It has been described as “the last of the great 2002s” to be released, and now, after a long wait, Krug Vintage 2002 (£196 per bottle) is finally here, available from February 1. Shaped by a year of near-perfect weather conditions, this blend of 40 per cent Pinot Noir, 39 per cent Chardonnays and 21 per cent Pinot Meunier is a ravishing, fruit-forward wine that fair leaps out of the glass to meet you. Inviting and aromatic, almost perfumed, on the nose at first, with scents of tropical fruit, jasmine, possibly a little star anise. On the palate crisp, sweet white apple and honeyed, crystallised fruit are rounded out by a luxuriant creaminess, a sprinkling of more woody spice notes: nutmeg, cinnamon and star anise.
“The weather was consistently warm and relatively dry – ideal conditions for maturation. From the very first tastings, we saw nature’s generosity in every parcel,” says cellar master Eric Lebel. “The wines were round, rich, robust and in perfect condition, dominated by fruit and particularly aromatic.” Indeed, the challenge, continues Lebel, “was to manage that burst of aromas, that abundance of fruit – and the Pinot Meunier was the arbiter, the referee in that.”
The decision to release the 2002 after the 2003 (a vintage Lebel described as “torturous”) came as a surprise to some, but the wine dictated it, said Lebel. “When we saw that the 2003, which was more vivacious and fresh in style, had reached maturity more quickly, it was an easy decision to present it sooner.”
At a preview of the 2002, the wine was presented alongside a series of other cuvées including a Krug Grand Cuvée, which gave some indication where this effusive wine might go with time, developing deeper crème-caramel notes and toasty complexity.
The food-matching potential of the 2002 was also clear, added Lebel: “With its freshness and citrus notes, Krug 2002 will pair beautifully with seafood. I can also imagine it partnering the firm-textured flesh of a sole meunière, accompanied by a dash of lemon juice – that sort of subtle accord would be a perfect match for the cuvée’s vivacity. Recipes like duck breast with its juice in reduction, roasted butternut squash and kumquat chutney or a lentil curry with orange zest could pair deliciously with the cuvée, and it would be superb with desserts that combine orange, lemon, cinnamon and ginger.”