2002 Louis Roederer Cristal Rose

Year: 2002
Appellation: Champagne
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 90
Wine Advocate: 95+
Vinous Media: 93
Sparkling Wine
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"This is very fruity, boasting apple, cherry and berry flavors, making it open and approachable. There's concentration as well, with a vibrant structure and a berry aftertaste. Drink now through 2019." (WS)

"The 2002 Brut Cristal Rose shows the classic Roederer introspectiveness that can sometimes make the wines hard to grasp when they are young. It, too, is a relatively lightly-colored rose. The bouquet is beautifully woven into a fabric of layered, ripe fruit. With some time in the glass, the wine’s textural beauty becomes more apparent, but this is a Champagne that needs bottle age. It should be spectacular in time. Cristal Rose is made with the same technique as the rose, which is to say the Pinot is cold-macerated on the skins for 6-7 days, but the percentage of oak is a touch higher. For Cristal Rose the Pinot is sourced from Ay and the percentage of Chardonnay (from Avize and Mesnil) is a touch higher than the Brut Rose at 40% of the blend. This is Lot L031784L100149, disgorged in April, 2008. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2022.

This is another set of exceptional new releases from Roederer, one of the very few of the larger houses that captures the full potential of Champagne as an art of blended wine. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon and his team have done a marvelous job with these Champagnes. Unfortunately, I was not able to taste the 2004 Cristal, which will be released in the Spring of 2010. Lecaillon is also working on a new wine, a Brut Nature Champagne (equal parts Pinot and Chardonnay, and likely to be a vintage wine) which will also be released next Spring. Readers who want to learn more about this historic house may want to take a look at my vertical of Cristal going back to 1979 available on www.erobertparker.com." (WA)

"($650; a blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay; L031587L100418) Medium pink with a light copper hue. Strawberry, cherry skin and blood orange on the nose, with notes of brown butter and dried flowers adding complexity. Lush and creamy but not heavy, offering open-knit red berry and sappy citrus flavors and a deeper, buttery quality on the back end. Hangs on with attractive spiciness, a hint of candied orange and impressive, gently sweet persistence. I'd err on the side of youth with this alluring Champagne and drink it over the coming decade rather than bury it in the cellar. (Maisons Marques & Domaines, Oakland, CA)" (IWC)

Winery Notes:
Cristal Rosé is the rarest champagne produced by Champagne Louis Roederer. When it does occur, it is produced with regimented standards of winemaking that require a rigorous selection of crus, vintages, grapes and wine. The traditional skin maceration is used in order to gently extract the natural pigments for the unique color and create the particular style of this rosé. The cuvée Cristal Rosé is produced exclusively from the best grapes of Louis Roederer's own "Premier Cru" vineyards, primarily those of Aÿ, Verzenay, Verzy and Cumières for the Pinot Noir, and Le Mesnil sur Oger and Avize for the Chardonnay.

Twenty percent of the wines are vinified in oak barrels with weekly batonnage. There is no malolactic fermentation. Louis Roederer uses the saignée method after cold maceration that can last five to eight days in the liquid phase. Dosage between 8 to 10 g/l is adapted to each vintage.

Tasting Notes
“A salmon pink hue, with radiant highlights and incredible youth. A regular, refined and lively effervescence. An intense, rich, bewitching bouquet of red fruit and citrus zest associated with more complex notes redolent of cedar and spring sap. The aromas evolve gently in the glass evolving from dried fruits, fresh almonds and frangipane, to notes of Tarte Tatin, oven-baked apples and caramel. In tastings, the wine is soft and silky on the palate with a marvelous harmony of flavor and concentration of fruit. The attack is fruity and crisp. Finesse and fruit combine to create a full palate that melts in the mouth, giving way to candied citrus and dried fruits. The exceptional characteristics of the 2002 vintage have been literally captured in this generous epicurean Cristal Rosé 2002, which reveals a perfect equilibrium between concentration and finesse, richness and freshness, intensity and refinement.” – Jean Baptiste Lécaillon, Head Winemaker & Executive Vice President of Production

Clearly imbued with the Cristal style, this wine has purity, fruit, finesse and incomparable harmony. In three words: proud, rich, and luxurious.

It was an extraordinary year that brought together all the factors that make for a great Champagne year: constant warm temperatures without excessive heat or sun preceded by a markedly mild winter; a reduction in rainfall (about 20 percent) during the growth cycle; cool nights and a cold dry north-easterly wind from August to September. These exceptionally favorable conditions combined meant that the grapes matured perfectly and their flavors were nicely concentrated. Harvesting started September 12 for the chardonnays with an average sugar concentration superior to 11% natural alcohol.