Very rare vintage sparkling champagne Krug. Anecdotally, there is not a single bottle at the property. This is a non-vintage champagne which was developed ephemeral and limited before and after the war and then only for a few years between 1974 and 1978 before banning the use of words in Champagne sparkling wine.
We converged at CDG Terminal 1 in Paris level Arrivée porte 34 indoors. Richard Juhlin and our bus driver met and welcomed us there on the spot.
We started with the best and arrived in the world´s most famous vineyard, Krug Clos du Mesnil. The Krug´s treated us in an unforgettable way with a tasting of the latest vintage of the best champagne in the world.
Champagne tasted @ Clos du Mesnil
2000 Krug ‘Clos du Mesnil’ │100CH│ TASTINIG NOTE ‘Prerelease! Not at all a Clos du Mesnil stylistically in the early stages. Very charming and alluring tropical passion fruit, lollies and sugary soft tones, but the spring of 2012 it had been transformed into classical incomparable beauty from my favorite winery in the world. The elegance is amazing and brilliant. The buttery, slightly fudge scented Montrachet layer dances beautifully with stunning citrus acidity and a thousand tiny bright sounds from paradise.’ RJ 97(98)
After that we had a splendid lunch in the company of Olivier Krug himself followed by visit in the cellars.
RJ ON KRUG For me, Krug is more than a Champagne. It is a word that stands for artistry, tradition, craftsmanship, and moments of pure pleasure. The Krug family has used the same methods since the house was founded in 1843 by Johann-Joseph Krug from Mainz.
It is hardly likely that the Krug philosophy will be abandoned in the foreseeable future, since it has brought so much success. Put simply, that philosophy means that all the wines are fermented cru by cru in well-aged 205-liter barrels from the Argonne and central-east France. The wines are seldom filtered: they undergo just two rackings, by gravity, from cask to cask. Nor do they induce a malolactic fermentation, which is one of the reasons for Krug’s fantastic aging potential. None of the wines is disgorged before it is six years old, and the reserve wines are stored in stainless-steel tanks from the Swedish company Alfa Laval.
The firm’s least costly wine, Grande Cuvée, is made from 118 wines from ten different vintages. Naturally the raw materials are also of the very highest class. Twenty hectares in Aÿ, Ambonnay, Le Mesnil, and Trépail are owned by the house, but above all it is the network of prestigious contracts with some of the region’s best growers that answers for the quality, as the growers consider it an honor to supply Krug with grapes.
Johann-Joseph Krug, the founder, learned his Champagne craft at Jacquesson and, when he regarded himself as qualified after nine years there, he set off to Reims to start his own house. After Joseph’s death his son Paul took over and built the powerful Krug dynasty, followed as he was by Joseph Krug II in 1910 and Joseph’s nephew, Jean Seydoux, in 1924. It was he, together with Paul Krug II, who created the famous cuvées, and it was only in 1962 that the legendary Henri Krug took over.
Today the wines are made by Eric Lebel and Olivier Krug is the president. They work undisturbed and independently, despite the fact that the firm is owned by LVMH. All Krug’s wines are small masterworks, and although Grande Cuvée may be lighter and fresher than its predecessor, Private Cuvée, after a few extra years in the cellar it outshines the competitors’ vintage Champagnes.
CLOS du MESNIL Unfortunately I have to note a small question mark for the latest blend. Clos du Mesnil is a charmer that combines the best Blanc de Blancs while simultaneously distinguishing the wine with the house’s own distinct style. For me, Krug Clos du Mesnil is he best wine in the world! The Clos d´Ambonnay is a shockingly expensive rarity that has only just been launched. The most costly young champagne in the world is worth 3,000 euros per bottle which does not seem to frighten away Krug fans since all 3,000 bottles are already booked up. The wine itself is fantastic most especially since it is clearly a brother belonging to the same sibling group in the Krug family. This wine is much more the breath of Krug than of Ambonnay, just as the Clos du Mesnil is in its own niche. It feels as though all Krug wines receive a last tiny squirt of Krug perfume that distinguishes them from everything else wherever their origins. It matters not if others copy the methods with old, small oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation, aging for 12 years and other technicalities. It is still impossible for them to copy Krug.
