Despite my best efforts to the contrary it was with leaden foot that I traversed a gloomy London evening. Not the contraflow of weary, waterlogged citizens nor the interminable mizzle that caused my reluctance; it was a more profound melancholy.
There are times when anticipation can only cow the reality, when the expectation leaves no quarter for the experience. Seldom does the physical surpass the imagination. It was such thoughts that kept me ill company on my journey to taste what had become, for some time, a preoccupation.
Starting in the wine trade, Grande Cuvée bemused and intrigued me in equal measure. Whereas other non-vintage champagnes wandered amongst the foothills of their vintage siblings, here was a towering wine that faced down other marques’ prestige cuvees. Krug proclaim the multi vintage (MV) Grande Cuvée as their flag bearer, the essence of the house, the ‘archetype of their philosophy’ and they are rightly proud. Drinking Grande Cuvée is one of life’s great pleasures.
What possible outcome when this ethos intersects with a single outstanding year? Does one run the risk of gilding the lily? No. If Grande Cuvée is good, vintage Krug is better. Having opened a bottle of 1989 Krug, I resolved to drink more vintage Krug. The 1985, 1988, 1990 are superb wines, the 1996 arguably one of the greatest of all – these are benchmark champagnes. What would the 2002 incarnation hold? Would the reality surpass the expectation?
2002 Krug is stunning.
The most impressive aspect to the wine is the balance. It is incredible how the weight of fruit hangs so effortlessly on the formidable structure. As Olivier Krug recounted the grapes were so perfectly ripe, there is a battle for supremacy: notes of peachy, white fruit from the Chardonnay marry gorgeously with the darker, haunting smokiness of the Pinot fruit. At first reticent, the wine’s tautness belying its staggering concentration, after time a citrus intensity reveals itself, all the while rapier like acidity cuts a dash across the palate, ensuring the lengthy finish leaves only one possible outcome – another taste, further affirmation.
“A vintage is made if nature has given a story worth sharing” Olivier Krug