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Roederer previews arrival of Cristal Vinothèque

Champagne Louis Roederer has heralded the coming launch of its ex-cellar releases of Cristal and its 241st anniversary with a surrealist spectacle at its Reims headquarters.

The end of the dinner. Photo credit: Louis David

Held this week, the dinner marked not only the house’s anniversary but also the (long-awaited) up-coming launch of the late release Cristal ‘Vinothèque’ on 20 October; with a preview tasting of the 1995 brut and 1996 rosé.

The two wines are the first in a new series of expressions for the prestige cuvée label that has been a long time in coming.

Back in 2014 the drinks business broke the news that the house was planning to release old, bottle-aged vintages of Cristal, with cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon hoping back then that they would be released in 2015 or 2016.

The release was pushed back and back, and it was hoped to launch the wine earlier this year but the scheduled dinner in June was scuppered when, on a boiling hot day, a fire on the TGV line stranded the majority of guests in Paris.

There were no such issues this week and Louis Roederer’s managing director, Frédéric Rouzaud said how glad he was to, finally, be able to greet his guests and thanked those who had made the journey for the second time.

What followed was a spectacular dinner designed by Belgian Charles Kaisin and prepared by David Martin who owns the Michelin-starred restaurants La Paix and Bozar Brasserie in Brussels.

The dinner featured performances by French actress Armelle, a wine glass-playing Harlequin and an appearance by the world champion stilt-walking team from Belgium and, of course, the new Cristal Vinothèque wines.

Officially launched on 20 October, the wines will be offered in the UK in early November – most likely.

Interested buyers should take note however that allocations across the world will be extremely limited as, in total, only 400 bottles of the brut and 200 bottles of the rosé will be released.

With just 48 bottles of brut and 12-18 bottles of the rosé going to the UK, one can well appreciate Roederer’s executive vice-president, Michel Janneau’s comment that there will be just, “a dusting of wine in each market.”

Speaking to db, Richard Billett, managing director of the Roederer Group’s distribution arm in the UK, Maisons, Marques & Domaines, explained that the wine would be offered first to prestige retailers and the high-end on-trade.

Given the unique nature of the release, the appetite for prestige cuvée Champagne at the moment and the extremely limited amount of wine, there is every reason to think it will sell out quickly – although Billett added that the pricing of each bottle was not yet known.

He also added that the wines were only going to be in bottle and that there would be no magnums – for this release at least.

He added that MMD UK had seen a huge surge in demand for magnums this year, “and not just for Champagne either. We had to begin to allocate in the end as we were going to run out.”

Click through (or scroll through if on mobile) to see a few more pictures of the surrealist event.

©Louis David

Everything, finally, ready to go.

©Louis David

©Louis David

The evening included interludes featuring French actress Armelle (right in the spotlight), dressed in 18th century attire and featuring plenty of jeu de mots, as well as a wine-glass playing harlequin.

©Louis David

©Louis David

Each course was brought in by a troupe of dancers who had (almost) as many costume changes as Lady Gaga at one of her gigs.

©Louis David

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