1996 Krug Clos Du Mesnil
Wine Details for 1996 Krug Clos Du Mesnil
|Type of Wine||
: Nothing like a refreshing, vivacious glass of fine Champagne during a hot summer afternoon. Typically combining Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, each Champagne house has a distinct style. Whether you want to sample a single varietal (such as the 100% Chardonnay blanc de blancs) or a tasteful blend, no region can compete with Champagne.
: The Champagne blend is one of the most distinctive styles of winemaking in the world. This illustrious blend of grape varietals hails from northeastern France, in the winegrowing region of Champagne. The magical combination of varietals perfectly marry to the terroir, climate and topography of the region, creating a sexy, seductive and fascinating sparkling wine that is synonymous with success and celebration.
The primary grape varietals cultivated in Champagne and most used for blending are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In fact, there are seven permitted grape varieties in the Champagne AOC (controlled designation of origin) though the other four are so rarely used they are often forgotten (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc Petit Meslier and Arbane). The three grape varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier account for about 99% of the region’s plantings. Chardonnay is planted to 10,117 hectares, Pinot Meunier is planted to 10,521 hectares while the most widely planted, Pinot Noir, covers around 12,950 hectares.
Chardonnay brings crisp and refreshing nuances to the effervescent wine blend. When used as a single-variety offering, the wines are named Blanc de Blancs, and account for only around 3% of all Champagne bottlings. Pinot Noir is the staple in Champagne blends and interestingly, is planted in more hectares in Champagne than its ancestral home of Burgundy. It is one of just two allowable red grapes in the region. Pinot Noir brings body and mouth-filling structural texture to the blend. When used as a single-variety its creation is called Blanc de Noirs (white wine made from black-skinned grapes). Pinot Meunier, the other red grape permitted in Champagne brings red berry flavors and balances the overall blend. Though historically a blending grape, 100% Pinot Meunier Champagne wines are becoming increasingly popular.
Champagne has privileged environmental influences that give the wines produced here specific, unique characteristics that are often imitated but never duplicated. Its northern location, rugged climate, distinctive soil type and hillside vineyards makes Champagne terroir the only one of its kind. The first distinguishing factor is that Champagne enjoys a dual climate influenced by oceanic currents and continental winds. The oceanic currents help to keep the temperatures cooler, while the continental influence brings precipitation which are both essential for quality grape production.
Terroir is the second major component to the success of the grapes of Champagne to grow and prosper. It is composed mostly limestone (75%) chalk and marl with a limestone subsoil. The fissured medium provides good drainage, promoting the health and development of the vines. Each soil type is important to the stages of development. The chalk in Champagne consists of granules of calcite formed from fragile marine shells and micro-organisms. This highly porous compound assists in water movement into the root system. The limestone, being less porous allows the right amount of water to be collected while restricting erosion. Marl is just as important and contains highly rich minerals which allows the growth of berries with intense flavors.
The third distinguishing factor is the gift of Champagne’s natural landscape where the rugged and hilly terrain greatly assists in water drainage and root growth. The average gradient is around 12% with some of the slopes reaching grades as steep as 59%. The higher elevations receive greater sunlight than lower elevations at the same latitude. This feature alone creates diverse micro-climates within the region allowing grapes grown in different locations and at different Champagne houses to have unique characteristics.
The varietals of Champagne, the terroir of the region along with the oceanic and continental climatic influences come together to create one of earth’s most breathtaking wine styles. From the many styles and offerings, Brut (dry, raw or unrefined) to rose, vintage to non-vintage, Champagne blends offer to the world a euphoric, effervescent experience that cannot be matched.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: The sharp, biting acidity, cutting through the richness; the explosive force that shatters the bubbles as they rise to the surface; the intense flavor and compelling, lively mouthfeel; these are all hallmarks of a good Champagne. Most wines are made from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, but there are pure-Chardonnay variants and ones that blend only Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. As a result, most wines come with a feeling of familiarity, if not nostalgia. Each Champagne house has its own unique style, so different bottles of Champagne may not resemble each other outside of the core varietal strengths. The soil composition of the subregion is characterized by belemnite and chalk, which lets it absorb heat during the daytime and release it at night. This terroir helps create the feeling of airy, playful lightness of fine sparkling wine.
These wines were originally marketed towards royalty, and you can feel a hint of that elusive blue-blood elegance and confidence while drinking one. A good Champagne carries you away like a hurricane carries small debris, and you can feel the powerful life force in each bubble even. The characteristic Champagne "pop" has become a staple at parties and celebrations around the globe - when you hear it, good times are right around the corner.
