1996 Champagne Krug, Brut
Antonio Galloni - 22/12/2009
About this WINE
Krug was established in 1843 and has since specialised in producing only prestige and specialised champagnes. Krug is the only firm still producing all its champagne in small oak casks, an essential element for developing Krug's intense bouquet and complex flavours. Today, Henri, Rémi and Olivier Krug, who supervise every step of production, tasting and blending, represent the 5th and 6th generations.
With long periods of maturation (6-8 years), Krug champagne continues to age gracefully after release, developing an intensely rich, nutty flavour whilst remaining remarkably fresh.
Krug`s finest champagne is Clos du Mesnil, a 100%-Chardonnay based champagne that comes from a small walled vineyard at Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. It is one of the world`s greatest Blanc de Blanc champagnes.
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.
Recommended Producers : Krug, Billecart Salmon, Pol Roger, Bollinger, Salon, Gosset, Pierre Péters, Ruinart
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.
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We are very pleased to have sourced an immaculate parcel of one of the world's greatest champagnes in an outstanding vintage: 1996 Krug. If Dom Perignon is Champagne's Lafite, Krug is Champagne's Latour; there is a regality and class about this wine that is unmistakable. Their 1996 is as outstanding as one would expect and the critics are united on this one.
A bottle opened in the office has split opinions, though only on when to drink it. It does show some development, and is very attractive now for some, though personally I would give this a few more years. Spectacular.
Berry Bros. & Rudd Fine Wine
A year like no other, 1996 in Champagne married the highest levels of sugar and acidity in living memory; the resulting wines are extraordinary in their concentration, yet perfectly poised in terms of structural definition. A seductive golden colour then a surprisingly forward nose which marries honey, acacia, brioche and truffle; it is on the palate that the identity of the year really starts to sing, with minerality providing a taut and still precocious texture. Beneath this the ripe fruit is slumbering; its ultimate manifestation will herald unparalled complexity and profundity. Similar to the 88 but I suspect it will, over time, be even better.
Simon Field MW, Wine Buyer
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