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About the Wine
Tasting Notes: At first sight, a bright and luminous golden colour redolent of ripe wheat. On the nose, aromas of gingerbread, candied orange peel and hints of hazelnut. On the palate, the elegant structure reveals a tremendous fullness and intensity enhanced by a very long finish with a final hint of citrus fruits.
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After the 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000 vintages, the 2002 Blanc de Noirs Brut Clos d’Ambonnay is the fifth edition of this splendid but rare and expensive Pinot Noir. Sourced in a tiny, walled 0.68-hectare (1.7-acre) plot on a deep stratum of chalk, the 2002 offers a deep, ripe and highly elegant nose with very fine cherry and red fruit aromas in the beautifully vinous Krug style. On the palate, the 2002 is terribly fresh and finessed, highly aromatic and very mineral, with great structure and a very, very long and tensioned finish. This is a taut and expressive yet highly finessed Clos d'Ambonnay that is shining brighter and becoming more and more complex the more time it has to breathe. Breathtaking maturity, creaminess and a brioche-flavored taste of dried and candied fruit characterizes this mouthfillingly round and intense Clos d’Ambonnay whose vinous charm and depth is teasingly attractive. Tasted in Reims, April 2018.
Krug's Olivier Krug and I didn't get together during my first four years at The Wine Advocate—we were both traveling a lot, and our paths didn't cross for years. They still didn't cross in April this year, but thanks to president Magareth Henriquez, I was welcomed by PR Manager Romain Cappelaere and the charming Julie Murez who guided me through the impressive cellars before she handed me over not to the expected cellar master Eric Lebel (who had to cancel at the last minute) but his young and jocular oenology department manager Julie Cavil, with whom I tasted the cuvées. Julie has been with Krug since 2006 and is Lebel's righthand man. After the welcome aperitif in the family house (the 162nd edition of Krug's Grande Cuvée), I tasted in this order: 2002 Clos du Mesnil, 2002 Clos d'Ambonnay, 2002 and 2004 Vintage Brut and the 158th edition of the Grande Cuvée, which is also based on the great 2002 vintage though it tries to overcome the vintage style. As readers know, Krug's utterly generous, golden-yellow colored Grande Cuvée, a composition of 120 to 200+ base wines, three grape varieties and 15 to 20+ vintages, is the first prestige cuvée re-created each year yet without letting the vintage play the first fiddle. Without guidance, I probably would have tasted the wines the other way around to end up with the very particular single-vintage, single-vineyard, single-variety "Anti-Krugs." Yet this is not the Krug philosophy. The Grande Cuvée is by far the most important wine of the house and the prestigious quintessence of the house style that is always more important than anything else, perhaps more important than even vintage, even single vineyard... The generous, complex, mature but fresh and certainly highly finessed and elegant Krug style is achieved by many steps, for example: a wide range of vineyards in top locations; an early harvest; the individual vinification of each pressing; alcoholic (and malolactic) fermentation and aging until February in old small oak barrels; the reserve wine library with 150 individual wines from about 15 different vintages; the long lees aging of five to eight years... However, starting the tasting with Krug's single-vineyard cuvées from the glorious 2002 vintage is not the worst entry into a tasting day. Krug's Grande Cuvée was released the first time in 1843, and starting with the 158th Edition, it displays the edition number on the front label, which helps to speak not just about a famous brand and great Champagne but also about a specific edition. That's why we have just started to give each edition its own entry in our database, because it previously was impossible to know which edition the reviewer was talking about. More transparency is also given by the ID code, a six-digit number located on the upper left hand side of the back label, whose first three digits indicate the period of disgorgement (for example 108 means: first quarter 2008). On Krug's website, consumers can now get insight into some technical data of each cuvée, which had been a secret for so many years. The ID code can also be used as a reference to collect bottles and enjoy them whenever it seems to be appropriate. ~99WA
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