How long should you keep champagne before drinking it? The answer, depending on the vintage, is anything from three to ten torturously long years. Which means that those of who buy a bottle the week before we celebrate a special occasion aren’t really getting the most out of our bubbles. Step in Louis Roederer and its unique Cristal Vinothèque.
Released just as it is coming into its prime drinking window (rather than putting the onus of ageing on the buyer), while Cristal Vinothèque will continue to improve in the bottle for another 10 years, it is close enough to its peak at the point of purchase for the true wine lover to experience its complex layers of flavour, freshness and texture should they choose to open it the day they take it home.
“We came up with the idea of allowing experienced wine enthusiasts to discover the celebrated tight rope between fruit, freshness and maturity that the Cristal champagnes in the collection had attained, as if they were themselves in the Vinothèque under the Rue de Savoye, surrounded by bottles “sur lattes” and “sur pointes”, marvelling at the power of time,” explains cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon.
In fact, it was the reality that most champagne drinkers weren’t enjoying the wine at its finest that inspired the creation of Vinothèque. The realisation that most of its customers were drinking Cristal without first allowing it to age in the bottle encouraged Louis Roederer to ceremonially preserve a limited number of bottles from particularly fine vintages in its cellars, where they could benefit from ageing in optimal conditions.
These bottles are first aged for ten years ‘sur lattes’ (literally ‘on the slats’ in the wine cellar) where they develop their aroma and structure and gain greater texture, body and smoothness. The wine is then left ‘sur pointe’, a resting period in which the wine purifies itself while the maturation process is suspended for 5-10 years, before being transferred to age on their corks for up to six years in the Vinothèque. Then, just as they are entering their prime, these incredibly special bottles are released to be enjoyed by the world’s greatest wine lovers.
Of course, requiring such a time consuming and bespoke ageing process, it is not just any vintage that is selected for the Vinothèque treatment – and this year the house is releasing just the third Vinothèque vintage in its history. Following the highly acclaimed 1995 and 1996 vintages, this year’s Vinothèque 1999 is the ultimate expression of Louis Roederer’s winemaking expertise.
Available in both brut and rosé iterations from Harrods and Hedonism Wines, the lower dosage of Vinothèque 1999 results in a fresher more evolved wine with a long finish and superior elegance that sets it above even the finest vintage champagnes on the market. Infusing the radiant notes of the original Cristal with a light effervescence, salinity and surprising youthfulness, it is truly a champagne that has to be tasted to be believed. Supply is extremely limited – don’t miss your chance to invest in a bottle.
Cristal Vinothèque 1999
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