ RJpoints 96(96)

2002 DEUTZ ‘CUVÉE WILLIAM DEUTZ’ | 62PN 11PM 27CH  | 1 100 SEK | Swedish allocation 360 bottles | TASTINGNOTE  ‘Pinot Noir: 62%, from vineyards in Ay, Mareuil-sûr-Aÿ, Bouzy, Louvois and Ambonnay. Chardonnay: 27%, from vineyards in Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with a small proportion from the Montagne de Reims. Pinot Meunier: 11% from vineyards in Pierry and Chatillon-sur-Marne. Golden hue with crystal glints. Extremely fine bubbles. Delicate, rich and complex on the nose, developing floral and cooked white peach aromas, underpinned by lovely honey-sweet notes of spice and candied ginger. Well defined and clean on entry. Captivating, rich and full on the palate, the champagne releases a mélange of delicate cherry, wild peach and honey aromas. Its fine, harmonious balance shows promise. The finish is silky, complex and refined, with long lingering aromas.’ RJpoints 90(95)

2007 DEUTZ ‘MILLÉSIME’ | 65PN 5PM 30CH  | 499 SEK | Swedish allocation 1 200 bottles |  TASTINGNOTE ‘Pinot Noir: about 65%, from the terroirs of Bouzy, Mareuil-sûr-Aÿ, Verzenay, Aÿ and Ambonnay. Chardonnay: about 30%, from the terroirs of Avize and Villers-Marmery. Pinot Meunier: about 5%, from Binson-et-Orquigny. Soft pleasing vanilla-scented and cacao-orienterad aroma and a soft fruit and bread dominated taste for relatively early consumption.’ RJpoints 82(85)

2009 DEUTZ ‘ROSÉ MILLÉSIME’ | 80PN 10CH  | 499SEK | Swedish allocation 360 bottles |  TASTINGNOTE ‘The vineyards, or crus, that supply the Pinot Noir are a gage of its qualities: Aÿ, Mareuil-sûr-Aÿ, Bouzy and Verzenay. They epitomise the subtle and yet powerful qualities of the finest pinot noirs in Champagne. The style of this wine and its colour owe a lot to the incorporation into the blend of 8% red wine made by Deutz from a plot of old vines on the hillside at Aÿ – a plot known as « La Pelle » – and other specific plots at Mareuil-sur-Aÿ: « Cumaine » and « Charmont ». Tasted together with the worlds most expensive (!) caviar, the arctic char caviar – Northern Light Spirit at about €25 000 per kilo. The wine felt slightly dryer and and firmer then usual. The nose is very much Aÿ and has great potential, with the slightly heavy charachter of the vintage.’ RJpoints 83(88)

Champagne Deutz also launched a world premier – 2006 DEUTZ ‘AMOUR de DEUTZ ROSÉ’ | 65PN 35CH  | aprox 1 500 SEK | TASTINGNOTE ‘Fabrice Rosset has long wanted to profile of William Deutz Rosé from a gastronomically burgundy influenced wine into something sleeker and more modern. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely convinced that the style change was necessary, although I obviously understand and respect the decision. The bottle is incredibly beautiful, cool  and elegant as a Greta Garbo in black and white. The purity and minerality sharpness is surgically precise, but the intensity and the fruit is a little too toned down this time. More like a dry Belle Epoque than William Deutz at present.’ RJpoints 86(92)

Splash Deutz Bdb2

RJ ON DEUTZ  Two Germans, William Deutz and Pierre Gelderman, founded this prestigious firm in 1838 in Ay. Deutz was hit hard during the champagne uprising in 1911. For a long time the house was run by André Lallier, who made large investments in other wine regions. These include properties in the Rhone Valley, Maison Deutz in California and another sparkling wine from the Loire Valley. 1993 Louis Roederer acquired majority of Deutz. Today the firm is run proficiently by the sympathetic Fabrice Rosset. Winemaker Michel Davesne. 75% of the grapes are sourced from Grand- and premier cru plots. Deutz owns land in five villages. The property is among the most beautiful in Champagne and wines are also very distinguished. The style is laid-back, elegant and sophisticated with a medium full body and crystal clear fruit as well as an exemplary mousse. All wines are good, but Cuvée William Deutz Rosé is something special. Even the Vinothèque-wines and the white edition of William Deutz is world class. Deutz has launched an ultra sophisticated prestige champagne under the name Amour de Deutz selling like hotcakes since Madonna took it to heart. One of my real favorites!

