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At first sight, the beautiful light golden color promises radiant freshness. The nose begins with an expressive bouquet of ginger, candied citrus and quince, followed by richer notes evoking lemon meringue tart, plum and mirabelle. On the palate, a very balanced Champagne with light notes of brioche and honey giving way to an array of fresh citrus, including oranges, lemons and mandarins, enhanced by a very elegant finish.
Krug 2004 is a dialogue between shining Chardonnays (39%) and the backbone of Pinot Noir (37%) combined with the vivacity, tension and citrus notes of Meunier (24%).The elegance of Krug 2004 comes after over 12 years in the cellars gaining in harmony, expression and finesse. Krug 2004 is the last of the second trilogy in the history of the House, the first being 1988, 1989 and 1990 and the second 2002, 2003 and 2004. As with all Krug Champagnes, Krug 2004 will continue to gain with the passage of time.
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.
As the release of Krug Vintage 2004 marks three consecutive Krug vintages – the first such occurrence since the trilogy of 1988, 1989 and 1990 (interestingly 1989 was released before 1988, also the last occurrence of a non-consecutive release, prior to 2003 being released before 2002)
The 2004 season followed a hot year, 2003 saw heavy spring frosts that delayed the bud burst and the heat of the summer resulted in small crop that was moderate in quality, this heat was better for Chardonnay; by autumn growers saw many buds had set for the following year, the moderate winter of 2003 and long cool spring in 2004 saw an abundance of fruit set, later than normal. In late summer the grapes ripened perfectly in the radiant sunshine. The beautiful weather at harvest time from mid-September to early October made for a generous year following the challenging extremes and limited yields of 2003. There was a breadth of choice of grapes in 2004, offering more characterful yet mature grapes than in any previous harvest.
“The wines of the year held great promise,” says Krug Cellar Master Eric Lebel. “They were at once highly expressive, bright and undeniably elegant. The vivacity, tension and citrus notes of the Meuniers and the shining Chardonnays, combined with the backbone of Pinot Noir, gave rise to a very balanced year.”
A great example of how large yields do not necessarily mean poor quality in Champagne. As a reaction to the previous year's low yields, the vines produced one of the largest crops on record. The growing season proceeded without major difficulties but the bumper crop called for bud thinning. August brought about cooler weather and some rains, increasing the risk of rot. The massive crop, averaging 13,990 kg/ha, was picked from September 18th onwards. The quality was a pleasant surprise; vibrant wines with appropriate intensity, refined charm and refreshing lightness. This vintage impresses me more and more, and I feel tempted to give it the full five stars. It comes with a rare balance of freshness, lightness, yet fine aromatic intensity. Post-release, this vintage has proven to be slow to age, and elegant wines are likely to keep on ageing gracefully. Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer Cristal both excelled.