Louis Roederer-Cristal Brut 2013 (Gift box)

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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. This small report covers four recent releases from Louis Roederer: the superb 2013 Cristal and Cristal Rosé, and the house's two promising debut offerings in the genre of Coteaux Champenois. The Cristal releases speak for themselves, and I refer readers looking for more context to my feature on this important cuvée in the March 2020 Week 1 issue of The Wine Advocate. Representing more of a novelty, however, the Coteaux are worthy of special comment. The Coteaux project began two decades ago, when chef des caves Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon commissioned an analysis of the house's vineyard holdings, looking for sites with sufficient clay content to produce still wine. In 2002, Roederer planted in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ lieu-dit Charmont with Burgundian selections (their in-house sélection massale program not yet being sufficiently advanced to supply their needs), farming the vineyard with higher canopies and without hedging, pruning short to limit yields. Their first essay in vinification came in 2014, and more seriously in 2015, Lecaillon refining choices relating to the proportion of stems retained and élevage. This 2018 red, in other words, is the culmination of a long journey. Its white counterpart, by contrast, is the result of a coup de foudre: Lecaillon tasted a 1961 Coteaux from Mesnil-sur-Oger and, he tells me, adored it. Having initially earmarked Avize as the most plausible source for such a wine, he imme
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