Deutz bike

new bubbles from charles dufour 15 september 2014

It’s always great to be able to present new excitiing bubbles in The CHAMPAGNEBAR by Richard Juhlin. This week it’s time for Charles Dufour from Landreville in Aube. (mer…)

Champagnelunch with A. R. Lenoble in Sthlm 30 juni 2014

Anne Malassagne from A.R. Lenoble invited Champagne Club for a lunch at Brasserie Bobonne in Stockholm to taste their Champagnes.

RJ ON A:R: LENOBLE Lenoble was established in 1920 by Armand-Raphaël Graser, but the domain was destroyed during the First World War. Leon de Tassigny from Jacquesson organised some buildings in Damery for his friend A-R Lenoble. At present the firm is run by Anne Malassagne, who controls eighteen hectares at Chouilly and Bisseuil. Winemaker is Antoine MalassagneFifty percent of their grapes are purchased. The proportion of oak barrels used is increasing every year. The 1999 Gentilhomme is brilliant as usual with profound nuttiness and lovely orange-dominated fruit aromas with flowery overtones. A fine personal spiciness lying in wait under the surface. The 96 is even better and the most recent vintages are super exiting in their oaky way.

A.R. Lenoble

nv A. R Lenoble ‘Brut Nature – Zero Dosage’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 309 sek| 30PN 30PM 30CH | RJpoints 68(73)

TASTING NOTE Basewine 2010. 30% réserve wine. 3 years sûr-lie and 0 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Chouilly and the Pinot Noir from the 1cru Bisseuil & the Pinot Muenier from Dammery. Grapes from Damery, Bisseuil and Chouilly vinified using 10% oak barrel and without sugar. Fairly delicate and mellower than expected. The aromas stretch from apples to pineapple and roses.

A.R. Lenoble C.I.

nv A. R Lenoble ‘Cuvée Intense’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 329 sek | 30PN 30PM 30CH | RJpoints 75(79)

TASTING NOTE Basewine 2010. 30% réserve wine. 3 years sûr-lie and 5 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Chouilly and the Pinot Noir from the 1cru Bisseuil & the Pinot Muenier from Dammery. Pinot Noir from Bisseuil, Meunier from Damery and Chardonnay from Chouilly vinified using 10% oak barrel with seven grammes of sugar and three years in contact with the yeast. Rich in flavour and interestingly spicy with a long, pure Granny Smith finish.

A.R. Lenoble BdB

nv A. R Lenoble ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 349 sek100CH | RJpoints 67(73)

TASTING NOTE Basewine 2009. 30% réserve wine. 3 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks and 5 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Chouilly. Grapes from Chouilly alone. An exciting and remarkable nose of candlewax and medicine, and an interesting personal flavour of flint stone.

A.R. Lenoble BdB08

2008 A. R Lenoble ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 409 sek100CH | RJpoints 80(83)

TASTING NOTE Pre-release. 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks and 3 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Chouilly. Again, I am a little bit disappointed with this fairly rich wine. Not nearly as village-typical despite all of the serious appearance. It lacks creaminess and minerality. The richness is there as a small consolation.

A.R. Lenoble BdB06

2006 A. R Lenoble ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 409 sek100CH | RJpoints 77(83)

TASTING NOTE Pre-release. 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks and 3 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Chouilly. Ambitious, well-made wine with intensity and a origin form good parcels. However, I am not nearly as impressed as I am when it comes to the house’s equivalent Blanc de Noirs. The Wine is a bit too rustic and characterized by straw and malt tones.

