Behind Krug’s ‘No-Vintage’ Decision

When speaking on the record, French vintners are wine-glass-half-full individuals, as opposed to wine-glass-half-empty people.

To many of them, every vintage is “the vintage of the century.” At least, that’s what they like to tell the wide-eyed wine press, particularly those who are new to the business and believe everything they’re told.

But nobody in France’s Champagne region is making that claim about the 2012 vintage. Yes, they’re still couching it in optimistic terms, but a story reported by Decanter speaks volumes about the vintage.

Decanter has been told that Champagne Krug—one of the region’s best known Champagne houses and, in my experience, a reliable barometer of vintage quality—will not bottle a 2012 vintage wine.

Instead, that wine will be set aside for future use in Krug’s signature Grande Cuvee—a wine made from multiple vintages.

The fact that a Champagne house would designate wine from a “non-vintage” year for its signature bottling may seem a bit “inconKrugous.”

But it actually makes sense, because the problem with the 2012 harvest wasn’t quality, but rather quantity. Yields were way down across the appellation, forcing Champagne houses that produce multiple bottlings to make some very tough decisions.

While we consider winemaking to be a craft and an art form, one can’t ignore the fact that it’s also a business. And one of the cardinal rules of any business is to “protect the brand.”

In the case of Champagne Krug, the non-vintage Grande Cuvee is “the brand.” And that’s why you won’t be seeing a 2012 vintage bottling from that house.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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