Drinkers, collectors and merchants all over London spent the month of January waiting with baited breath for Krug 2002 to arrive on the market.
Champagne’s latest release went on sale on February 1st and has caused a storm of excitement, with chef de caves Eric Lebel dubbing it “a purebred stallion” of “assertive” and “muscular” quality.
A sparkling year for fine wine
Oliver Krug himself called the vintage “an ode to nature”, no doubt referring to the optimal growing conditions enjoyed by winemakers in 2002.
“It was a magnificent year and delivered everything you’d want in terms of sun and heat. There were no problems with hail or frost; the circumstances were close to perfect,” says Lebel.
“When making the blend, each individual wine seemed as if it was a blend as the vins clairs were so generous and expressive – the wines had everything, from exotic fruit and citrus fruit to candied fruit, liquorice and honey – everything was in abundance.
“The wines were round, rich, robust and in perfect condition, dominated by fruit. Succeeding with the 2002 vintage was a question of balance and trying to keep all the different elements under control,” he added.
Hot on the heels of Krug 2003
Based on the scorching heat of the following year’s growing season, Krug made the decision to release the 2003 earlier than the 2002.
“When we saw that the 2003 had reached maturity more quickly than 2002, it was an easy decision to present it sooner,” Lebel said.
“Making the 2003 vintage was more challenging than 2002. I enjoyed the task on an intellectual level but lost a few hairs in the process,” he added.
The high temperatures meant that the Chardonnay grapes were under-ripe, forcing the winemakers to adjust proportions in the classic blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier accordingly and reaching the upper limit of 25% Meunier permitted by the authorities.
Considering the success of Krug 2003 following its release, with stocks selling out in a number of hours, one can only imagine what the next few weeks will bring in terms of champagne sales.
Setting the scene for Champagne investments
And sure enough, there is already evidence of a boost in sales of other brands of Champagne following Krug’s release.
Bollinger R.D. 2002 was the top-traded wine by value on Liv-ex last week, accounting for 3.2% of total trade. Champagne as a whole took 9.4% of trade by value – a figure which can be compared to the average for 2015, 5.8%.
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