Krug Vintage tasting in May 2012

Bergs Lars is pouring Krug, but his tie is from Taittinger.

At the end of May I attended a Krug tasting arranged by Bergs Lars Hansson, a writer from a small town to the north who has a great interest in old wines, and who sometimes arranges tastings on this theme. The tasting was in Stockholm though, so we didn’t have to wrestle wolves, polar bears and what-not on our way there.

I first encountered Bergs Lars almost five years ago, when he arranged two tastings of old Madeira in Stockholm. We got reacquainted at the DRC 2009 tasting this spring. Actually, I’ve never met him unless exceptional wines have been served at the same time, so he’s really someone worth keeping an eye out for!

Since I first wanted to write down my impressions from Decanter’s Krug Masterclass in November 2011(where I wrote down some general things about Krug which I won’t repeat here) I never got around to write down my impressions directly after that tasting. What finally convinced me to give myself a kick in the backside (proverbially speaking) was another Krug tasting last weekend, where I promised to write it up rather soon. No, I actually don’t drink Krug all the time – I only attend a larger Krug tasting about semiannually, with only the odd bottle consumed in-between. 🙂

The tasting was focusted on Krug Vintage, with two non-vintage/”multivintage” Krug (Grande Cuvée) as reference.

Krug Grande Cuvée
The oldest label design for Grande Cuvée (“yellow”), from the period 1978-1983.
Grape varieties: approx 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier

Appearance: Amber, some deposits, some mousse with good persistence.
Nose: Madeirized, dried fruit, fudge, some yellow fruit and citrus fruit (oranges), nutty (walnuts), rum-soaked raisins, slightly more smokey after some time in the glass.
Palate: Yellow fruit, oranges, some dried fruit, discrete madeirized notes, more sweetish than the other Grande Cuvée, just a hint of bitterness, high acidity, fresh and minerally finish.
Summary: Complex notes, but a little over the hill. Not for further cellaring. 90 p.

The two Grande Cuvée, the older on the left and the younger from magnum on the right.

Krug Grande Cuvée
Magnum of the current label design (“beige”) but without ID code, from 2004-2011, this bottle probably from early in that period.
Grape varieties: approx 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier

Appearance: Bright yellow, good mousse
Nose: Noticeably smoket, vanilla, fudge, yellow apple, peach, an impression of cream, discrete oak barrel notes. Slightly developed, elegant.
Palate: Citrus, good concentration of fruit, very fresh acidity, very good length with grapefruit and mineral.
Summary: Some development, still young, 92+ p.

Krug 1985
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

Appearance: Gyllengul.
Nose: Ripe yellow fruit, strong orange notes, zest, slightly flowery, some hints of smoke, and some dried fruit and nuttiness.
Palate: Fresh and fruity attack, orange, grapefruit and other citrus fruits, an impression of sweet fruit, good acidity (but not as high as the other wines). Fruity and citrus-fresh aftertaste.
Summary: Nice maturity but not really old, although it’s probably reached its peak. Not as creamy and smokey as Grande Cuvée. 92 p.

Krug 1988
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

Appearance: Light golden yellow.
Nose: Ripe citrus, slightly nutty (walnuts), hints of fuge, some flowers, hints of honey and smoke. Very discrete herbal notes and some vanilla develop after a while. Very elegant.
Palate: Great concentration, citrus fruits (grapefruit), young impression, very mineral, high acidity, discretely spiced, very good length with impressions of grapefruit and freshness in the aftertaste.
Summary: Still young on the palate, 95+ p.

Krug 1989
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

Appearance: Golden yellow
Nose: Powerful nose of ripe yellow fruit, oranges, some fudge, some dried fruit and raisins, smoke and impressions of sweet fruit, rather noticeable nuttiness, a hint of oak barrel notes.
Palate: Very good concentration, fruity, oranges, peach, red apple, good acidity (about the same level as the 1985), some mineral, foody style. Fresh finish and fruity aftertaste with a hint of bitterness.
Summary: Fully mature, but not really old. Reminds me slightly of a good Bollinger. 93 p.

Krug 1990
40% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay, and 23% Pinot Meunier.

