Cristal has become synonymous with the more indulgent lifestyles of the rich and famous and has even been featured in rap and hip hop music and videos.
Although its quality is unquestionable, I’m going to assume that its notoriety among the celebrity set is due more to the high-end image associated with Cristal (which began in the 1840′s when Tsar Nicholas II declared the house as the official wine supplier to the Imperial Court of Russia) than to the fact that part of its makeup now includes biodynamically grown grapes. According to our latest information, 50% of the grapes used in the Cristal blend are from the House’s biodynamic plots. In fact, I would bet that that little piece of information has not even crossed their radar screens. This is however, a very momentous occurrence.
If you’re not familiar with the term biodynamic, it’s essentially a step above an organic designation. It’s a method that views the farm as a self sustaining eco system with a heavy focus on the soil’s fertility and its interrelationship with the plants, animals and planetary influences. In wine making, this method seeks to extract the area’s terroir to its fullest potential. See more detailed info on biodynamic agriculture.
Despite common sense, as well as proclamations by some of the world’s top chefs regarding the superiority of organic foods over conventionally grown foods, there are still far too many who consider organic and biodynamic foods to be nothing more than a hoax by organic farmers in order to charge more for their produce. So, the fact that such a well and long established House of Champagne, known for its dedication to superior quality, is finding great benefits in biodynamic agriculture is very significant.
The Louis Roederer Champagne House began experimenting with biodynamic grapes in 2000. Currently, 60 hectares out of a total of 230 are dedicated to biodynamic viticulture, or about 26%, with the remainder being managed sustainably. None of the House’s grapes are grown using conventional methods. The House has found that biodynamic and organic grapes are sweeter, which results in grapes with a higher potential for alcohol that can also be picked earlier.
Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, the house’s Deputy CEO, and Chief of cellars confirms the benefits of biodynamic viticulture, “far from being irrational, biodynamics is to return to the traditional, common sense, along with of course acting more environmentally friendly, to be even closer to Nature.” And adds that “Ultimately, with biodynamics, the road we are driving on is very easy and simple. It’s about getting the highest expression of terroir we can, while practicing a viticulture more respectful towards Nature. Respect more, to get better!”
Although there are currently a number of truly excellent biodynamic and organic champagnes in the marketplace, a few of which we’ve looked at previously, such as Champagne R. Pouillon et Fils and Champagne Larmandier-Bernier, they are not yet as widely known as Roederer’s Cristal. The Champagne House Louis Roederer is perfectly positioned to take a leading role in raising awareness of the benefits of biodynamic and organic viticulture and agriculture within the mainstream.
Our New Years wish for everyone is for much love, great health, lots of happiness, and prosperity, but also for a greater sense of clarity as to what a true luxury really is, something that provides pleasure, while at the same time being respectful of and learning from the amazing and complex ecosystem in which live.
Happy 2013! And may we soon see a Cristal vintage made with 100% biodynamic grapes!