The latest vintage Champagnes from Louis Roederer defy expectations

Harvested in 2013 — a famously tricky year for Champagne — the latest Cristal and Cristal Rosé are better than they have any right to be

Silver linings never looked so golden. But that’s exactly what Louis Roederer’s latest release is; a fortuitous, unforeseen quirk of winemaking fate. Classic and complex, the Cristal 2013 was a late bloomer, a saving grace — and one of the only good things to come out of a less than sparkling year. 

Because 2013 was a tough, trying year for Champagne. The region spent its winter snowed under and plagued by frost. Spring sprung late, and the climate remained cold until flowering — finally — began in July. They were the most challenging growing conditions seen in Champagne for over two decades; and the sort that would separate the winemaking men from the bubbly boys. 

Louis Roederer, naturally, delivered. The heritage Champagne house harnessed the summer sun, and its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes ripened elegantly and extremely well. The temperatures cooled once more for an October harvest, and the resulting wines aged to be fresh, fine and fragrant. Let’s take a look at these latest vintages. 

The Cristal 2013 perfectly captures the terroir’s chalky purity

It’s not only Louis Roederer’s quick-thinking and eye for detail that saved this vintage. The French producer also laid groundwork several years prior that would ensure its vines and wines were given the best chance to thrive. From eco-friendly viticulture to biodynamic composts, Cristal 2013 benefits from the brand’s respect for the terroir.

This meant that, despite the fluctuations in weather conditions, the Chardonnay grapes shone with a new light back in 2013. More complex and with a heightened salinity, the fruit blended with the reliable Pinot Noir to create a fresh, more textured wine — and one that has aged beautifully. 

Expect a powerful and complex palate. There’s a mixture of yellow fruits here; bold, unapologetic flavours of Mirabelle plums, juicy nectarines and candied orange. But, under these top notes, there are more granular textures of finely-roasted nuts — a sweet, powdery feel that reflects Louis Roederer’s chalky terroir itself.

Strong tannins, too, add even more delightful depth. The wine may begin with light, juicy flavours, but its tannic, saline finish — paired with the gentle, steady vibration of those fine bubbles — leaves the tongue trembling with the classic Champagne tingle. It’s a true achievement; an admirable blend of the traditional, vintage experience with new, harmonious touches.

The latest vintage Champagnes from Louis Roederer defy expectations

Louis Roederer Cristal 2013

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The Cristal Rosé 2013 unfolds like a fine perfume

But there’s more. Arriving in time for summer, the Cristal Rosé 2013 reflects the terroir with even more sweetness and clarity than the bottle above. Eternally fresh and sparkling rose gold, you can almost taste the sunshine fizzing away in the flute.

Louis Roederer, in fact, describes this Champagne as being ‘pure as nectar’. It’s an apt comparison. There’s a purity and precision to this expression that stands it apart from previous rosé vintages — with a refined, razor-sweet bouquet of tart red fruits (think wild strawberries and raspberries) mingling with sharply-scented lemony petals.

But there’s also the deeper, richer flavours we associate with classic Champagnes. After several sips, overtones of fresh almonds, baked bread and spices emerge — along with complementary, if slightly unexpected flavours, such as cocoa beans. And then, as with the Cristal 2013, you hit the sapid, saline finish — a product of the pure limestone of the terroir.

It unfolds like a perfume, with that intensely velvety palate replicated in texture. The bubbles are almost creamy, creating a round, rich sensation in the mouth. And, as different scents bubble to the surface, you’ll be pulled back to that idea of sunshine in a glass; a shimmering, vibrant, fair-weather fizz. 

The latest vintage Champagnes from Louis Roederer defy expectations

Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2013

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Want more from the Champagne house? Here’s the making of Louis Roederer et Philippe Starck Brut Nature 2012…

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