On a beautifully sunny day on the edge of the Scottish highlands, something extraordinary is about to happen. The crème de la crème of British wine merchants and wine writers has gathered in two-Michelin-star chef Andrew Fairlie’s Secret Garden to be part of an historic moment. The moment when a bottle of Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay 2000, the rarest of all Krug Champagnes, is released in the UK for the very first time. Not only that. It is opened and tasted alongside three other exceptional vintages of the same plot, 1995, 1996 and 1998, something that has never happened before, ever. The voices are hushed, the excitement tangible. Olivier Krug, the sixth generation of the prestigious Champagne house, speaks about this tiny plot of Pinot Noir grapes, measuring only 0.68 hectares, which has been surrounded by protective walls since 1766.
In the end, the glasses of sparkling grape juice speak for themselves. Surprisingly in such company, there was very little spitting going on. Instead, the wine experts expressed their admiration for the four vintages by praising their tight fruit quality, the rolling creamy mousse and the buttery Brazil nut flesh they detected in their glasses, among (many) other things. Having rested close to 15 years in the Krug Cellars, Clos d’Ambonnay 2000 has indeed developed astonishing grace and finesse. When drinking a glass, the experience is one of rich tasting notes of tarte tatin and crème patissière flavours with touches of caramel that evolve to a rounded fullness, followed by a slightly lemony finish.
The tasting was followed by an exclusive barbecue with Andrew Fairlie and his team in the Secret Garden, the place where 95% of the vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and fruits that he serves in his restaurant are grown. The Big Green Egg was deployed to cook garden vegetables, lightly smoke trout and grill Perthshire spring lamb to absolute, tender perfection. Every course was accompanied by Krug wines, such as Krug Grande Cuvée, Krug 2003 and 2000 as well as Krug Rosé, which lent itself perfectly as a pairing for the equally pink lamb.