Ranked #1 of 15 2008 Chardonnay Pinot Noir from Champagne
This is truly a magnificent wine and a great Cristal. Unusual for it to have any malolactic, but this had 16% , and whereas Cristal is normally disgorged after eight years on lees, this had 10, and was released after the '09. It's a very precise, refined, tensioned wine which echoes the chardonnay and chalk much more than the 2002, which was tasted beside it, the '02 being a more pinoty style (although both are 60% pinot). With aromas of small flowers, mineral and almost alarmingly fresh, it has penetrating flavour and tremendous length. A wine of magnificent harmony, dexterously combining finesse and power.
Drink: to 2028
98 Points Robert Parker
Disgorged in September 2017 with 7.5 grams per liter dosage, the 2008 Cristal was produced from 37 of the 45 parcels that are candidates for inclusion in this cuvée—some 40% of which were farmed organically back in 2008—and it's a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The finest young Cristal in decades, the wine wafts from the glass with a pure and vibrant bouquet of crisp orchard fruit, clear honey, warm brioche, citrus zest and white flowers. On the palate, it's full-bodied, intense and incisive, with superb concentration, racy acids and a long, searingly chalky finish. Pristinely balanced, there are some 500,000 bottles of this legend-in-the-making.
Source: Robert Parker (Robert Parker Wine Advocate) by William Kelley. March, 2020
97 Points Robert Parker
Let's start describing the 2008 Cristal technically first. It is a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 36 plots in seven grands crus: Verzy, Verzenay, Beaumont and Aÿ for the Pinot Noir and Mesnil, Avize and Cramant for the Chardonnay. Twenty-five percent of the wine was fermented in oak, and 16% underwent malolactic fermentation to moderate the fresh acidity of the 2008 vintage. The assemblage was bottled in May 2009. After 8.5 years on the second lees (longer than any Cristal before), the first release was disgorged in September 2017 with a relatively low dosage of 7.5 grams per liter.
Source: Robert Parker (Robert Parker Wine Advocate) by Stephan Reinhardt. June, 2018
99 Points Tyson Stelzer
‘2008 was a legendary vintage, very close to 1996,’ Lécaillon recalls. ‘But we were disappointed with 1996; it was
not as exceptional as we had hoped. So we made this wine thinking of 1996, and did four things differently that we
didn’t do very well then. 2008 was a cool year and I knew I had to add sunshine which was not in the vineyards,
so I brought it in the cellar in malolactic, oak and time on lees. I always considered that we picked 1996 a week
too early. So when 2008 arrived with a similar pattern, I became obsessed, so I waited, to make sure I picked ripe.
Second, 1996 had only 3% oak fermentation, and we bumped it up to 22% in 2008 for more sweetness, and to round
its firm acidity. There was no malolactic fermentation in 1996, so I went for 16% in 2008, not much, but sufficient
to soften the acidity a bit and give the feeling of an oiliness to the mid-palate. Finally, when we came to disgorge at
seven years, like we always do with Cristal, it was not ready, so for the first time ever we released non-sequentially
and launched 2009 first. This gave 2008 nine years on lees before disgorgement, much more than we did in 1996,
which really helped to soften the texture.’ This made 2008 the first Cristal to be released at 10 years of age.
Cristal 2008 is the ultimate and absolute embodiment of Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon’s fanatical work in the winery and,
most of all, in the vineyards – a magnificent, towering monument to the lofty chalk aspiration that defines Cristal.
Many have declared 2008 to be the greatest Cristal of the modern era, not least Lécaillon himself. It achieves
this ambition not by a fanfare of pyrotechnics, but by the precision and focus that define the greatest Champagne
vintage of recent decades. The struck-flint and gunpowder complexity of the reductive Roederer style lends a subtle
complexity to the start. This is quickly swept up in a beautifully focused flow of chardonnay’s lemon freshness and
pinot noir’s red berry and apple fruit. On first release, the most delicate strawberry hull, more recently graduating
to wonderful depth of black cherry. A decade of age lends the subtle beginnings of almond nougat and understated
mixed spice. The chalk mineral mandate of Cristal is exemplified in all-consuming presence like no vintage before
it, as the planets aligned when the exacting purity and energy of 2008 met the ever more focused regime of Jean-
Baptiste and his team, benefiting from all the learnings of 1996 and every season since. The result is a brilliant flash
of signature 2008 malic acidity, stark as high-noon daylight, illuminating in dazzling radiance the crystalline chalk
minerality of old vines deeply rooted in the greatest terroirs. It churns and froths with sea salt minerality, a beach-
fresh, aquamarine landscape that at once confronts you with its vivid, stark brilliance and simultaneously calms you
with its peaceful, ordered beauty. In line and length it is other-worldly, hovering motionless literally for minutes,
at once lighter than air, yet thunderingly expansive, soaring to the epitome Cristal heights. A true masterpiece
by every definition, quintessential Cristal and unreservedly the greatest I have tasted. It will not attain its full
potential until at least 2038, and its mesmerising spectacle will continue for at least half a century. Drink to 2038+.
Source: Tyson Stelzer.