A.R. Lenoble Terroirs Rosé

nv A. R Lenoble ‘Rosé Terroirs’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 359 sek 10PM 90CH | RJpoints 59(61)

TASTING NOTE Basewine 2010. 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks and 3 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Grand cru Chouilly (90%) & the Pinot Meunier comes from 1er cru Bisseuil (10%). Rich and full-blooded with a far more Pinot-influenced style than the grape content suggests. The aftertaste is spicy. Sorry to say we are seldom impressed by rosé champagnes from chardonnay-focused growers & houses.

A.R. Lenoble

2009 A. R Lenoble ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs ’| Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 409 sek100PN | RJpoints 86(89)

TASTING NOTE 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks? and 3 grams of dosage. The PInot Noir comes from 1er cru Bisseuil. Wow! Cool! Here we go again. Not quite as large as the sensational 2006, but the same flavor spectrum and modern dense fruit.

 

2006 A. R Lenoble ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs ’| Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 479 sek | 100PN | RJpoints 90(91)

TASTING NOTE 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks? and 3 grams of dosage. The PInot Noir comes from 1er cru Bisseuil. Wow! What a sensation. Solid oak-influenced bio-oriented grower style with features of Egly and Selosse. One of the biggest surprises in recently. Massive and impressive throughout.

A.R.Lenoble

2006 A. R Lenoble ‘Gentilhomme’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 599 sek | 100CH | RJpoints 84(90)

TASTING NOTE 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks? and 3 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Grand cru Chouilly. Production only 3 – 4 000 bottle per year. Cool and extremely personal wine that radiates less polished than before, but with more sting and raw impressions. IN good years: a stylish Blanc de Blancs from Côte des Blancs. 

A.R. Lenoble

mv A. R Lenoble ’Les Aventures’ | Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 699 sek | 100PN | RJpoints 92(94)

TASTING NOTE 4 years sûr-lie in stainless steeltanks? and 3 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Grand cru Chouilly. Production only 2 000 bottle per year. The lieux-dits ’Les Aventures’ covers 0,5 hectares. A new cuvée de prestige of the best available that has been given a dose of 30% oak barrel. The grapes used to from the three fine years (like 1990, 1995 and 1996) This version is a blend of equal parts of the vintages ’02 & ’06. . I have heard such a lot of good things about this wine that I was slightly disappointed. I have the feeling that it is fantastically modern and oaky in tune with the times. And what will happen with storage? Worth trying at all events.

 

A.R. Lenoble Zero Dosage

nv A. R Lenoble ’Riche Demi-Sec’| Chouilly | Champagne | Frankrike | importör: KajsaWines | price: aprox 309 sek | 30PN 30PM 30CH | RJpoints 60(60)

TASTING NOTE Basewine 2010. 30% réserve wine. 3 years sûr-lie and 32 grams of dosage. The Chardonnay comes from Chouilly and the Pinot Noir from the 1cru Bisseuil & the Pinot Muenier from Dammery.

Louis Roederer -‘a voyage into the making of brut prémier’ 23 juni 2014

The still wines of Champagnes, vins clairs, very seldom leaves the cellars of Reims. and equally seldom outsiders from the Champagne industry have the opportunity to taste them. Under the guidens of Chef de caves Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon I had the opportunity to go through rhe parts that ends up in the final blend of Brut Premier. (mer…)

champagne spring trip – day 3 – Dom Pérignon 6 maj 2014

Bus left for l’Abbaye d´Hautvillers. We stoped at Champagne Dom Pérignon in Hautvillers and together with the world´s most famous winemaker Richard Geoffroy we tasted several vintages of regular Dom Pérignon and the rare black labeled Dom Pérignon Oenothèque. (mer…)

champagne spring trip – day 2 – Veuve Clicquot 4 maj 2014

The bus took us to Reims again. Some free time at the hotel was nice and som ewanted to be guided around the Cathedral and wine shops by Richard. For the evening we met up Hôtel du Marc for a Winemakers dinner at the wonderful private house of Madame Clicquot especially for our little group.

