Champagne is 'a serious thing', even for those familiar with wine. Champagne has that unusual habit of showing up in an evening dress and never making you feel too comfortable in your Sunday dress. I myself, when opening a bottle of Champagne I suffer a kind of reverential fear. I am surprised to find myself shy and reserved; when I rotate the bottle, at the exact moment when the cap is seduced and comes away surrendering, without clamor, that slight sound, that sigh of carbon dioxide that escapes from the bottle, is like the tenor that illuminates the voice at the opening of the curtain of the Teatro Costanzo in Rome.
Cristal is not 'the adventure of a night'. Crystal's not what they've always told you. Icon? Status symbol? Cliché? All fake... or all true. It depends on the eyes of the beholder.
All true, why? Cristal comes from a whim. Tsar Alexander II of Russia commissioned the Maison Roederer to have a champagne that impressed at the Diner des trois empereurs, a dinner held at Café Anglais in Paris, a ceremony that included sixteen courses and eight wines to be served strictly in eight hours. However, few will remember the Tsar as the one who, though unknowingly, sponsored the first cuvée prestige in the history of champagne. Alexander II of Russia will be best known, rather, for having been the victim - I dare say, literally - of a paradox: the political situation of Russia at the end of the nineteenth century was rather hot and unstable as to feed in the Tsar the belief that he would suffer an attack. What could be interpreted by many as an illogical paranoia led him to make a specific and unusual request to Roederer: it required that the bottle be purely crystal, transparent, so that any presence of poison inside, could be easily recognizable (hence, Cristal). It was not enough: it required that the bottom of the bottle be completely flat in such a way that no device, or gunpowder, could be disguised in the incave of the bottle. I used the word 'paradoxical' not by chance: the Tsar will die a short time later, without having the glass full of bubbles, but trivially as he returned to the Winter Palace in a carriage. Obviously, the victim of an attack.
Cristal was born almost like a novel by Tolstoy, and then, in the nineties it changed skin and become an urban legend: she stripped off her evening dress and wore a wide jumpsuit and sneakers, becoming an icon and whore of hip-pop culture. Paradox again: Notorius will end badly, just like Alexander II.
The nineties, however, are over: let's lower the volume of All eyes on me. Cristal remains Geber's asset. It's still unreachable, the diva, the celebrity. Cristal, however, no longer sings angry music at 110 bpm. Now for the vineyards which were converted to biodynamics at maison Roederer you hear Casta Diva, in the superb interpretation of Callas. Even champagne, conventional wine par excellence, perfection of wine technicality, you want to return to simplicity, at a less pressing pace, calibrated this time at 40 beats per minute. The différence Cristal, the slogan of the maison advertising campaign that inaugurates this new bio project, also redeorates the market.
So, différent? All fake. Beauty is not objective, as is the pleasantness of a wine. Beauty is in the eyes of those who know how to look at it. Cristal to me is like Magdalene. I don't look at it with the eyes of others. For me Crystal 2009 will forever remain the best wine I drank in the summer of 2019, when from the balcony of a studio apartment in Monti. I was in love, unconscious.