Strong demand for the Krug 2003 vintage has led to several merchants selling out within hours of releasing their allocations.
Chef de Caves Eric Lebel and Olivier Krug with the Krug 2003
Krug‘s winemaking team left it nearly a decade before deciding to make the 2003 vintage, which is the fruit of a notoriously difficult growing season in Champagne.
Only a small volume has been produced and, following praise from several critics, buyers have been quick to pounce on merchants’ offers – underlining not only Krug’s popularity but also rising consumer interest in vintage Champagne.
‘We got a good allocation and we sold out very quickly,’ Joss Fowler, director at Fine & Rare, told decanter.com. Cases of six bottles went on sale at £785 in bond on 24 January and were gone within 24 hours.
Initial figures show that those buying early and by the case have received a substantial discount on Krug’s recommended retail price of around £230 for an singular bottle.
‘Demand was high and we sold out in a matter of hours,’ said Gareth Birchley, buyer at Bordeaux Index, which sold cases of 12 bottles for £1,570 in bond, equating to around £130-a-bottle. ‘Allocations were very tight.’
It was a similar story at the Queen’s official wine merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd, which also sold out quickly. ‘We didn’t do a general offer on it, we hand-sold it,’ said Matthew Tipping, Berrys’ fine wine sales manager. Berrys sold the ’03 for £786 per six-bottle case.
Sales have also been going well at Farr Vintners, according to one of its directors, Tom Hudson. ‘We got a decent allocation,’ he said. Farr has priced similarly to its rivals, selling at £1,570 per 12 bottles in bond.
It remains unclear whether more supplies will be made available, and Krug has not released official production figures, but some merchants are hopeful. ‘We are trying,’ said Fine & Rare’s Fowler.
Speaking to decanter.com in London ahead of the official launch today (31 January), Olivier Krug called ’03 the most challenging vintage in his 26 years at the Champagne house.
During that year, Champenois contended with April frost, extreme summer heat and the earliest harvest since 1822. Chardonnay was badly hit and, as a result, Krug ’03 contains just 25% of the varietal, versus 43% and 45% Chardonnay in Krug 2000 and 1998 respectively.
The ’03 also contains 25% Pinot Meunier, with Pinot Noir making up the rest.
Krug said of the strong demand for ’03, ‘this is a high interest event, because no one will have expected Krug to produce a 2003. I think people are buying it both as an investment, but also for investing for their pleasure in a few years.’
Krug’s main focus is securing enough wine for its non-vintage Grande Cuvee, and it only produces a vintage in certain years.
For more insight on Krug 2003, read Georgina Hindle’s blog of her interview with Olivier Krug and Chef de Caves Eric Lebel here.
Written by Chris Mercer