1996 Krug Brut Champagne
Wine & Spirits
It's hard to imagine how a wine of this power can sustain perfect balance. What is now a more nonchalant intensity in the aroma was, in fact, too much to handle when we tasted this last year, as if the wine had no time for mere humans with their limited sense receptors. If you stop to taste ripe pear, ginger spice, apple blossom and butterscotch the wine leaves you lost in random flavor descriptors as it soars off into a vinous glow that lasts for minutes. This may well be the greatest vintage wine of Henri Krug's career (unless it is challenged by the 2002). It is impossible to predict how long this wine will thrive in bottle, though considering the current fine condition of the 1959 Krug, the first 50 years are a given.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Light gold. Remarkably perfumed nose projects an exotic bouquet of deep, leesy yellow fruit, minerals, honeycomb, smoked meat and flowers, with Asian spices building expanding in the glass. Almost painfully concentrated, offering a surreal parade of orchard and pit fruits, smoked meat, toasted brioche and marrow braced by intensely salty, stunningly incisive minerality. Imagine a Frankenstein's monster of Chablis Le Clos and Clos Ste. Hune-but one with perfect balance, of course-and you get an idea of what I found in my bottle. The energetic, stony character builds exponentially on the finish, which didn't seem to, well, finish. The best analogy I can come up with for the intensity, focus and clarity of this Champagne is liquefied barbed wire. Utterly hallucinatory and one of the most amazing wines I've ever been fortunate enough to drink. At the risk of sounding completely out of touch with reality, this is a value. 99(+?)
*#10 on the Top 100 Wines of 2007* A powerful, majestic Champagne. Deep and compelling, with aromas of whole-grain toast, coconut and dried citrus that draw you in. Lean and racy on the palate, with a creaminess that's yet to be integrated. A classic '96, with ripe, exotic aromas and a steely structure. Still a baby, with the long, resonant finish confirming its potential.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 1996 Krug Vintage remains one of the greatest Champagnes ever made. It is also far less expensive than either the Clos du Mesnil or Clos d’Ambonnay but equally as delicious. This bottle is stratospheric, with layers of explosive fruit that flow effortlessly to the multi-dimensional, captivating finish. It is another eternal Champagne from Krug. (AG)
The 1996 Vintage is magnificent. A towering, explosive Champagne, the 1996 delivers the house’s signature breadth in a full-bodied, structured Champagne with enough pure density and acidity to age well for decades. Warm nutty and spiced overtones add nuance on the finish. The 1996 is just beginning to enter the early part of its mature stage, where it is sure to remain for several decades. Krug's Vintage is one of the truly epic wines of the year. (Antonio Galloni)
I tasted the 1996 with Olivier Krug on May 31st when he came to visit the store and I was impressed in the extreme, as was every single member of the San Francisco staff lucky enough to be there when the bottle was open. Rich, toasty and decadent on the nose, the Champagne is concentrated and ultimately vivacious on the palate. It has it all, from hazelnuts and cream to citrus zip. This wine is expansive with a peacock's tail of flavors revealing itself after the wine has been swallowed and continuing on for as long as you care to pay attention. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne Buyer)