Everything to Know About Louis Roederer Cristal
Cristal is considered to be the first prestige cuvée, according to TheWineDoctor.com. That’s a fact that we find astounding, considering all of the wonderful wines that are produced in the Champagne Region. For real, the region probably occupies half of Wine & Spirits Magazine based on quality alone.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 4 min read
Fun fact, a surprising amount of quality red wine comes from the Champagne Region. So much so that WineEnthusiast considers Red Champagne, “France’s Best Kept Secret”.
Put away your bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and glasses of Pinot Grigio, it’s time to get fancy.
Cristal Champagne is a French Champagne crafted using the méthode champenoise, which, according to California Champagnes, means, “Traditional champagne production method that promotes a second fermentation in the bottle.“
The champagne Louis Roederer brought to fame comes from none other than his own champagne house, now run by Frédéric Rouzaud. As a vintage bubbly, Louis Roederer Cristal isn’t produced every single year. Only when the 100% estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from the famous wine region are of esteemed quality will the Cristal Brut and Cristal Rose go into production.
Because exclusivity doesn’t produce itself.
The company claims that Cristal is aged for 6 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars. It then begins a process of dégorgement for antoher 8 months.
The dry, elegant, light-bodied sparkling wine is the darling of the 90s Kings of New York. However, before Rap Royalty came actual royalty, where Alexander II, the Tzar of Russia, had an affinity for the wine. Roederer built upon Tsar Alexander’s love for finery and crafted Cristal specifically for him.
Vinepair had this to say, “Cristal was first created by Louis Roederer for Alexander II in 1876. As Russia became less stable and Alexander feared assassination, he commanded that his Champagne be bottled clear and with a flat bottom in order to ensure no bombs were placed in the punt beneath the bottles.”
Historically, the balance of grapes used to produce Cristal was equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Those grapes are grown on over 240 hectares of estate-owned land. The Champagne House in Reims, independent and family-owned, cultivates its grapes on what they consider the best terroirs of Champagne, including the:
- Grands and Premiers Crus of the Montagne de Reims
- Côte des Blancs
- Vallée de la Marne
Louis Roederer, pronounced loo·uhs row·dr·ur, had this to say about their wine producers,
”The men and women of Louis Roederer have a profound attachment to the vineyards—this is what distinguishes our House from all the others. All the wine growers are perfectly acquainted with their parcels and even each vine, which they tend year after year. This creates a unique link between the vines and the men and women who devote all their time and energy to them.”
Wine enthusiasts such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Lil’ Kim, as well as Raekwon and Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan, have long espoused the luxury champagne brand in their lyrics. You could go so far as to say that Roederer’s finest became Brooklyn’s finest.
Sure, there was Alize, Hennessey, Remy Martin, Bacardi Dark, and whole slew of other intoxicating liquors, but the gold-foiled bottle of brut champagne was always number one in the hearts (and words) of 90s Golden Era Rappers. Because nothing said The Streets of New York like a sparkling wine that featured aromas of hazelnut, lemon zest and warm pastry from the pastoral countryside of France.
That was until hip-hop legend Jay-Z got involved. The rapper decided that Rouzand's comments were racist and vowed to never drink Cris, nor serve it at his clubs again. Years later, Jazy-Z would acquire a champagne brand of his own, Armand de Brignac. We'd like to imagine that Shawn Carter is doing ok for himself.
But Jay-Z wasn’t always antagonistic toward the brand. In the video below, you can see Jay-Z laughing about Biggie engaging in “Cristal Chugging Contests” with Dame, another rapper in the hip-hop game.
To get Biggie to the studio to record with Jaÿ Dame challenged him to a Cristal drinking contest on the “Dead President$” set. Here Jay-Z explains how this became a tradition between the two: pic.twitter.com/PgLaBmqRME— Iceberg Slim (@AintNoJigga) September 12, 2021
Did you really think that Biggie drinks Budweiser?
Nah, the man’s a legend. Here are his tributes to Cris.
- Malibu sea breeze, Dom P's, palm trees (Only You)
- Get her pissy drunk off of Dom Pérignon (Party & Bullsh*t)
- Cristal pop, I’m sippin’ it (You’ll See)
- Cristal forever, play the crib when it's mink weather (Brooklyn’s Finest)
- I been had skills, Cristal spills (All About The Benjamins)
Louis Roederer produces two major types of Cristal, the Brut and the Rose. However, a variety of bottles if offered within those categories, including those below. Decanter magazine considered the Cristal 2014 to be unpredictable in taste, which is a kind of way of saying that they were just unsure of how excellent it would truly be.
- Cristal Rosé
- Cristal Vinothèque
- Cristal Rosé Vinothèque
- Medallion bottle
- Cristal 2012
- Cristal 2013
- Cristal 2014
Cristal tastes like the love that went into making a child’s first birthday cake. It tastes as if a choir of angels sang uplifting hymns with such fervor that the warmth of their pristine timbre served as the oven in which that cake baked.
It tastes so wonderful and so pure, that you begin to believe that if everyone were afforded the opportunity to partake of this ambrosia, planetary harmony would be achieved. World peace would follow, starvation would end, and infant mortality rates would forever fall to zero.
Drinking Cristal even has the power to make you forget that George Lucas made the terrible Prequels (Episodes 1-3). So strong is Cristal’s Force that you will forget that Disney made the (somehow) even-worse Sequels (Episodes 7-9).
But really, Cristal tastes like lavish, juicy fruits, with confectionery tones and hints of brioche.
And money. Cristal tastes like money. Lots of money.
A 750ml bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Brut costs $289.97 at Total Wine and $289.98 at online retailer, Drizly.
A vintage champagne flute if you have one handy.
The noted acidity restrains all of the flavors together, helping to keep everything in check.
The alcohol content is 12% ABV.
Dom Pérignon is a popular alternative to Cristal.