When Louis Roederer brought its ‘champagne with the overpowering reputation’ to town, at an exclusive dinner at Prego
BACK in February, a well-curated prestige cuvee dinner at the Leela Palace saw a symphony of over eight high-profile Champagnes. Paired with culinary experiments like cardamom salmon or seared scallops and green mango, there was the Bollinger Grand Année 2002, the Drappier Grande Sendrée 1999, and the shiny Armand de Brignac. But what was memorable, also thanks to the story and food that accompanied it, was the Louis Roederer Cristal 2004. Our host for the evening, Rajiv Singhal, Champagne ambassador, took his audience through the history of how Cristal was crafted at the behest of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The clear bottle and flat bottom had a purpose – the paranoid monarch wanted to see that it was not poisoned. And the flat bottom ensured nothing lethal could be hidden inside the ‘punt’. There is yet another story about how music mogul Jay-Z endorsed the product and sold it in his nightclubs. But then a scandal in 2006 resulted in him boycotting the bubbly. All said and done, Cristal continues to remain one of the most expensive and sought after champagnes in the world. It is delicious, with structured texture and length. And this is why, when Taj Coromandel decided to host the city’s first Cristal dinner by Champagne Louis Roederer at Prego, there was barely-contained excitement.
The dinner, led by Thierry Wallaert, Louis Roederer’s Export Area Manager, last evening, had a discreet guest list and gems like sugar beet carpaccio, Milanese risotto, braised lamb rack with Pommery mash and mango tiramisu. Wallaert, on his first visit to the country, was up for experimentation. Louis Roederer (one of the last-remaining Champagne houses that is still family-owned) is very unique, but Cristal, the rockstar everyone seemed in awe of, needed no introduction. What came as a pleasant surprise to the gathering was Louis Roederer’s golden Brut Premier, a blend of four vintages. And the Louis Roederer Rose Vintage 2008. The last, a personal favourite and Wallaert’s as well, is a special vintage and perfect for our unending summer. In fact, he shared how he could imagine drinking it right through his week-long trip. Louis Roederer’s quiet popularity among connoisseurs is thanks to less flash, more substance, he insists, concluding, ‘‘We focus on the wines and the vineyards more than on marketing.’’
Cristal is served at The Leela Brunch (at Rs. 50,000++ for two) and is retailed at Rs. 72,000++ at the bar. At Taj Coromandel, Cristal is about Rs. 40,000 and LR Brut Premier is about Rs. 6,000 a bottle. The sweetest deal? The latter at Rs. 1,000 by the glass. The Sunday brunch at Anise next month, will feature it as well. Details: 66002834
— Rosella Stephen