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|Krug Clos d'Ambonnay 1996
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Krug Clos d'Ambonnay 1996 ChampagneMore vintages: 1998, 2000Just five years after Joseph Krug founded the Champagne House in 1843, he documented his great vision for Krug. In his notebook, he revealed the principles of creating a champagne of great richness and yet great elegance, of selecting only the finest elements from the greatest terroirs, rejecting mediocre fruit and making both a non-vintage and a vintage cuvée (revolutionary at the time). Discovered by Olivier Krug just four years ago, the ideals in this notebook and Krug's resolute commitment to them, has secured it's position as the most luxurious and exclusive of all champagnes.
In 1991, just two years after Olivier joined Krug, a clos surrounded by a protective wall since 1766 was found in Ambonnay, Krug's favourite village and largest source of Pinot Noir. The tiny site of 0.68 hectares was purchased in 1994, and the first vintage was produced in 1995. Kept an absolute secret until its release in 2007, Olivier reveals, "We even kept it a secret from Moët for some years!" Extremely wide temperature variations as the grapes were coming to the end of the cycle in the vineyard, with warm, sunny days and very cold nights, resulted in ripened grapes with an extremely high freshness. This weather pattern in 1996 exalted the finesse of Krug Clos d'Ambonnay's Pinot Noir grapes.
Light gold colour with slight hints of violet, recalling its Pinot Noir origins. Sumptuous aromas of plum tart, brioche, hazelnuts and citrus fruits emerge. The palate is incredibly concentrated, lots of autumn fruits, an amazing freshness enhanced by very fine bubbles and a very long finish. This 1996 is still early in its development and will continue to age for many years before it nears its peak, probably in the early 2020’s.
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Krug Clos d'Ambonnay 1996 Champagne: same day delivery in London, next day UK mainland & free delivery on 6+ bottles. Krug Overview Vintage Overviews Grand & Premier Crus Explained
“This flight of 1996s provided plenty of context. The 1996 Clos d'Ambonnay is very similar to the Clos du Mesnil in this vintage. It has the same piercing purity and minerality with the heft of the Pinot still to fully emerge. Hints of menthol, spices and berries wrap around the eternal finish. Clos d'Ambonnay, from a single, walled-in parcel in the village of Ambonnay, is in many ways the red equivalent of Clos du Mesnil. ”
“Medium straw in color, the nose is profoundly scented of apple tart, lightly toasted hazelnuts, orange blossom, brioche, and granola with subtle nuances of crushed stones, musk and honeycomb. The palate is incredibly concentrated, crisp and taut with great richness matched by very fine bubbles and a very long, steely finish. There's definitely a lot more to come from this wine but it's looking very fine now.”
“Overt and expressive nose of toast, honey, red apple, earthy spiciness and finely integrated touch of oak. Some oxidative nuances too. Explosively fruity palate that is lifted by a remarkable acidic back bone. Great vivacity, intensity and near-eternal length. The palate takes the oak very well, merging it into the seamless complexity of super intense flavours.”
“This is an intensely aromatic champagne, with a spiced plum, citrus and vanilla bouquet leading into what at first seems an astonishingly fine (almost to the point of delicate) palate. On re-tasting, the explosive power on the back-palate and finish takes over, with a pyrotechnic display of the racy acidity of the ‘96 vintage. It is at the opposite end of the universe to the Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises, also 100 per cent pinot noir. If kept in a humidified 12ºC to 14ºC cellar, d’Ambonnay will live for 50 years, and will need not less than 20 to start to display all its secrets.”
Established in 1843 by Joseph Krug, having left Jacquart Champagne where he was working to set up his own House with a very unique style. Joseph wrote in his cherry personal notebook the philosophy for Krug Champagne which is followed still today. The two beliefs he wished to share were: craftsmanship without compromise and no hierarchy within his Champagnes. He believed that there should be only two cuvees, Cuvée number one (now known as Grande Cuvée) should be the fullest expression of Champagne each year and Cuvée number two should express the circumstances of an interesting vintage.
Today the sixth generation of the Krug family are still involved in all aspects of Krug Champagne. Independently owned by the Krug family for generations, Krug is now part of the luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moëeuml;t Hennessy (LVMH). Despite owning some 20 hectares of vineyards within Champagne, Krug is still a négociant producer of Champagne, with the grapes used in Krug coming from long-term contract growers who are proud to declare that the grapes are destined for the production of Krug.
Normally in Champagne, the non-vintage Cuvée of each Champagne is considered to be the 'entry level' Champagne of that house. However with Krug, this is not the case. Krug's Grande Cuvée Brut is the Champagne, more than any other, to which connoisseurs of Champagne aspire. With a reputation built not upon product nor one-off successes in comparative wine tastings, Champagne Krug has built possibly the most enviable reputation in all of Champagne, simply by turning out Champagne of incredibly high quality, year after year, for the last 170 years.
Krug's production is well under one per cent of the world's champagne - but it is often described as the Rolls-Royce of the industry. Its devotees, who have called themselves "Krugists", include Ernest Hemingway, John le Carré, Sir Alec Guinness, Naomi Campbell and the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who used to sneak in bottles whenever she was in hospital.
Krug range includes a tiny, 1.84 hectare vineyard in the village of Les Mesnil called Clos du Mesnil, protected from the harshness of spring frosts by being situated in the heart of the village surrounded by the houses helping to create a unique microclimate. This amazing vineyard creates the remarkable single vineyard Cuvée only produced in exceptional years. Although vines were first planted on this spot in 1698, it has only belonged to the Krug family since 1971. "We had no clue what a gem it would be," says Olivier. "It's a darling vineyard."
Whereas most Champagne houses put all of their best grapes in to making single vintage at Krug a sizeable proportion of the wine produced from best grapes from declarable vintages are held back as reserve wines, then blended into the "Krug Grande Cuvée" Brut. The exact composition of each year's release of this Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne varies depending on many factors but typically each release of this Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut is a blend of around 120 different wines from 10 different vintages. Each bottle of Krug has a unique ID code which can be scanned using the smart APP (available to download for free at the App store) to discover the unique blend and personality of each bottle.
Another defining factor in the flavour of Krug is the fact that all Champagnes are fermented in small 205 litre oak barrels. Krug opt to use well seasoned oak that imparts no specific oak flavour to their Champagne, as it allows for a better exchange with oxygen. Once initial fermentation is complete the Krug Champagnes are then left on their lees, the youngest of the wines in the blend being 6 years old with the oldest usually over 20 years old. This gives the wine richness, complexity, relating back to the original philosophy of Joseph Krug thus "producing the fullest expression of champagne every year".
» Krug's Clos du Mesnil Vineyard in the heart of Mesnil-sur-Oger
» Krug's Walled Clos du Mesnil Vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Côte de Blancs, Champagne
» Krug's Entrance Yard in Reims - Today & the1930's
» A Long View & part of Krug Champagne's many kilometers of Cellars under its home in Reims!