It’s always educational, and a treat, to taste the latest vintage of Louis Roederer’s flagship Cristal Champagne. This cuvee is sourced from 45 separate plots covering just under 200 acres spread between the villages of Verzeny, Verzy, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Aÿ, Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Cramant. The vineyards are farmed either organically or biodynamically and are planted to a 60/40 split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Each parcel is vinified separately and for the 2014, only 39 parcels made the final selection, with the blend being roughly 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The wine has the malolactic fermentation blocked and is brought up in a mix of 32% oak and 68% tank. This was a warmer year that saw fabulous springtime weather, a slightly cooler, rainy summer, and a great end of the year.

The 2014 fits in nicely in recent vintages and has a style all its own, showing a fleshy, round, nicely concentrated style reminiscent of the 2012 yet not quite the precision of either the 2008 or 2013. Gorgeous and classic Cristal stone fruit, chalky minerality, white flowers, almond paste, and subtle toast emerge on the nose and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a supple, almost creamy texture, terrific balance, and a great finish. It’s surprisingly approachable yet I’ve no doubt it will evolve nicely given its mid-palate depth and overall balance. It’s beautiful today and a terrific Cristal to enjoy over the coming two decades or so. It’s unquestionably more approachable than either the 2013 or 2008, but not far off qualitatively. 96 points.