Grapes: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Localization: Côte des Blancs, Mountain of Reims and Grand Valley of the Marne, Champagne, France
Tasting Notes: Golden yellow in colour with glistening gold tints. Incredibly dynamic effervescence, so lively you can almost hear it! Rich and complex aromas with notes of zesty and candied fruit (lemon) mingled with pollen (white flowers), roasted hazelnut and Madagascar vanilla. After aeration, the bouquet develops rich notes of fresh pastries and smoky notes from bottle ageing. 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.
James Suckling 98 points
This is quite chalky with firm phenolics that frame the wine beautifully. It’s medium-to full-bodied with strawberries and earth. Dense, linear and intense. Hints of brioche and pie crust at the end. Very structured and gorgeous. Salty and lightly chewy. One third of the base wines fermented and aged in oak. Connoisseur Champagne. From organic vineyards of the Roederer domains. Smaller production than normal. Seven years on the lees. Give it two or three years to open.
John Gilman 97 points
The 2013 vintage of Cristal from Maison Louis Roederer is the only one in the last two decades to be made from fruit that was harvested in October, as global warming has pushed most picking dates in the Champagne region forward into September. Spring was cool and flowering in 2013 did not occur until the month of July- almost unheard of in recent times! The cépages this year is sixty percent pinot noir and forty percent chardonnay, with one-third of the vins clairs barrel-fermented for this vintage. As always, none of the vins clairs went through malolactic fermentation and the wine was finished with a dosage of eight grams per liter. The wine delivers a beautiful young bouquet of apple, a hint of pear, yellow plum, a complex base of chalky minerality, brioche and a lovely array of fruit blossoms in the upper register. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with impeccable balance, a superb core, laser-like focus, very elegant mousse and a long, vibrant and very classy finish. This has the structure to age long and gracefully and may well close down a bit over the next couple of years, but for the moment, it so seamlessly balanced that I find it very easy to drink out of the blocks (which is not customary for my palate with Cristal, which I usually want to bury in the cellar for a decade!). This is a very beautiful vintage of Cristal and a very, very worthy follow-up to the stellar 2012 version!
Vinous 97 points
The 2013 Cristal is a wine of extraordinary precision and tension. Searing acids drive a bold, racy Champagne that won’t be ready to offer its best drinking anytime soon. In recent vintages, Cristal has been quite open on release. That is far from the case with the 2013. Readers should plan on being quite patient. The blend is 60% Pinot Noir (from Aÿ, Verzy, Verzenay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle) and 40% Chardonnay (Mesnil, Avize, Cramant). Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon was especially selective and used only 30 out of the potential 45 plots that are typically available for Cristal. About 32% of the lots were done in oak, the rest in steel, with the malolactic fermentation blocked across the board. It was an October harvest, the sort of harvest that has become increasingly rare in Champagne. Lecaillon describes the summer as similar to 2012, but adds the vines were a month behind in their development. In tasting, the 2013 reminds me of the 1996 in its austerity, even more so than the epic 2008.
Decanter 96 points
The peak of drinkability is between 15 and 20 years from the harvest; so says Jean-Baptiste, but he has not spared the taster the wondrous early impression of perfection in the making. A soft gold with glistening highlights, like the river meadow at dawn; the nose effortlessly marries a panoply of flavours, the citric grip nodding to hints of passion fruit and Mirabelle plum, with hazelnut and almond signalling the grace of development. Texturally generous, yet tightly wound, taut and flinty yet ripe and open, the wine faithfully underlines the vigneron’s philosophy, every nuance of its template deftly rehearsed and charmingly enacted.
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points
I think the 2013 Cristal checks in behind the 2008, but it's nevertheless a beautiful wine. Lots of ripe orchard fruits, toasted bread, brioche, and chalky mineral notes define the nose, and it's medium to full-bodied, with a layered, nicely concentrated, tight, inward style, beautiful precision and purity, and a great finish. It needs a good 5-7 years of bottle age to hit its stride and will keep for two decades or more.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 96 points
Notes of crisp yellow orchard fruit, white flowers, blanched almonds and warm brioche introduce the 2013 Cristal, a full-bodied, layered and incisive wine that's taut and chiseled but also notably exuberant in a vintage that I admire immensely but which can sometimes present an austere side. Deep, concentrated and penetrating, it's complemented by a pinpoint mousse and concludes with a long, saline finish. Less introverted than its 2012 predecessor, readers won't regret trying a bottle of the 2013 Cristal young—even if I'd recommend forgetting some for a decade too.
Food pairing: Perfect for rich meats; such as chicken, monk fish or veal in a butter or cream-based sauce; chicken a la king; or smoked monk fish with oyster mousse.
The Domain: In 1845, Louis Roederer acquired 15 hectares in the Grand Cru vineyards of Verzenay. The idea—which was quite unusual at a time when grapes had little value—was to become a wine grower in order to master the entire process of creating his vintage wines. Ever since, every Louis Roederer vintage originates exclusively from our own vines, which is rare indeed in the Champagne region. The quest for a diversity of terroirs, crus, parcels, and grape varieties in the vineyards (or climats to use the Burgundian expression) was rapidly integrated by the House of Louis Roederer. A groundbreaking strategy was implemented, which involved buying specific parcels selected for their capacity to produce distinctive wines. This strategy is still a core component of the House’s continuing development.
Taking into account the specificities of different soils and the practice of ‘tailor-made’ viticulture enable us to attain optimal grape maturity.
This precise work is carried out with great respect for biodiversity and, increasingly, the principles of biodynamic cultivation. Our vineyards are located in three classic Champagne districts: the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Blancs. The diversity and fertility of these sites provide our House with an extensive and rich palette from which to fashion the wines.
The Louis Roederer estate cultivates the 3 traditional grape varieties: Chardonnay is appreciated for its minerality, finesse, and elegance; Pinot noir’s solid constitution adds structure to the blends and prepares them for ageing; Pinot Meunier is a slightly less refined sweet grape variety, whose adaptability brings harmony and softness to certain cuvées.
The grapes in our plots are meticulously gathered by hand and are collected in the buckets and pressed on the site of the harvest. The pressing process is a delicate one, because the berry must not alter the colour of the juice, which must maintain its golden hue and clarity.
2012 was one of the most challenging and complicated years ever experienced in Champagne. However, difficult conditions often lead to great things… The low yields, due to the unpredictable weather, combined with continental conditions towards the end of the season, gave us unusual levels of maturity, resulting in rich, full-bodied and structured wines worthy of the greatest vintages in Champagne.
In 2013, Louis Roederer’s vineyards stretched across 240 hectares and include 410 parcels.