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The year 2003 was truly unique with particularly challenging circumstances, an eventful year for Champagne.
We had a dry winter and spring, an early bud break followed by two serious frosts which meant significant losses, especially of many Chardonnay grapes. Then August was a record-breaker with average temperatures of 28.5°C, ten degrees above the seasonal average! We had our first harvest on August 23rd, the earliest since 1822, but the extreme variations in ripeness throughout the plots meant we could not set harvest dates for each village, as is usually the case in the Champagne region. Thus, the harvest continued in waves until early October. A year of three such extremes was unheard of in living memory…
At the end of harvest we had small yields, healthy grapes, an expected over-ripeness but also an unexpected under-ripeness; the vines protected themselves from the intense heat by stopping their maturation. We discovered this because we respect the individual expression of every plot; nature’s beauty and strength at work in the fields. Nurturing this individuality meant we found surprisingly fresh, aromatic and balanced wines with very vivacious fruit.
Personally, I am delighted with the varied blend of Krug 2003 because it tells our story; it reflects the challenges we faced. It includes a higher quantity of wines from black grapes than usual and thus also a smaller amount of Chardonnay (29%); these were used discreetly because they gave plenty of aromatic richness. Expression and vivacity comes from the wines of the parcels of Meunier (25%) from villages such as Sainte Gemme, Villevenard and Courmas. The Pinot Noirs (46%) with their lovely structure and body - from the south and north-facing slopes of the Montagne de Reims - add balance and freshness.
After a decade gaining finesse in the cellars, Krug 2003 can be enjoyed now or for many more years to come. As with all Krug Champagnes, Krug 2003 has a very high ageing potential and will gain with time.
Eric Lebel / CHEF DE CAVES, KRUG
Unique to the House of Krug, every Krug Vintage is crafted to be different, to reveal the expression of a particular year. A year with character, a year with a special story to tell in a way that Krug alone can relate. To narrate this story, Krug has blended very expressive wines from a single year, enhanced by a stay of over ten years in the cellars. Krug Vintage is the story of a year as seen by Krug; there are as many stories as there are Krug Vintages.
Our expression of the year 2003, revealed by Krug as a story of vivacious radiance
The 2003 vintage was a year of many circumstances: dry winter and spring, very premature blooming, two serious frosts and a summer of scorching heat. With small yields, healthy grapes, extremely varied levels of maturity and over and under-ripeness, it was Krug's respect of the individual expression of every plot that produced surprisingly fresh, aromatic and balanced wines. Krug decided to create a vintage for this particular year and named it "Vivacité Solaire" (Vivacious Radiance).
Vineyards: 100% Grand & Premier Cru | Pinot Noir: Montagne de Reims | Chardonnay: Côte des Blancs | Pinot Meunier: Courmas, Saint Gemme, Villevenard
Grape Varieties: 46% Pinot Noir, 29% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier
Ageing: 9 years on the lees
Disgorged: Winter 2012/2013
Dosage: 6 g/l
A challenging vintage for Champagne in the face of an unprecedented heatwave during the summer months. The wines are characterised by the year's unusual circumstances. Large-scale frosts destroyed most of the projected yield and they were followed by hail and an extremely hot summer. Harvest was kick-started early on August 21st and yields remained minuscule at 8,100 kg/ha. Atypically round, ripe, sun-kissed wines that miss freshness and backbone. The total acidity level was notably low, at 5.8 g/l. Only the very best performers were able to avoid heaviness and overripe aromatics. This vintage was not largely declared but some famous names, Krug and Dom Pérignon at the fore, chose to experiment with it. Both produced excellent 2003s and Dom Pérignon's chef de cave at the time named the vintage as one of the creations he is most proud of. Some special cuvées surfaced, such as 2003 by Bollinger, as the house found the year did not stylistically fit into the La Grande Année range. Palmer & Co also took a curious route and made its 2003 only in magnum, releasing it much later than usual as cuvée Grands Terroirs. The ageing capacity of 2003 is much debated. Dom Pérignon's Richard Geoffroy had great confidence in his 2003 and he actually regretted releasing it too early. The jury is still out, but personally I am inclined to drink mine sooner rather than later, as the advancement post-disgorgement has in most cases been rather rapid and the wines miss the acidic backbone necessary for retaining freshness.