The 2002 Cristal Rosé has always been suspected to become a legend one day. Now, nine years later, the onion-colored wine has arrived in the Olympus of the finest Champagnes. Clear, matured and vinous on the intense and complex yet very delicate nose, this is a lush, succulent, perfectly round and intense 2002 that equilibrates its generosity and texture with great elegance and spellbinding balance. Stunningly, this seamless, charmingly seductive and voluptuous character is combined with great purity and harmony, especially in the finish that is not just round and caressing but also fresh, piquant and stimulatingly salty. Is there anything more we could expect from a Rosé Champagne? Even if you served me the wine in a black glass, it would still be a gorgeous, beautiful wine. Yes, it's wine rather than anything else, and its bubbly vinosity makes me desperate for more. If I just could, I would marry the 2002 Cristal Rosé straightaway. The cuvée reflects a great continental vintage as well as the stupendous terroirs of Aÿ (Pinot Noir: 60%), Avize and Mesnil (Chardonnay: 40%). The bottle I tasted at Roederer in Reims in May 2018 was disgorged in 2011, so, like the 2008, after eight years on the second lees.
Postscript: When I came back home from the tasing two weeks later and re-read my notes that finished with, "This is very, very close to 100 points," and had the score as "99+" (the most brutal of all scores), I asked myself: was this artificial reservation just because of the stupendous potential of the 2008 Cristal? Or was it due to the fact the 2002 Cristal Rosé could be topped by the 2002 Cristal Rosé Vinothèque in five years or so? Sometimes we critics tend to be too academic while speed tasting wine, and we don't have the spontaneous joy of drinking wine like our readers. If I only had the choice, I would have ended my day with the 2002 Cristal Rosé, but in fact, I met the wine only for 15 to 20 minutes. I loved it, it's a spellbinding beauty, but is this 2002 really the first 100-pointer Champagne in the 40-year history of The Wine Advocate? I don't know if it is the best Champagne of the past 40 years (I would never say that for any wine), but in fact, I would be the first reviewer giving a Champagne the perfect score. Is this wine really worth it? Today, I am asking myself why I have put myself through these questions instead of just drinking a glass of this Rosé Cristal, at least one! What do we know about tomorrow? Will we still be here? Will the 2008 be as good as the 2002 is right now just because the grapes were cultivated 100% biodynamically, thus with even more care? Well, here and now is the 2002, and it will most likely not get any better but will keep its high class for years. It is doubtlessly the finest Rosé Champagne I have ever had, and if I had to write down all the attributes I like to find in a perfect Rosé, it would be charm, finesse and generosity as well as freshness, intensity and purity, or simply: "Just like the Cristal Rosé 2002."