Louis Roederer Cristal Vinoteque 1999
A Laboratory of Time
This invaluable and exactly measured ageing process gives Cristal Vinothèque its stature; it determines the future of the wine and guides it with wisdom and precision. Adapted to the vintage and weather over the course of the year, devised and implemented by the cellar master, everything comes together over the course of time.
First, there is a long period of resting on the lees, between 8 and 12 years: this preparatory phase enables the wine’s aromas to develop and its structure to become more complex. The wine gains greater texture and body, it becomes softer and smoother, helped by the richness of the lees which gives it a deeper and more complex whole.
After the riddling process, the wine is left sur pointe: this is the moment when the passage of time is suspended. The wine rests, anticipating an extended maturation process and, having already developed some body thanks to the initial ageing on the lees, now unearths its dormant freshness. This phase lasts between 5 and 10 years.
Then it’s time for the wine to be aged under cork: after disgorgement, the wine is in perfect condition for ageing and it rests in our cellars, dug beneath the ground, in total darkness, at a temperature of 11°C. An additional 2 to 6 years ageing under cork are then required to permit the wine’s gradual evolution and ultimate blossoming. The cellar master is the conductor of time and the ageing process in which every phase plays an important role. It is a slow process, a dazzling paradox that is played out: forged by patience and rest, guided by the choices made by the cellar master, the wine slowly acquires a luster.
The sur pointe stage is particularly essential because it allows the wine to purify itself, to withdraw for a time, slowing down the ageing process for a while. This wait serves a purpose: it is in this stillness that the wine takes its shape and sets itself in motion. This slowing down of the ageing process protects the wine from oxidation and preserves the character imbued by the grapes and the soil. At the time of disgorgement, only subtle fine-tuning is required, just the right stroke, and nothing more, to underscore the wine’s personality. The cellar master therefore gives it a lower dosage than the original Cristal, 1 or 2 grams less, and the result is a champagne that is both fresher and more evolved, with a longer finish, and more elegance than any other champagne.
This dosage is a passport for the journey that is to come. Another five years under cork go by, time for the smooth integration and harmonisation of the flavours. A perfect alchemical process weaves together in the darkness of the cellars, under the rock, just below the water table. And this cool wave of freshness laps over the wine like time. After these long years spent resting underground, the wine does not show any of the wrinkles of time; its aromatic notes remain fresh, undulating and vivacious, at their perfect point of equilibrium.
“An exceptional wine that is in the midst of a 20 year window of beauty. Late disgorgement has enhanced its aromatic complexity whilst creating this fresh, precise and timeless palate.” – Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Chef de Cave