100 Points Tyson Stelzer
When Olivier joined Krug in 1989, his father suggested that perhaps the challenge of his generation would be to find another clos with terroir worthy of another Krug single vineyard. Just two years later, a clos surrounded by a protective wall since 1766 was found in Ambonnay, Krug’s favourite village and largest source of pinot noir. The tiny site of just 0.68 hectares, just one-third the size of Clos du Mesnil, was purchased in 1994, and the first vintage was made in 1995. ‘We called it ABC as a codename to keep it an absolute secret until it was released in 2007,’ Olivier reveals. ‘We even kept it a secret from Moët for some years!’ The third release of Clos d’Ambonnay, so scarce that the bottle Olivier opened for me was the first he’d tasted in some months. This is the most expensive current-release champagne, with a four-digit price tag in any currency, making for one of the rarest and most memorable tastings of all. On my first encounter, Clos d’Ambonnay reacted like no other I have tasted besides Clos du Mesnil of the same vintage. Such is its complexity and enthralling persistence that it morphed, unravelled and revealed itself for minutes after I swallowed. It reached out graciously, then paused, contemplated, interrogated, before resolving to divulge its secrets. Only after I said my farewells to Olivier and made my way back through the courtyard and out to the street did its haunting persistence declare its true pedigree as one of the finest champagnes I had tasted in more than 50 visits across the region. At a full 15 years of age, it is still shockingly fresh and lively, with an elegant purity that flies in the face of one of Champagne’s most opulently voluminous creations. Its minerality is a revelation, deeply chalky, even spicy in texture. There is immense power here, with red fruits, plums, dried pear, blackberries, anise, truffles, licorice and exotic spice as if it were pinot noir uprooted directly from the grand crus of the Côte de Nuits itself. Clos d’Ambonnay is Champagne’s very own La Romanée.
Source: Tyson Stelzer.