November 2017, Score: 96
This was the first Grande Cuvée to be labeled as an ‘Édition’. 183 reserve wines went into the blend from 12 different vintages, with the oldest being 1990 and the youngest 2007. It announces itself with a typically full and intense nose of brioche, citrus and honey, which follows through onto the broad, rich and focussed palate, a tangy mélange of lemon, almond, oatmeal and praline which is super-concentrated yet full of vitality and vim. This is clearly drinking well now and provides huge pleasure with its supple acidity, creamy texture and delicate, persistent mousse.
Since 1843, with unique single-mindedness and sense of purpose, the Krug family have proudly cultivated the markedly individual character of their exceptional champagne. A certain idea of excellence has been quietly redefined through six generations without a break. Krug’s founder, Johann-Joseph Krug, was a maverick who turned his back on a comfortable position in an established champagne house to strike out on his own. He had not only the vision, but also the talent, to achieve his ambition of creating champagne with a taste quite unlike any other. Subsequent generations of the Krug family not merely honoured his achievement, but amplified it, bringing genuine pride and passion to their craft. Krug champagne is the culmination of painstaking care and unrivalled craftsmanship. The result is a taste that is instantly identifiable and utterly unforgettable – a breathtaking abundance of flavours, an extraordinary contrast of richness and freshness, power and finesse. Not only is Krug a personal favourite of experts and connoisseurs, it is regarded the world over as the ultimate expression of discernment and individuality.
Champagne, the world’s greatest sparkling wine, needs little introduction – with imitations produced in virtually every country capable of growing grapes, including such unlikely candidates as India and China. The Champagne region, to the north of Paris, has the most northerly vineyards in France, with vines grown on slopes with a southerly exposure to maximise sunlight. The soil is chalky, providing an excellent balance of drainage and water retention. The key to the wine is in the cellar – the bubbles result from a second fermentation in the bottle and the rich toasty flavours in great Champagne come from extended bottle ageing on the yeasty lees. Until the eighteenth century, the wines produced in the Champagne area were light acidic white wines, with no hint of sparkle. However glass and closure technology developed at that time and it was not long before Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvilliers, started experimenting with blends and produced the first recognisable champagne. In a world accustomed to still wines, the advent of champagne was almost a flop. It was saved when it became fashionable at the French court as a result of Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour commenting “Champagne isthe only wine that lets a woman remain beautiful after she has drunk it.” And the rest is history, with famous (or infamous) champagne lovers including Casanova, Dumas, Wagner, Winston Churchill, James Bond and Coco Chanel.