: “One cannot obtain a good wine without using good elements and good terroir” – Joseph Krug, founder of Krug Champagne. He was insistent on this vital combination stating that it was possible to obtain seemingly good cuvees through the use of unremarkable elements and wines but should not be relied upon. In other words, it was a risk that could potentially allow the process to fail and their reputation ruined. Krug’s passion for winemaking was remarkable, taking the traditional Champagne blending beyond the bounds of what was customary and creating an unmatched quality bottling. This was the inception of the very first luxury Champagne.
Krug has a rich and successful history in Reims dating back to 1843. The house enjoyed early success due to Joseph Krug’s passion and determination to produce the highest quality wines, rivaling the already existing powerhouses at the time. Though Krug was sold in 1999 to LVMH, it is still comfortably in the hands of the seventh generation family member, Olivier Krug, who is insistent on maintaining the house’s reputation and consistent style.
Each year the dream of Joseph Krug is recreated through their many cuvees including the Grand Cuvee, Rose, Clos Du Mesnil, Clos D’Ambonnay, and the Collection series, however the Grand Cru is the staple to this continued vision of excellence, in memory of its founder. Each cru is vinified separately with no malolactic fermentation with two rackings done solely by gravity. The wines are then placed in stainless steel tanks.
All three Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are utilized, though their mainstay of Grand Cuvee and their flagship Clos Du Mesnil consists entirely of Chardonnay. Production is incredible considering the minute plots of each; with the Grand Cuvee having an annual production rate of 384,000 bottles, while the Clos Du Mesnil comes in at 504,000 bottles respectively.
Krug wines offer exceptional beauty and poise which tell the story of the plot’s grapes and rich history. One lucky enough to obtain a bottle or two may have the distinct challenge of whether to uncork the bottle or to cellar. Either way they are partaking in a piece of history dating back to 1843 of exceptional vision, unrivaled quality and success.
Antonio Galloni | 100 AG
As if there were any doubts, Krug’s 1996 Brut Blanc de Blancs Clos du Mesnil reaffirms its position as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Champagne of this historic harvest. I have had the privilege of drinking the 1996 Clos du Mesnil a few times over the last year and it has always been breathtaking, as it is again today. The wine sparkles on the palate with a brilliant, pointillist expression of fruit, showing surreal detail, depth and polish. Like a finely cut gem, each impression reveals a different and unique shade of nuance. The 1996 Clos du Mesnil coats every inch of the palate with endless layers of perfumed fruit and a chiseled, minerally finish that lasts forever. The oak seems a touch pronounced in this particular bottle, something I have not encountered previously with this wine. If forced to drink only one Champagne (assuming budget was not an issue) I might very well choose Krug’s 1996 Clos du Mesnil. This profound Champagne is as good as it gets. No disgorgement date provided. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2036.
My tasting this year with Olivier Krug was fascinating as I had the rare opportunity to taste all of the house’s 1996’s side by side, a comparison that yielded very interesting results.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 99 RP
The 1996 Clos du Mesnil, not surprisingly, is a legend in the making. The nose is deep, pure and exotically beautiful, offering up a superbly complex mélange of fresh apricot, peach, lemon zest, great minerality, acacia blossoms and brioche, On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully minerally in profile, with a great core of fruit, stunning acidity, very refined mousse, and absolutely stunning length and grip on the still youthful, but quite wide open finish. Clos du Mesnil can often be quite defined by its glorious and exotic fruit component, but the 1996 couples the ripe fruit of the vintage with an absolutely profound base of mineral soil inflection. One of the greatest young vintages of Clos du Mesnil I have ever had the pleasure to taste. (Drink between 2011-2035)
John Gilman | 98 JG
An extraordinary champagne. Profoundly intense and complex with a fabulously opulent texture and nougat infused depth. A dazzling effort which still needs several more years to approach its peak.
Decanter | 97 DEC
This is about as intense as Champagne gets, an exotic mesh of ripe fruit, oak and earth impressions. Approach it now with caution, allowing the wine plenty of air to subdue some of its authoritative, powerful chardonnay rip-as if chewing on stones at a chalk lick. The immensity and immaturity of the structure compresses a range of complex fruit flavor, from cool apple and Asian pear to more tropical notes (fresh coconut milk, grilled pineapple). This is not recommended for current drinking, but rather for long-term cellaring, which it will substantially reward. This will be long remembered and sought after as one of the classic Krug vintages of the 20th century.
Wine & Spirits | 96 W&S
Offers fine depth and complexity, showing aromas of coffee, mushroom and candied citrus. This is laserlike on the palate, focusing its citrus, honey and mineral flavors and corralling them to a long finish. Still a baby, with great length and potential. Best from 2010 through 2030. 817 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 96 WS