Veuve Clicquot Cellar

RJ on VEUVE CLIQUOT In Sweden, no Champagne is as well known as the “Gula Änkan,” the Yellow Widow. The house was founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot. His son, François, married Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin, who took over the company at the age of twenty-seven when she found herself a widow. By her side was Comte Edouard Werlé and the firm’s chef de caves, Antoine Müller. Together with Müller she developed “remuage” using “pupitres.” One Heinrich Bohne then helped to take the Russian market by storm. Throughout the nineteenth century and right up to the 1970s, Clicquot was reckoned as one of the top four or five Champagne companies, a position they still are very close to obtain. At first the company merged with Canard-Duchêne, but today it is a part of the powerful Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) group. The 284 hectares owned by Clicquot in twenty-two villages are enough for around three of the almost 18 million bottles produced each year. The most important crus for La Grande Dame and the vintage wine are Ambonnay, Bouzy, Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil, Oger, and Verzenay. Since 1962 modern vinification techniques and stainless-steel tanks have been used. If you find old, well-kept vintages they’ll be very like Bollinger and Krug. Despite the factory scale, the house has managed to keep its Pinot-based classic style, where dough, bread, and pepper are clear elements. Jacques Peters, who is brother to François Peters in Le Mesnil and an equally gifted winemaker, should get the credit for Clicquot’s quality today. The talented new winemaker Dominique Demarville follows smothly in the same tracks. The rich and honeyed La Grande Dame is a wonderful champagne, but the powerfull and nutty vintage wine often gives best value for money. Cave Privée is probably the best bargain on the market. A classic house that is one of the greatest!

Veuve04

The theme for the dinner was 2004. | RJ ON 2004 ***  | A mild spring followed by a summer with unstable weather. Fortunately, the first weeks of September were hot and sunny and created good prospects for the harvest. In my opinion, the wines have a good structure with a rather floral bouquet but with a bit rough, stony mineral profile. The charm is missing, and it needs a fairly long storage before the cavities are filled in. Promising favorites that have reached the market include prestige champagnes from Thierry Perrion, Diebolt- Vallois, David Léclapart, and of course Jacques Selosse. Among the big elephants that are launched, I choose Mumm de Cramant, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, Dom Pérignon, and Louis Roederer Cristal.

Veuve Rosé on the terrace

But we started out on the beautiful terrace with a wonederful glass of rosé  | nv VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘ROSÉ’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 50PN 20PM 30CH | RJpoints 84(88)

TASTING NOTE A new rose wine from the old lady made in a modern, somewhat lighter style. A tribute to the added red wine is really feels well integrated and all blue notes are conspicuous by their absence. However, I lack Clicquot customary bready richness in this fairly light creation. Cyril Brun’s latest mint toffee scented titbit is astoundingly great!

Veuve Hotel du Marc

2004 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘RICH RÉSERVE’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 59PN 8PM 33CH | RJpoints 82(85)

TASTING NOTE Nice together with foie gras, but the sugar is otherwise mostly in the way in this issue where the wine’s body is a little too round to completely fit in a sweet costume.

2004 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘MILLÉSIME’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 62PN 8PM 30CH | RJpoints 88(91)

TASTING NOTE Embarking very promising but gets ‘dark’ to quickly in the glass, indicating that it should be enjoyed sooner than many of the greatest wines from the house. Bright and toasty in magnum.

2004 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘ROSÉ’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 71PN 9PM 20CH | RJpoints 87(92)

TASTING NOTE Extremely charming from start. Lots of beautiful berry tones however, also stylish animal touch from the start. Unprecedented charm and the balance from the start with stylish features of summer romance.

Veuve Demi-Sec Carafé

nv VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘DEMI-SEC’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 56PN 16PM 28CH | RJpoints 52(67)

TASTING NOTE Precisely as with Roederer, Clicquot has even more bottle maturity in its sweetest wine before sale. A trouser-opener, as the Germans say. Honey, strawberry and toffee, but sickly sweet after a while. A good way to introduce someone to champagne.

