About this WINE
Anselme Selosse, variously described as eccentric, obsessed, charismatic and messianic,depending on one's point of view, is one of the most fascinating vignerons at work in Champagne today. His philosophy is conspicuously Burgundian in the winery, where all of his 35 Chardonnay plots (in Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil, Ay, Mareuil-sur- Ay and Ambonnay) are vinified separately in small Burgundian barrels that have been bought in from Domaine Leflaive, no less.
Eschewing malolactic fermentation and keeping the dosage low are practices which find empirical antithesis in the ripeness of fruit which has been farmed as late as possible. Man and wine alike court strong opinion, in itself no bad thing in a region dominated by the power of the ur-Grandes Marques.
The range includes:
Initial - a blend of three vintages of Chardonnay grapes, aged for at least 2 years before disgorgement in a Brut style. Version Originale is also a blend of three vintages of Chardonnay, but aged longer in bottle (42 months) before disgorgment and has very little dosage (Extra Brut) style.
Millésime - a single vintage Blanc de Blancs from the grapes of two vineyards in Avize, Le Mont de Cramant and Les Chantereines. Substance is a Blanc de Blancs from a single vineyard in Avize. This Champagne is made in a unique solera system with the base grapes for this wine coming from the 1987 vintage, the blend is topped up with more recent vintages each year.
Contraste is a Blanc de Noirs, made from Pinot Noir grapes, from a single vineyard (La Côte Faron in the village of Aÿ), also made in a solera style with the base grapes from the 1994 vintage. Exquise is a Demi-Sec Blanc de Blancs champagne, with around 24g/l of dosage.
Brut denotes a dry style of Champagne (less than 15 grams per litre). Most Champagne is non-vintage, produced from a blend from different years. The non-vintage blend is always based predominately on wines made from the current harvest, enriched with aged wines (their proportion and age varies by brand) from earlier harvests, which impart an additional level of complexity to the end wine. Champagnes from a single vintage are labelled with the year reference and with the description Millésimé.
Non-vintage Champagnes can improve with short-term ageing (typically two to three years), while vintages can develop over much longer periods (five to 30 years). The most exquisite and often top-priced expression of a house’s style is referred to as Prestige Cuvée. Famous examples include Louis Roederer's Cristal, Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.
Which grapes are included in the blend, and their proportion, is one of the key factors determining the style of most Champagnes. Three grapes are used - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.
Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.
The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.