Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Krug's UK PR Patricia Parnell for the bottle of the 1996 that landed (gently) on my doorstep last week. What she didn't know was that yesterday was our wedding anniversary. So with the kids in bed, we popped the cork and settled down for the evening (no, we didn't go out for a meal as we'd done that the lunchtime before, at the Devonshire Arms in Bolton Abbey, and the evening before, at the Angel at Hetton - yum yum on both fronts, and both excel at wine).
Anyway, 1996 Krug. First up, it's a great vintage, chock full of flavour, alcohol and extract, and with a wealth of acidity to add further backbone. I have some magnums of 1996 Lanson somewhere in the cellar, and every time I think of which I've thought of opening one, I've remembered a comment by Tom Stevenson - 'Like gargling with razor blades at the moment, this is the most definitive and the best-value 1996 on the market.'
Young Krug - and 11 years old is still very young for this wine - is as backward as vintage Lanson, so I was anticipating something a little bracing. And yes, that bracing acidity runs through the 1996 like piano wire. But around it are curled so many different characters that emerged over the evening - nuts, brioche, pineapple, citrus, green apple, herbs, flowers, butter, even chocolate. It just kept giving more on every sniff - at one point, I even thought of decanting it. A stunning wine then, years, decades even, from its peak, but still a joy to savour. Around £145 per bottle.