Krug Champagne has released its 2004 vintage. Following 2002 and 2003, 2004 completes the second-ever trilogy of Krug vintages, following 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Growing conditions in 2004 were far more favourable than 2003, when an April frost wiped out 30-40% of the year’s potential harvest. In contrast, a crisp winter and long cold spring in 2004 were followed by grapes ripening in full sunshine by summer, with the fine weather continuing to harvest time.
'What I love about a late September harvest is that the sun gives more aroma and more finesse,' said house director, Olivier Krug, at the champagne’s launch in London. 'Because there is less heat than in August, you retain the freshness, and the acidity is not entirely consumed by the heat.'
The new vintage has been released after almost 13 years in the Krug cellars. The maison initially thought that 2004 would be released before 2002 (released last year) until it became clear that the 2004 was taking longer to open up.
'2004 was disgorged three years ago but it is only since January this year that it has started to reveal itself,' Olivier explained. 'It was slow to emerge, but the potential in this champagne is outstanding. There is a direct line in this wine to the next 30 years.'
Comparing it to the 2002, which Olivier described as more 'in your face', the 2004 has the elegance that is the hallmark of the champagne house. 'It reminds me of the '98. There are a lot of similarities. Both were big crops and both were dominated by Chardonnay.'
Krug’s oenologist, Julie Cavil, has given the 2004 the nickname of 'luminous freshness'. It is made from 39% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier. Ginger and candied citrus on the nose give way to richer, rounded plums. On the palate, there is luscious honey and brioche alongside an unmistakeable citrus freshness and clarity.
According to Krug cellar master, Eric Lebel, the 2004 would be a perfect match for fish. 'With its freshness, vibrancy and citrus notes, Krug 2004 will pair beautifully with sea urchin, salmon tartar or caviar. I can also imagine it perfectly well with delicate white fish in lemon sauce and olive oil, or sole meunière, as well as Thai cuisine with hints of ginger and lemongrass.'
Don’t hold your breath for the trilogy of vintages to become a quartet, however: Oliver Krug said that the Champagne house will not be releasing a 2005.
RRP £220-£250, Moet Hennessy UK, 020 7808 4400