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House of Krug and the Quest for Perfection

2013 July 10

Krug lineup

Krug lineup


What is the greatest, most reliable producer in Champagne across the board, especially when money is no object? For me, without a doubt, it is the House of Krug.

Krug has long been the source of some of Champagne’s most complex, satisfying and pleasurable wines, as well as its most expensive and sought after.

As it happens, over the past several months, I have had the privilege not only to taste through Krug’s current releases with President and CEO Maggie Henriquez, but also to learn the secrets of the Grande Cuvée’s assemblage from cellar master Eric Lebel.

I also spent two days in St. Helena this past week celebrating the 60th birthday of a very generous friend who collects lots of wonderful wines. Of the 50-plus great wines we enjoyed in honor of that occasion–from numerous Champagnes to Burgundy grand crus to Napa cult wines–it was the Krugs, both vintage and multiple magnums of the Grande Cuvée, that most stood out as thoroughly delicious and delightful.

This shouldn’t be surprising given Krug’s history. Krug was established, in 1843, with the express aim of producing Champagne’s best wines. The fact that the company has somehow, through six generations and a change in ownership, continued to achieve at that extremely high level is, however, pretty astonishing.

To better understand this phenomenon, it is helpful both to briefly review the history of Krug’s founding, and to focus on the several ways in which Krug is anomalous amongst Champagne’s grand marques.

Krug’s History

The founder of Krug, Johann Joseph Krug, was born in Mainz, Germany, when that city was briefly under French rule during the Napoleonic era. The city became part of Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1816. Joseph, as he identified himself in his travel permit documents in 1824, became an accountant, but had a dream to work in the Champagne trade.

Joseph traveled to Paris in 1834, and through an introduction from Herr Daumer, the German agent for Champagne producer Jacquesson et Fils, met with Adolphe Jacquesson. Adolphe, who was soon to succeed his father as Jacquesson’s chairman, gave Joseph a job. Joseph moved up quickly, becoming responsible for finance and major sales and negotiations. He soon becoming a partner in Jacquesson, which had originally been founded in 1798.

Joseph was in regular touch with the firm’s agents and buyers, and became concerned about maintaining the quality of the Jacquesson product. He wrote Adolphe in 1838 that, “competition is frightening, and I anticipate we shall achieve nothing except by becoming outstanding for excellent wine and paying particular attention to bottling and an even foam.” Herr Daumer also reported complaints about the same time from customers that the Jacquesson wines were “too dull and sweet” and lacking in “foam.”

Joseph shared his ideas for winemaking improvements with Adolphe, but Adolphe deferred to his cellar master and chief winemaker, Monsieur Clauzet. Meanwhile, Joseph met Hippolyte de Vivès, a well regarded negociant and member of the family of the founder of Veuve Cliquot.

As it happens, de Vivès was looking for a partner to essentially take over and handle his business, and Joseph exhibited the determination and vision de Vivès was looking for. The two began collaborating in 1840, secretly testing new blends of Champagne. What was important for Joseph was to find a way to ensure the quality of his Champagne year after year, not subject to the vagaries of a particular harvest, by blending the best possible ingredients.

Joseph was by then married to the British born sister of Adolphe’s wife, so when he told her his intention to leave Jacquesson and strike out on his own, she implored him to reconsider for the sake of the family. She persuaded him for awhile, but ultimately, at age 43, he concluded a year of negotiations with de Vivès and founded a new firm, called Krug et Cie., based at de Vivès’s cellars in Reims.

The new venture was immediately successful selling its wines, based on wines de Vivès already had in cellar. Joseph’s first unique Krug et Cie blend was created in 1845. In 1848, Joseph wrote out his philosophy on creating great Champagne, year after year, in his Burgundy colored leather notebook. He wrote, “It is not possible to make a good wine except from good elements – wines from good growths. One may obtain a blend of good appearance with mean or mediocre elements and growths but these are exceptions: one can never rely on them and they put one’s whole method and reputation at risk. The greatest care must be taken:

  • In making the blend completely homogenous.
  • In fining, racking and bottling.
  • In principle, a good house ought to create only two Cuvées of the same composition.”

His idea for the first cuvée—long known as Krug’s Private Cuvée–was that it should be altered according to the year, using stocks from prior years as needed to complement and complete what was missing from that particular vintage. For the second cuvée, a vintage cuvée, he wanted that to reflect more the circumstances of the vintage.

To carry out his vision, Joseph would taste the wines from each individual parcel separately, blending them as necessary with selected wines from his reserves. As a result, Krug Cuvée No. 1 was a rounded, full, complex wine every year. The second cuvée, the vintage Champagne, was only created when the house decided to express the story of a particular year. For Krug, this is usually only about three years per decade—four at the very most.

