“I’m rather excited about this, because in the immensely long time that I’ve been writing about wine – 40 years – I have yet to do a proper comparison of Champagne aged in bottle versus the same wine aged in magnum and I think this tasting on October 8th is going to be absolutely fascinating…”
Jancis Robinson MW’s opening words are a testament to the rarity of the occasion. As you may know, on 8th October 2015 at 67 Pall Mall, London’s new private members wine club, The Finest Bubble are running a truly unique event: a Bottle vs. Magnum & Jeroboam tasting, comparing prestige Champagnes from three fantastic vintages (1996, 1998 & 2002) aged in bottle, magnum and jeroboam.
We are extremely lucky to have the world’s leading wine critic, Jancis Robinson MW presenting the tasting and yesterday we met with Jancis to discuss the event and to conduct a “preview tasting” – comparing Krug 1998 from bottle with Krug 1998 from magnum (you can watch a full video of the tasting below). As we will be doing on Oct 8th, we tasted the Krug 1998 ‘blind’; the glasses were poured anonymously and marked deceptively with a square (□) and a triangle (△) to distinguish between them.
Nosing the Champagne’s cautiously, Jancis’ first reaction was typical of anyone fortunate enough to be drinking Krug in the afternoon; one of awe. Now at 17 years old, Krug 1998 has really benefited from this length of ageing. Commenting on the Champagne’s rich nose and depth of development, Jancis observed that the □ glass
Moving onto tasting the Champagnes, Jancis was again full of commendation; “Majestic…bone dry finish…very, very bracing with a slight edge of toastiness.” Once again, there was obviously a marked difference between the two glasses, with the △ glass appearing to have more evolution and to be less reserved on the pallet, as well as on the nose.
With this in mind, Jancis placed her bets, estimating that the △ glass contained Krug 1998 from bottle and the □ glass contained Krug 1998 from magnum.
However, when it came to the big reveal, we were all surprised to find that the □ glass in fact contained the Krug 1998 from bottle and the △ glass Krug 1998 from magnum.
Perhaps it was their difference in disgorgements dates that caused this effect (the bottle was disgorged in October 2007 and the magnum in Spring 2010). Perhaps the difference in ageing and taste was caused by oxygen effect, with the same volume of oxygen in each bottle affecting two very different volumes of Champagne. Or, perhaps we simply don’t have all the knowledge and
This was a really fascinating discovery; regardless of the outcome, experiencing firsthand the difference between Champagne aged in bottle and magnum is remarkable, and sometimes the weight of the difference can be surprising; quite often very marked, or as in the case here, fairly subtle. This preview tasting with Jancis left us all thirsty for more and we really cannot wait for Oct 8th, comparing the differences between not only the bottles and magnums, but the different brands as well. And what about the Krug 1998 from jeroboam?! This will be a truly unique occasion and a Champagne tasting not to be missed!
Perhaps Jancis sums it up best: “We’ve clearly got lots and lots to discover when we taste all these pairs to see what the effects of ageing in both bottle and magnum are, and to see the different influences of different disgorgement dates…what pleasure it’s going to be if these two wines are anything to judge by…we’ll be tasting nothing but the crème de la crème.”
We have very few tickets remaining for the event (less than 5 at the time of printing), and they can be purchased here.
You can also buy Krug 1998 bottles and magnums from the website here and discover their mesmerising differences from the comfort of your home.