CLOS d’AMBONNAY I think that the Clos d’Ambonnay is very reminiscent of the ordinary vintage and is astonishingly enough only marginally more full-bodied than the latter. A blanc de noirs with fantastic finesse far beyond all ungainliness. Its freshness and phenomenally long aftertaste are however the most striking things about this magnificent wine. The bouquet is richly creamy with a hint of hazelnuts and brioche along with papaya preserves and mango. The flavour balances between fairytale mellowness and a freshness that is similar to a 96. A new world-class wine has been born.
The vintage Krug is now in competition with the Clos wines, but if we go backward in time, this is without doubt the best champagne of them all. The 1996 is pure magic and the 82 Collection is super. If the opportunity arises, never miss the chance to drink a Krug! Vintage Krug competes with today’s Clos du Mesnil, but if we go backward in time, it is without doubt the best Champagne. The 1990 is pure magic. If the opportunity arises, never miss the chance to drink a Krug!
Champagnes tasted @ 5 rue Coquebert – Reims
2000 Krug ‘Millésime’│43PN 15PM 42CH│TASTINIG NOTE ‘Prerelease! A very young and delicate wine that will require long time before you ease the cork. In the current situation extremely mineral-driven and sea-splashed. Iodin, iodine, oyster shells, and small nice bredy tone in the fragrance. Crispy clean and beautiful balanced flavor. Impressive acidity and lvely elegance.’ RJ 95(96)
2003 Krug ‘Millésime’ │43PN 15PM 42CH│TASTING NOTE ‘A much fresher and more well made wine than Bollinger this year for example. A little dull, but noticeably large nose with dark brush strokes. When it opens up it feels like the vintage is a bit heavy & clumsy. Otherwise, the wine is again an unmistakable Krug with a structure and building as more than a little reminiscent of the heroic ’76.’ RJ 92(95)
Krug ‘Grande Cuvée I.D. 211021’ (03 base) │50PN 15PM 35PM│TASTING NOTE ‘Krug’s nonvintage wine costs about $150. They themselves would rather call it a “multi-vintage.” Strangely enough, this exceptional wine is one of the Champagnes I’ve drunk on the greatest number of occasions—more than 200 times, in fact. Almost every time, some new element is revealed. Because it’s been blended from ten different vintages and forty-seven different wines from twenty-five crus, variation is understandable. However, I have only missed spotting it on one occasion at a blind tasting, proving that its basic character is unique. The extremely tough acidity, together with the heavy, rich Krug aromas, are the foremost clues. Always check how straight the cork is in order to decipher when it was disgorged. When young, the acidity can be too hard. When middle aged and older, the Grand Cuvée has a fabulously complex nose and palate, dominated by nuts and honey. The aftertaste is always long and majestic, like a great symphony. The best bottles deserve even higher points than I’ve given here. Little bit less impressive lately. I thought it was just bad luck, but it seams like the wine has lost a bit of magic. I am crying!’ RJ 92(94)
Krug ‘Rosé’ (06 base) │55PN 20PM 25CH│TASTING NOTE ‘Krug Rosé is a relatively new invention of the Krug brothers. Their goal was to make a wine with proper style house where the color would be only indication that there had been a rosé. The color is very pale salmon pink, the scent is definitely Krug! Their unmistakable symphony of heavy complex aromas are here backed by a sprinkle of raspberries. The taste is extremely tight and acidic, but less generous than Grande Cuvée and definitely a storage wine. Some times a little too oaky. Last cuvée the least agreeable so far, unfortunately.’ RJ 92(95)
Krug ‘Grande Cuvée I.D. 312036’ (05 base) │50PN 15PM 35PM│RJ 92(94)
15 champagne lovers | 6 champagnes | 2 vintages | 90 glasses | 3 dishes
Leaving Krug with great memories and smiling faces in the bus… for check-in at the magnificent hotel in Reims L’Assiette Champenoise.
The House of Krug is celebrating the annual recreation of Krug Grande Cuvée by highlighting the parallels between conducting a symphony orchestra and composing Krug Grande Cuvée, the signature Champagne of the House, with a pop-up immersive exhibition, in the heart of London from the 7th to 11th of April. Tickets.
Eric Lebel, winemaker & Esa-Pekka Salonen, Principal Conductor