Sub-$20 Cult Red: The Other Roilette Speaks

Posted by Joe Salamone

The Other Roilette
2011 Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Christal

"The Clos de la Roilette is the greatest estate that I am familiar with in the commune of Fleurie." -John Gilman

Roilette is one of those rare cult producers whose bottles are, well... affordable.

Even the top-of-the-line "Tardive" bottling clocks in at a modest $25. If you've read any of our last twenty or so emails on this estate (we're a bit obsessed), you may remember the story of the 1999 Tardive that bettered a Giacosa red label. This has become a legendary bottle at Crush.

In fact, it's fair to say that for us, Roilette is nothing less than one of the greatest estates in Europe. The fact that the property is located in the oh-so-misunderstood Beaujolais region keeps the prices incredibly, impossibly low.

The 2011 Christal is one of those delicious overachievers, a versatile red that's solid enough for the table yet fresh and aromatic enough to be chilled, just a bit, and taken down poolside, on the patio, the roofdeck... wherever you may find yourself this August/September and beyond.

The Christal shows many of Roilette's signatures - dark mulberry fruit, wisps of smoke, stony dark minerals - though it is decidedly more "Fleurie." This village is the land of pink granite, a soil-type that inspires glorious aromatics, a dazzle of high-toned strawberry, a more feminine structure, silkier with more supple tannins.

If Roilette's Tardive is very long-haul Beaujolais, a bottle that almost demands cellar time, the Christal is made for the shorter term... it comes out of the gate in full effect, though have no worries holding onto Christal for the next few years.

Roilette's owner, Alain Coudert, is quick to emphasize that vinification for all his wines is very similar. It's the differences in terroir and the vine age that make a difference. Christal comes from two parcels, totaling a mere two hectares, on more typical Fleurie soils of sandy, pink granite.

The inspired Beaujolais cellar would have equal parts Tardive and Christal -Tardive for the long haul, the Christal for the wait! There's no getting around that Tardive is the longer-lived wine capable of higher highs, but Christal makes up for this with its expressiveness, its gorgeous aromatics, its weave of accessible textures...

And, apologies for repeating ourselves, there is the price. Consider the solid case if you can - you won't be disappointed.

As the Gilman quote above makes clear, even though Tardive captures most people's attention, the winemaking at Roilette is careful and quality-obsessed. Christal shows just how sensitive, how in-tune the winemaking is.

If you're someone who thinks of wine as something that should be delicious, fresh, fun to drink and actually affordable, well, the Christal should be a key part of your weekly arsenal.

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits