Krug launch ‘opulent’ 2006 vintage Champagne

Krug has released an expression from the 2006 vintage – a Champagne described as ‘opulent’ by cellar master Eric Lebel at a launch event in London yesterday.

Speaking to press at the first UK showing of the latest vintage release from Krug, Lebel said that the growing season in Champagne during 2006 was “not an easy year in the vineyards”, commenting that the climate was “capricious”, due to extremes in summertime weather patterns.

Indeed, he said that 2006 had been “one of the hottest years in Champagne”, with as many as 23 days when temperatures had exceeded 30 degrees Celsius, more than three times the normal number above that threshold, which he said was just seven.

While such heat was combined with dry conditions during the growing season, unusually, August saw Champagne receive 15 days of intense rainfall, amounting to the equivalent of two months worth of precipitation in the region.

Following this was a return to dry, sunny conditions in Champagne, ensuring the grapes reached “good ripeness,” according to Lebel.

Summing up, the Krug cellar master said, “Even though it was a capricious year we had a very good harvest tending towards generosity and opulence – those being the two key words to describe the vintage.”

Commenting more generally on the climate in Champagne this century, Lebel said that he believed warming conditions in the region were proving beneficial for the style of fizz being produced today by Krug, as long as one can precisely control the harvest date.

“We are seeing that global warming is a positive thing for Champagne in particular because we are getting more sugar and a bit less acidity in the grapes,” he began.

However, he then stressed that the most important manner to achieve the correct balance between sugar, acids, and phenolic ripeness in the grapes in Champagne was to carefully monitor the evolution of the bunches in each vineyard, and then decide the harvest date according to the exact style the winemaker desires.

“It is up to Krug to adapt,” he stated, referring to rising temperatures in Champagne. “We are so specific in terms of the plot, we adapt the dates of harvest according to the climatic variation,” he added.

“80% of the supply of grapes for Krug is through contracts, and in the contract we identify the specific plots we will look after year after year,” he said.

“So, it is about going to vineyards and speaking to the owners and tasting the grapes and identifying the exact date for the harvest for each specific plot,” he recalled.

According to the press information released by Krug following the event, “Krug 2006 is a story of indulgence, roundness and elegance, nicknamed ‘Capricious Indulgence’ by the House.”

Continuing, Krug records, “To tell the story of 2006, a selection of wines from plots of Pinot Noir constitute nearly half of the blend (45%), with the majority coming from parcels in Montagne de Reims Nord, Sud and Les Riceys. Ripe and full-bodied Chardonnays (35%) add roundness and opulence while Meuniers (20%) from Leuvrigny and Sainte-Gemme bring tension and length.”

Krug is available from UK wine merchants with an RRP of £240.

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