Best of the Best 2007: International White Wines: Louis Roederer 1999 Cristal Rosé Champagne

Louis Roederer 1999 Cristal Rosé Champagne

Although the rosé version of Roederer Cristal is not a white wine per se, its inclusion here indicates just how important rosé Champagne has become in the canon of luxury wines, with pink versions of tête-de-cuvée Champagnes selling for significantly higher prices than their golden counterparts, which are by no means inexpensive.

Pink-tinged Champagne has experienced its ups and downs through the centuries. The first sparkling Champagnes, produced in the early 18th century, had a rosy hue, or more precisely, they bore the fawn color called fauvelet. The slow pressing process produced this color, because it allowed the unfermented must to remain in contact with the skins for a lengthy period of time. As pressing techniques evolved and grew more efficient, Champagnes became less colorful. Today, however, rosé bubbly is the fastest-growing segment of the Champagne market, and its prestige has never been greater.

Roederer Cristal Rosé is always exquisite and complex, and the current, 1999 vintage is long, resonant, and fresh. The rarest of Roederer’s wines, the Cristal Rosé is made primarily from Pinot Noir sourced from Cumières and only in select vintages. (Thirty percent of the grapes used for the 1999 vintage were Chardonnay.) Roederer is one of the few houses that uses skin maceration to make its rosé Champagnes, as opposed to the less labor-intensive method of adding finished red wine to the base wines. The extra effort pays off in seamless balance and harmony. Pure and elegant on the palate, the Cristal Rosé shows mingled notes of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry with remarkable length and finesse.

Louis Roederer
www.champagne-roederer.com ($250)

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