The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Alfred Gratien and Krug

Posted on | August 4, 2015 | Written by Michael Adler | No Comments

Michael Adler 5.29.15Today I’m focusing on two very different Champagne houses, one quite large and one very small. Those familiar with Champagne know the house of Krug needs little introduction. Krug’s wines ooze luxury and class, and while it is a large house with a high production level, Krug doesn’t sacrifice one iota of quality for volume. In addition to their flagship Grande Cuvée, which is blended from several vintages, Krug also crafts single-vintage Champagnes in only the best years, and these wines are incredibly age-worthy. On the other end of the spectrum, Alfred Gratien, a small house that was founded in 1864, still abides by traditional methods that many of the larger houses have since abandoned. Led by fourth-generation cellar master Nicolas Jaeger, Gratien makes a rosé Champagne that offers near-unparalleled quality for the price. Two houses, one big and one small; two wines, one a vintage Brut and one a non-vintage rosé—let’s get this party started.

Alfred Gratien NV Rosé Brut $59.00

Beautiful pale salmon in color, the Brut Rosé NV from Alfred Gratien is an absolute pleasure. Every time I taste it, I’m impressed by its complexity of flavor and texture as well as its killer quality-to-price ratio. Juicy notes of red berries and sour cherries lead the charge, supported by aromas of rose petals and bread dough, with small, soft bubbles that gently tickle your tongue. A blend of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Pinot noir, Gratien’s Brut Rosé NV is bottled without malolactic fermentation, so it retains acidity and freshness as it evolves. While this wine is priced in the same category as entry-level Champagnes, it offers incredible value and consistently punches above its weight class.

Krug Champagne 2000 Vintage Brut $284.99

We often wax poetic about the joys of vintage Champagne, but in my opinion not enough is said about how well they can age. 2000 was a superb vintage in the region, and this ‘00 vintage Krug is in an ideal drinking window, yet it’ll continue to evolve for another 10-15 years. In this stage of its evolution, this Champagne offers complex aromas of baked apple and pear, brioche, toast, orange blossoms and a hint of soft spice. Textured and incredibly long with a soft, luxurious mousse, this wine is a perfect demonstration of just how good Champagne can be—and just how well it can age.

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