Louis Roederer, Cristal 2012

Louis Roederer

2012
Champagne

« 2012. It was a year of contrasts, one of hard toil but full of light. And it was a year in which the maturity of the grapes crafted a Cristal of a new dimension. »

Cristal is the flagship cuvée from Louis Roederer. Created in 1876, it is composed of Grands Crus from the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. The dosage is 7.5 g/l
Born in a year of contrasts, Cristal 2012 weaves a subtle blend of strength and finesse, the happy alliance of superb depth combined with the freshness of its limestone terroir. This wine of substance and firepower, born in the light of the white soils, finds a rare intensity in this year of fabulous maturity.
A delicious, concentrated and chalky palate. It shows incredible tension and perfectly honed aromatic precision. The attack is powerful, distinctive and concentrated and reveals a silky, mouth-coating texture, characteristic of the ripe Pinot noirs from the 2012 vintage.

Region
Variety
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Alcohol-abv
12%
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£189.50
Champagne

Champagne

Situated 90 miles north-east of Paris, one of the most northerly latitudes in the wine world, Champagne lies over a chalk plain (a major influence of the terroir) and is split by the River Marne. Vineyards are literally dotted all over the region, but the cities of Epernay and Reims are the main hubs, where the major producers have their maison. The region consists of 5 main regions, split into 17 sub-regions. Montage de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Sézanne and The Aube. The majority (over two thirds) of the vineyards are found in the Marne valley.

With its continental cool climate, the growing season is rarely warm enough to ripen grapes to the levels required for standard winemaking. Even in temperate years, Champagne's grapes still bear the hallmark acidity of a marginal climate, and it was only the discovery of secondary fermentation that provided a wine style capable of harnessing – and even embracing – this tartness.

Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the primary grape varieties used to make Champagne – a recipe used for sparkling wines across the world. It is a little-known fact that four other varieties are also permitted for use in Champagne and are still employed today, albeit in tiny quantities. They are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane.

Depending on exactly how a Champagne is made, can take any one of various forms. The key Champagne styles differ in their color, sweetness, base grape varieties, and whether they are the product of a single vintage or several (Non-Vintage). The whites may be either Blanc de Noirs (made from black-skinned grapes), Blanc de Blancs (made from green-skinned grapes) or just plain Blanc (made from any combination of the permitted varieties). Pink Champagne Rosé is made either by adding red wine to a white blend or sometimes by fermenting the juice in contact with the skins. Grand Cru Champagnes and Premier Cru Champagnes are those made from the region's very finest and highest-rated vineyards.

All Champagne must spend at least 12 months aging on its lees - the spent yeast cells from the second fermentation. An extended period on lees beyond this can have a marked effect on the yeasty characteristics of the final wine. Non-vintage Champagnes must mature in bottle for a minimum of 15 months in total before release (i.e. an extra 3 months after the yeast sediment is removed at disgorgement) though in practice 2 to 3 years is a more typical figure. Vintage wines must spend 36 months in bottle before being sent to market, though most are released after 4 to 10 years.

France

France – the home of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire and Champagne – is arguably the world's most important wine-producing country. For centuries, it has produced wine in greater quantity – and of reportedly greater quality – than any other nation. Wine is ingrained in French culture at almost every level of society; it is the drink of both the elite and the common people, and a key symbol in Roman Catholicism, France's majority religion.

The diversity of French wine is due, in part, to the country's wide range of climates. Champagne, its most northerly region, has one of the coolest climates anywhere in the wine-growing world – in stark contrast to the warm, dry Rhone Valley 350 miles (560km) away in the southeast. Bordeaux, in the southwest, has a maritime climate heavily influenced by the Atlantic ocean to its west and the various rivers that wind their way between its vineyards. Far from any oceanic influence, eastern regions such as Burgundy and Alsace have a continental climate, with warm, dry summers and cold winters. In France's deep south, Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon enjoy a definitively Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot summers and relatively mild winters.

France's appellation system was created in the early 20th century and has since been imitated in many other countries. This complex system of laws ultimately defines each wine region and its boundaries and imposes strict rules around winemaking practices. Protecting the names of French wines and guaranteeing the quality and provenance of the products themselves are its key objectives. No other country has developed its appellation system to such an extent; as of 2012, there were more than 450 controlled appellations under the AOC titles and a further 150 Vin de Pays/IGP titles.