It’s Friday, and that can only mean one thing. Champagne. This bottle of the 1989 Krug Collection is one of the very best I have had. The 1989 Collection is variable in quality, and quite a few examples have been on the mature side. Not this bottle. Its flavors are bright, focused and fresh for a Champagne of this age, with the classic super-fine Krug texture that invites a second glass and then a third as we look over the menu.
Krug’s 1989 Brut Krug Collection represents their most recent in a long-running series of late-releases that feature a vintage they have decided is especially expressive after entering what they refer to as its “second life.” In theory, if you have ideal cellar conditions and bought Krug’s initial disgorgement of the 1989 vintage when it came on the market around a decade ago, then you have essentially the same wine today, though I have never been lucky enough to make the relevant direct comparison. Given the relative infrequency with which a vintage is “declared” by Krug, their “Collection” bottlings represent the remnants of an already elite band. But this 1989 represents the first re-release from the only series of three consecutive vintage bottlings – 1988-1990 – in Krug’s history. The mingling of saline, nutty, and caramelized notes in the nose – adumbrating this wine’s entire performance – is gorgeous. Butter-toasted hazelnuts, dried wild mushrooms, kelp, and cocoa mingle in a silken, mouthwateringly saline and savory matrix reminiscent of oyster liquor laced with fresh lemon juice (because, there is still a youthfully citric store of energy here). This finishes with correspondingly pronounced umami and with tangy vibrancy of citrus and salt. After a day open, the nutty elements become more piquant and walnut-like, but the smoky hints of oxidation remain balanced by citric and mineral elements and positively integrated into a mysteriously diverse show. The palate becomes plusher (perhaps in part due to diminishing mousse) and creamy in an almost whipped-cream fashion, yet the long finish continues to offer uncanny refreshment. Certainly this can be safely held for at least a few more years and perhaps in an ideal cellar will “plateau” (or continue to).