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1988 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne

SKU #995548 98 points Vinous

Outer quote mark One of the two or three most moving wines in this vertical, the 1988 Cristal is eternal. Deep and vertical, with Gothic spires of soaring aromatic, flavor and structural intensity, the 1988 has it all. At thirty years of age, the 1988 is fresh, vibrant and incredibly powerful. Lemon peel, white flower, chalk and almonds are all given an extra kick of vibrancy from the bright acids and underlying energy of the vintage. Even after three decades, the 1988 remains searing, classically austere and beautifully focused, with tremendous pedigree and stunning balance. The 1988 is a rare Cristal where the Chardonnay, at 48% of the blend, is on the higher side. 'When I joined Roederer in 1989, we were blending the 1988s,' Lécaillon explains. 'They were such hard wines to work with because the acidities were so high. My teeth suffered. I thought ‘am I going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life? Maybe I should change jobs?’ Luckily, he did not. 'In 1988, flowering was very bad for the Chardonnay. Yields were quite low and flavors were super-intense and concentrated. This, to me, is one of the keys for making great Champagne with real dimension. Interestingly, the same is not true of Pinot Noir. Keep a glass of the 1988 to compare with the 2008 later. In my opinion, 2008 is the new 1988.' (AG) Inner quote mark (12/2018)

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Outer quote mark The 1988 is a strapping, powerful Cristal. Ripe tropical fruit, butter, spices and smoke are some of the nuances that emerge from this energetic, focused Champagne. This is a rather monolithic Cristal that lacks the elegance of the finest vintages. The 1988 Cristal is unique in that it is the only vintage in which Chardonnay, at 55%, plays the dominant role in the blend. 1988 was a cool year and picking stretched into October. The late harvest largely favored Chardonnay over Pinot Noir. According to Lecaillon, the lesson learned in 1988 was that the estate needed to seriously lower yields on the Pinot in order to achieve proper ripeness. The wine was partially fermented in oak (25%) and 30% of the Pinot Noir underwent malolactic fermentation. This bottle was disgorged in late 2007, and dosage was 8 grams, quite a bit lower than is the norm these days. (AG) Inner quote mark (3/2009)

93 points Wine Spectator

Outer quote mark Intriguing and complex, with enticing aromas of fig, butter and toast, backed by mouth-filling flavors of pear, cream and apple. Long on the finish, too. Gorgeous, refined and balanced. Inner quote mark (12/1994)

Jancis Robinson

Outer quote mark [Disgorged June 2006. So very long period on lees. Very different from 1990. Classic vintage: mild July, fine August. 10% so needed to chaptalise, pH was as low as 1996. 54% Pinot Noir, 46% Chardonnay. The Cristal with the most Chardonnay ever.] Powerful and long and very evolved, Rather transparent. Lovely build on the palate. 18.5 out of 20 points. Inner quote mark (8/2007)

K&L Notes

93 points Neal Martin: "Tasted at the IMW Louis Roederer tasting. Disgorged September 2006. The nose is very rich and developing, perhaps lacking a little definition and vigour, with dried apricot nectarine, mushroom/truffle and a touch of nutmeg. The palate is medium-bodied, much more vigorous than the nose suggests, well balanced with some lovely honeyed/tangerine notes, almost viscous in texture towards the finish that is driven by the higher proportion of Chardonnay. Not quite as compelling as the Krug ’88 and perhaps let down rather by the bouquet, the palate goes a long way to compensate. Mellow and seductive. Tasted December 2009." (Wine Journal, 3/2010)


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