Extra Rare Vintage '52

AFTER-DINNER BOTTLES SERVED BLIND IN THE BAR  |  1952 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘EXTRA RARE VINTAGE’ magnum  | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 67PN 33CH | RJpoints 98(98)

TASTING NOTE Absolutely outstandingly good! One of all these carzy magnums that Cyril and Dominique serves me and my VIPgroups instead of coffee at the Hôtel du Marc. Now it was a long time ago I tried the incredible ’55, but we’re on the same level of  quality. The scent is more animal and reminds of the truffle-oozing ’61, but the taste is ultra sleek, smooth, toffee and multilayered as a novel by Shakespeare! The best Champagne of the trip?!

Veuve Hotel du Marc the bar-h_PQYT3ywFPAbt4EW8

1996 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘LA GRANDE DAME’  | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 64PN 36CH | RJpoints 94(96)

TASTING NOTE A surprisingly tranquil, high-octane, elegant La Grande Dame that will probably develop into one of the greatest vintages of this wine ever made. The balance is extraordinary and the wine has a silky appearance, devoid of both sharp edges and an exaggeratedly chocolaty, muscular body. Hints of hazelnut and white chocolate are present, but for the moment handsome fruit and fine mineral notes from Oger and Le Mesnil dominate. A uniquely long aftertaste that should convince doubters that something big is happening here.

15 champagne lovers | 8 champagnes | 3 vintages | 120 glasses | 4 dishes

Veuve140416_002-2

The day after we visited the cellars of Veuve Clicquot (the name Ponsardin has been retired). Cyril Brun set up a Vin Clairs tasting for us:

Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs pinot meunier Villedomagne2013btl100PM
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs pinot noir Verzy2013btl100PN
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs chardonnay Vertus2013btl100CH
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs chardonnay Cramant2012btl100CH
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs pinot noir Verzy2012btl100PN
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs pinot noir Verzenay2008btl100PN
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs chardonnay Villiers-Marmery2008btl100CH
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs Bouzy Rouge2013btl100PN
Veuve ClicquotVins Clairs Final Blend2013btl
Veuve ClicquotLa Grande Dame2004btl64PN36CHRJ 94(96)
15 champagne lovers | 1 champagne | 9 vins clairs | 4 vintages | 150 glasses

Egly-Ouriet ‘Brut Tradition’ 25 mars 2014

RJ on EGLY-OURIET This firm was established in 1930 and nowadays Michel Egly owns 7,7 hectares at Ambonnay, a third of a hectare at Bouzy and one and a half a hectare at Verzenay as well as 2 hectares Meunier in Vrigny. The average age of the vines is 35 years, with 60 years for the prestige wines. The wines are phenomenally great and rich. The grower is very close to gaining five stars through his fantastic development in recent years. Probably the foremost grower of Pinot Noir in the entire Champagne region nowadays. His much sought-after Blanc de Noirs Vielles Vignes comes from grapes from Pinot vines grown in 1946. They give this wine extra weight and density. The fruitiness is massive and soft, and the potential for maturation is enormous. He succeeds better and better for each issue. Nowadays this is a Selosse-like, exotic, oaky and biodynamically influenced giant among champagnes. The taste layers are fantastically generous and many-headed. Very close to 5 stars.

Egly-Ouriet 'Brut Tradition'

nv EGLY-OURIET ‘BRUT TRADITION’ | Ambonnay | Champagne | France | Egly-Ouriet | 70PN 30CH | RJpoints 84(88)

TASTING NOTE A copy of Bollinger’s nonvintage Champagne. Chocolate, hazelnut and ripe apples. A broad, masculine fleshiness and vigor. Better and better with greater depth, elegance and Selosse-like barrel quality and organic style. Avoid the youngest and most recently disgorged specimens of all.

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day! 17 mars 2014

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.