We were fortunate to taste a range of Champagne Krug vintages at 67 Pall Mall on Wednesday evening, expertly organised by Nick Baker of the Finest Bubble, and in the presence of host Essi Avellan MW, the Swedish Champagne aficionado.
13 wines in all including a complimentary 2011 based Grande Cuvee 167th Edition from LVMH, followed by a blind tasting of 5 pairs of Grand Cuvee editions and Vintage wines.
This was an illuminating tasting on many levels. To compare 6 different Grande Cuvee editions from the latest 2011 based back to the 2005 based 161st Edition was an exceptional experience in itself, highlighting how the Krug Grande Cuvees evolve with bottle age. To then taste seven Krug Vintage wines back to 1995 was very exciting, additionally the eldest three were in Magnums, a factor which was discussed at some length as the group began to witness the obvious and outstanding quality ‘The Magnum Effect’ of these gems. Finally to compare the Grande Cuvees alongside Vintage wines, which was one of the core experiments; how easy would it be to recognise a vintage wine against a Grande Cuvee, are they stylistically different in fact?
Essi was a little disappointed at the end as she had expected the Grands Cruvee wines to fair better points wise, when in fact the Vintage wines were overall more successful, but it was also recognised that some of these vintage wines were older and as such more complex as well as being in magnum, which was bound to be consequential.
From my own perspective, I found the GC’s to be consistently excellent and on a par with their Vintage counterparts, the 2010 based particularly outstanding.
A really fabulous tasting kudos to Tim and his enthusiasm for this most exciting of wine categories.
Krug Grande Cuvee 167th edition 2011 base
Pale with a minuscule hunk of pink hue, fine soft bead, quite lifted blood orange tinged fruit on the nose, perfumed attractive and elegant, nice tight grip and earthy style, full bodied and broad on the finish, long and real quality here. Delicate at this youthful stage. 92/100
Krug Grande Cuvee 166th edition 2010 base
Tasted blind, wine 10. Slightly less deep, slightly more meaty here, again the sweetness is here, this is very complex. Cool fruit and texture on the palate and it is quite full in the range, touch of white pepper, not super aged, but very complex for me – enjoyable now but plenty to come. A graceful style. Turned out to be 2010 base Grande Cuvee. A definite winner. 95/100
Krug Grande Cuvee 165th edition 2009 base
Tasted blind wine 7. This is slightly deeper in colour than its pair which turned out to be the 2004 Vintage Krug. This is elegant on the nose if not open, quite delicious on the palate with what seems to be very ripe fruit. There is a positive limey edge. It is tight with youthful definition, fiery on the finish. 94/100
Krug Grande Cuvee 164th edition 2008 base
Tasted Blind wine 5. Touch of evolution on the colour, this seems to have complexity on the nose, this is lovely and reserved, a little more evolved than wine 3 which it reminds me of, turned out to be the 165th Grande Cuvee 2007 based. There is that concentration manifested as wet paint, reduction! I like the balance on the palate, not forced, quite youthful. Again there is a simplicity but it is delicate and rises along. Fine central line of acidity here. Picked this one correctly. 94/100. ✅
Krug Grande Cuvee 163th edition 2007 base
Tasted blind wine 1. Seems to have very clean and clear hue, fine bead, soft brioche not overly pronounced, but there is evolution here, lean and mineral, with lemon refresher, the palate is tight and youthful, real citrus zing and intensity. Superb grip on the finish, almost Szechuan, above all limes. Great saline finish. Had this down as the 2006 Vintage Krug. 93/100
Krug Grande Cuvee 161st edition 2005 base
Tasted blind wine 4. This is considerably deeper than wine 3 tasted alongside which turned out to be the 2006 Vintage Krug. This had a lovely maturity to it, exotic and lush, coconut, the palate is smooth and weighty, there is evolution but it is still youthful on the palate, has it got the magnum effect? It’s not super complex, some oxidation, I thought this could have been the 2000 Vintage Krug. I had thought it had that remnant of oxidative style which could have pointed to the 2005 vintage. 94/100
Krug Vintage 2006
Tasted blind wine 3. Some colour evolution here, very fine bubbles, attractive sweetness coming through on the nose, red fruits, the palate is a little tight again, with quite a drying finish, thus is youthful still, getting that Szechuan again, limey. Good tension but lacking personality just now. 92/100
Krug Vintage 2004
Tasted blind wine 8. The colour is starting to golden but still quite youthful, this is a little more expressive and complex on the nose than wine 7 tasted alongside, which turned out to be the 2009 based 165th Grande Cuvee. Again the palate here is impressive with promising weight and texture, there is plenty of tension, too on the back, it is still youthful stylistically. This is promising but it isn’t quite yet in its stride. I picked this one correctly. 2004 ✅ 93/100
Krug Vintage 2003
Tasted blind wine 2. This seems to have a slightly deeper hue with a faint touch of pink, the nose is unadventurous, quite floral, this seems delicate with a touch of savoury, rounded on the palate with a cool element to the plump but quite dry length and finish, certainly seems a tad older than wine 1 tasted alongside which turned out to be the 163rd Grande Cuvee 2007 base. 93/100
Krug Vintage 2002
Tasted blind wine 12. Somewhat paler than wine 11 which turned out to be the 1995 Vintage Krug from magnum. Though there is some golden ingress. Certainly mute and less expressive than the previous, this is quite silky though on the palate, the reduction comes through on the finish, there is weight here it is impressive, slightly oily, the vintage quality signature comes through on the finish though it is still a little awkward at the moment definitely needs 2-3 more years for the richness to impress on the wine. 95/100
Krug Vintage 2000 mag
Tasted blind wine 6. Touch more colour here than many in the range, this is coffee straight away, quite a mature note but beautifully pure, would seem to be reminiscent of the 1996 on the nose, very creamy here, reminds me of wine 4 (2005 based GC) on the palate, I think this must be older, is it 1995 mag? This has a luxurious feel about it. I have tasted this in 75cl format a couple of years ago it showed well enough but the magnum factor definitely comes through as a winner. 96/100
Krug Vintage 1998 mag
Tasted blind wine 9. Slightly deeper colour here, seemingly an older wine in the range. Beautifully judged on the nose here, raspberry coulis coming through, very complex, tangerine, this is showing the evolution, slightly rustic attack on the palate with good grip and a puckering sourness on the back, again quite drying, Szechuan, biscuit. This is quite powerful. 1998 mag? Picked this one correctly. ✅ 95/100.
Krug Vintage 1995 mag
Tasted blind wine 11. Golden hue, seemingly evolved here, slow bead. On the nose it’s not overly expressive, quite marine, touch of tangerine, this is very creamy on the impressive palate, again the energy is impressive here a level up on the 1998, fierce but controlled, really fine here. A powerhouse but retains the elegant balance. Probably the wine of the night. 97/100