Krug's superb 2006 Brut, which will be released this year, numbers among the vintage's high points, unfurling in the glass with a complex and expressive bouquet of tarte tatin, warm biscuits, ginger, honeycomb, dried white flowers, smoke and toasted nuts. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, broad and textural, with a fleshy attack that reflects the warm vintage but segues into a beautifully vibrant palate that's deep and surprisingly reserved, displaying superb definition, delicately chalky structure and a long, lively finish. While this is a powerful vintage Krug, it's also beautifully balanced and will give immense pleasure for decades.
A flying April visit to Reims enabled me to taste this exciting selection of recent and forthcoming releases from Krug, including the latest rendition of their iconic Grande Cuvée—a bottling that's now enumerated to offer wine lovers a clearer idea of what they're buying and when they might want to drink it—and the 2006 vintage. As readers will know, the concept behind Grande Cuvée is to draw on the maison's unrivaled library of reserve wines to complement the base yielded by each successive vintage, supplementing any deficiencies and tempering any excesses. Thus, a rich vintage such as 2006 will be blended with brighter, livelier reserve wines, whereas a leaner, tangier year will be enriched with reserve wines from broader, fleshier years. Of course, that's a simplification, and the devil is in the detail: each "Édition" of Grande Cuvée typically contains considerably more than 100 different wines and is the result of six months of intensive tasting by the Krug team. The aim, as Cellar Master Eric Lebel describes it, is not to produce the same wine each year, but to produce the best possible wine each year, so every rendition of Grande Cuvée is different—differences that are now highlighted by Krug's laudable decision to enumerate each successive release. A lengthier visit shortly after this issue goes to press will delve deeper into the secrets of the maison that many—the present writer included—would denominate as Champagne's greatest house, but for now, all the wines reviewed here evidently come warmly recommended, and they are striking testimony to Krug's remarkable consistency.