We tasted: Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2002

tasting in March 2021, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain

When searching for the most iconic cuvées in the champagne’s history, it’s imperative to add this one: Cristal Rosé 2002. Considered by many critics the best champagne rosé, it gained three maximum awards at the prestigious Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in 2014: “Supreme World Champion” (best sparkling wine in the world), “World Champion Champagne” (best champagne), “World Champion Deluxe Rosé” (best sparkling rosé in the world). It also made history by being the first and unique champagne to receive the 100 points (maximum possible) from the reputable publication, worldwide famous, Robert Parker (Wine Advocate). That way, the “curse” that no champagne had ever received RP 100 points has been finally broken. Also, other famous wine critics like Peter Liem, Joshua Greene and Essi Avellan MW (who has declared it her all-time favourite) offered the maximum score for this extraordinary cuvée.

But in order to understand this wine, we need to go back in time to 2002 and see how the weather influenced creating this perfect cuvée. The spring was almost excellent, with no significant frost and the flowering developed perfectly. The summer was also quiet, with no strident events: long sunny periods with a few rainy days (20% less rainfalls than normal summer) which conducted to a slight dehydration of the grapes. With a dry northeast wind in August and September, the grapes reached a rarely seen level of ripeness and flavour concentration, and the 2002 harvest has been considered one of the best in Champagne history. Those were the premises of a memorable cuvée, and Cristal Rosé 2002 is the living prove. Since 1974, when Jean-Claude Rouzaud (father of the actual president, Frédéric Rouzaud), then president and CEO of the champagne house and direct descendant of Louis Roederer, decided to create a line of Cristal Rosé. Over the years, Louis Roederer has developed a unique technique for the production of its rosé champagnes. This process, referred to by Roederer as the ‘infusion‘ technique, allows them to bring out the juicy, ripe character of the Pinot noirs whilst preserving their exceptional freshness. A small amount of Chardonnay juice from Côte des Blancs vines (typically villages of Avize and Mesnil-sur-Oger) is added to the Pinot noir maceration which then ferment together and integrate smoothly and harmoniously.

As for the tasting notes, this champagne is so complex and particular that it has no simple but dimensional notes. With every sip one can find new nuances, for example, its superb, rich bouquet of red fruits can gradually metamorphose between velvety and crispy. The nose is delightfully invaded by its soft, smooth notes of fresh fruits and candied citrus combined with more floral notes such as rose as well as smoke hints, cocoa, spices, vanilla and subtle cinnamon. On the palate is even more sophisticated, it’s powerful, intense, juicy with chalky freshness; notes of ripe apples, cherries, pears, nougat, roasted coffee beans, brioche, caramel and honey. Fine but lively bubbles and a long delightful, smooth saline aftertaste. This champagne is the definition of elegance, very difficult to overcome. Unfortunately, its price and rarity make it difficult to taste it often, but at least once worth the effort: you’re not only tasting a superlative champagne, but you’re tasting a piece of art that made history in Champagne.

CLB score

100

*take a look at our CLB scoring

Type of champagneBrut Rosé
Vintage2002
Grapes56% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay
MaisonLouis Roederer
Village/terroirAÿ, Cumières, Verzenay, Verzy – Pinot Noir and Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger – Chardonnay
Degorgement2010
Aged7 years on lees (plus 9 years in the cellar for the Late-Release version)
Dosage9g/L
Sizebottle (75cl)
Number of bottlesN/A
Price range (euro)1100-1300
Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon
Other considerents20% vinified in oak casks, no malolactic fermentation

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