Appearance: Golden yellow, but slightly lighter in colour than 1985 and 1989.
Doft: Ripe yellow fruit, winter apples, oranges, a hint of honey, some smoke, slightly nutty, some bread, discrete oak barrel notes.
Palate: Powerful, quite concentrated, rather high acidity (definitely higher than 1989 and 1985), rather mineral, citrus, red apple, some peach. Rather fruity aftertaste with mineral and grapefruit.
Summary: Rather mature, can definitely take more cellaring. Improved in the glass. 94+ p.

Here I’d like to mention that some people apparently have been slight disappointed by the 1990 Krug, and consider that it hasn’t developed as well as expected. This is sometimes heard about other 1990s as well. Judging from this example – this is the only time I’ve tried the 1990 Krug – I don’t really agree. I do consider the 1988 Krug as better, but I think that’s the general opinion. Some of the other at the tasting were slightly less impressed by the 1990 than me, as I remember it.

Krug 1995
48% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 17% Pinot Meunier.

Appearance: Bright yellow, slightly golden.
Nose: Smokey, discretely fruity with ripe yellow fruit, citrus and some winter apples, some honey.
Palate: Rather fruity, oranges, grapefruit, peach, high acidity, some spice, good concentration, some mineral. Good length, fruity and fresh aftertaste.
Summary: Rather mature, but can definitely take more cellaring. Definitely more smokey than those from 1985-1990. 94 p.

Krug 1996
42% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay, and 26% Pinot Meunier (according to R. Juhlin’s book).

Appearance: Light golden colour.
Nose: Ripe yellow fruit with red apple and a hint of red berries, some oranges, discrete fudge notes, some smoke, nuttiness with hazelnut and a hint of chocolate, mineral, a hint of flower. An impressive nose!
Palate: Enormous concentration, fruity attack, mixed citrus fruits, high acidity, spice, quite minerally mid-palate, very long grapefruity aftertaste with good concentration of fruit.
Summary: Accessible but still young, 95+ p.

This time it came across as younger and less developed than the 1996 at the Decanter Masterclass half a year before. I have the impression that this is the way it usually is, i.e., still rather young.

Krug 1998
45% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, and 19% Pinot Meunier. More Chardonnay than Pinot Noir is unusual for Krug.

Appearance: Light golden colour.
Nose: Rather smokey (but not as much as the 1995), ripe yellow fruit, discrete fudge notes, brioche, slightly flowery.
Palate: Good concentration, yellow fruit – citrus and some apple – high acidity, smoke, mineral, spice, good length and aftertaste with citrus.
Summary: Young, but somewhat accessible, 93+ p.

Something I noted was that several of the older vintage wines developed more nuttiness in the nose after some time in the glass.

I think our overall impression from the tasting is summed up well by the expression of Bergs Lars when he holds the bottle of the favourite vintage, 1988. 🙂

Since this tasting included wines going back longer than the Decanter tasting in November 2011 did, it showed even clearer how extremely long-lived Krug champagnes are! 1988 has definitely not peaked yet, and in my opinion the 1990 can also develop further. 1995 is more ready than those two, and it was the oldest “regular” Krug Vintage included in the Decanter tasting. Since the 1996 featured in that tasting happened to be more developed than it has been the two times I’ve tasted it this year, the Decanter tasting didn’t really give the full picture of how much time Krug can require to develoö. The comparison between the 1989 Collection (Decanter) and the regular 1989 here, indicates that the more expensive Collection version actually is better, and not unexpectedly somewhat younger.

The Swedish version of this post can be found here.

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4 Responses to Krug Vintage tasting in May 2012

  1. Pingback: Krug marathon featuring Krug Grande Cuvée and Krug Rosé | Tomas's wine blog

  2. Pingback: Visit to Krug with a premiere tasting of 2003 Krug | Tomas's wine blog

  3. Michael Tschuertz says:

    Hello, had a Vintage tasting myself yesterday. The 88 was also the clear winner. People asked if there was a change at Krug between 88 and 96. like in the tasting committee or how they make the vintage wine, maybe change in suppliers?

    • vintomas says:

      Offhand, I don’t really know if they changed winemaker in this period, but they did so in early 2000s. For Grande Cuvée it has been said that it became more “pure” after this change. However, the new label also had a bit or a bad reputation for a while, because some of the last batches of the old label (gold/red) happened to be 1995- and 1996-based.

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