DFWE 2011: Krug Masterclass

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For most participants of the Krug master class, the order of the flight seemed astounding: starting with the rare, just released Clos du Mesnil 2000, and ending with... two non-vintage cuvees.

Decanter Fine Wine Encounter 2011 - Saturday

Cellar master Eric Lebel and Krug marketing director Romain Cans explained: "There is no hierarchy at Krug".

The Clos du Mesnil 2000 exuded subtle, sumptuous depth, delicate and distinct pear and floral notes, brioche and burgeoning citrus and ripe green apple, representing "the purest expression of Chardonnay" Lebel said.

Participants learned how discriminating Krug is. There was supposed to be a 1999 release of the Clos du Mesnil, but at the last minute, Lebel decided that the wine did not represent the standards expected.

Master class participants Niraj Shah and Madiha Khan came away impressed with the meticulous methodology at Krug: "This class helped us to understand how special Krug is, and to better understand the prices," they told Decanter.com afterwards.

Tasters enjoyed four Krug vintages (1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000), wines generally made with about 2/3 Pinots (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). What stole the show for many was the stunningly opulent and brilliantly nervy 1996, which Lebel dubbed the "10/10" wine, because of its 10 grams of acidity per litre (higher than the 7.5 average) and 10% natural alcohol, quite ripe for Champagne.

The flight nearly ended with two non vintage "Krug Grand Cuvees": including the most recently released blend, based on the 2003 harvest, plus 30-50% reserve wine from some nine other vintages, and the 2009 release, based on the rather awful 2001 harvest, with 50% reserve wine, Cans said.

The Krug representatives went to great lengths to explain the hard work in making the non vintage wines.

Krug Champagne is not aged in oak, but fermented in oak, stressed Cans to the packed room. Why not use small steel vats, which would be just as efficient for parcel-by-parcel fermentation? The 205-litre barrels allow for “a better exchange with oxygen," Cans said, to make them all the more fit for ageing.

Participants were treated also to a just-released "Krug Collection 1989" – the same wine as the regular vintage, but disgorged several years later. Release dates for Krug Collection bottles depend on vintage quality. The 1988, for example, has not yet been released, because it can benefit from longer ageing.

Panos Kakaviatos

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