Krug cellar master Eric Lebel, with an iPad photo of some of different wines considered for a Grand Cuvee

Krug cellar master Eric Lebel, with an iPad photo of some of the different wines considered for inclusion in a Grand Cuvée


Joseph inculcated his son Paul with these philosophies. Paul took over on his father’s death in 1861. Joseph’s notebooks were eventually locked up in a safe deposit box and not rediscovered until 2010, when new Krug CEO Maggie Henriquez was searching for the historical bases for Krug’s longstanding practices.

Paul, followed by his son, Joseph II, did an excellent job continuing Joseph I’s legacy of pursuing excellence, while also expanding markets. Joseph II’s wife Jeanne, a decorated hero of both World War I and II, also did an incredible job of carrying on production and making ageworthy blends from scarce grapes while her husband first served in and then became a prisoner of war during World War I. Joseph II co-managed the company with his son Paul II from 1941 to 1959.

Under Paul II’s leadership, following Joseph II’s death in 1959, the family entered into a distribution alliance with Rémy Martin. The capital injection from this partnership allowed Krug to begin to acquire its own well placed vineyards.

While other Champagne makers at this time started replacing the traditional 205 liter oak barrels with stainless steel tanks for fermenting the base wines, Krug experimented with the tanks but decided to stay with the traditional oak barrels, made from wood from the Argonne forest. They did, however, switch to specially designed, small, 40 hectoliter vats made by the Swedish firm Alfa Laval for storing the individual base wines after fermentation, abandoning the magnum style bottles that had, up until 1950, been used for storing reserve wines, and that potentially were subject to greater oxidation in that format. According to Eric Lebel, they now have 150 twin stainless steel tanks in the cellar.

Paul II, working with his father’s nephew Jean Seydoux, is generally credited with having established the Krug cuvées the way we know them today. Paul II’s oldest son Henri joined the management of Krug in 1962, ultimately becoming primary winemaker. His younger brother Rémi followed him into Krug leadership in 1965, focusing more on the marketing end of things.

Henri and Rémi redesigned the bottle for the house’s flagship, the private cuvée, and renamed it Grand Cuvée in 1979, to better identify it as the prestige cuveé it had always been in an era when more and more of the great houses were starting to produce prestige cuvées.

In 1979, Henri and Rémi also set aside the production of the four and a half acre plot they had purchased in the great home of Chardonnay in the Champagne region, Le Mesnil. This plot, known as Clos du Mesnil, a walled garden dating back to 1698, had been purchased by the family in 1971 as part of a parcel of 15 acres.

Over the years since then, wine from this plot had regularly stood out in the blindtastings conducted every year for the Grande Cuvée as having the potential to make a very complete wine. In 1986, the first vintage of a single vineyard bottling known as Krug Clos du Mesnil was released, based on the 1979 vintage. In the years when a Clos du Mesnil is released, it continues to be one of the most sought after and expensive wines produced in all of Champagne.

Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs bottling

Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs bottling


In 1976, the brothers identified a particularly good parcel of Pinot Noir from the village of Aÿ. It led them to experiment with putting together a rosé Champagne—then a style of Champagne that was growing sharply in popularity, and which Paul II had long resisted producing.

In 1983, they presented a glass of this 1976 rosé to their father. He tasted it and exclaimed, “We have a big problem. Someone is copying our style!” After they informed him they had made the wine, Paul II continued to taste it over a two week period before finally agreeing to release the first Krug rosé Champagne in 1983. What Paul II reportedly liked about it was that it was “a Krug before being a rosé.”

The Krugs’ fifth prestige cuvée bottling, made, like the vintage wines and the Clos du Mesnil, only in special years, is the single vineyard Pinot Noir-based Clos d’Ambonnay, first released in 2007. The wine released that year was the 1995 vintage wine from a special one and three-quarter acre vineyard in the family’s favorite village for Pinot Noir. Henri and Rémi had identified this vineyard in 1991 after a seven-year search, and ultimately purchased it in 1994.

Given the small amount of this wine that is made, which so far has only been produced from the 1995, 1996 and 1998 vintages, it is the rarest and priciest Krug of all. The 1998 is currently offered at only one U.S. retailer, for $1850.

Krug Today

In January 1999, Krug was acquired by the luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy for a reported 150 million euros. LVMH also owns grande marque Champagne houses Mercier, Moët & Chandon, Montaudon, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin.

In 2007, Henri stepped down from his day-to-day responsibilities at Krug and in 2009, his eldest son Olivier, who had been in the business since 1989, became house director. The tasting committee, which Olivier is a part of, has been led by chef de cave Eric Lebel since 1998. Henri, sadly, passed away in March this year.

LVMH named Venezuelan Margareth “Maggie” Henriquez as President & CEO of Krug in 2009. Maggie, a Harvard grad, had been president of the Venezuelan arm of Seagram’s before being named head of LVMH’s Argentine operations, Bodegas Chandon. She therefore became one of only a handful of women chief execs in Champagne—along with, most notably, Cecile Bonnefond at Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck—and Champagne’s first Latina chief executive.

I got to meet Maggie at a dinner at Quattro Restaurant in Palo Alto’s Four Seasons Hotel last December featuring fabulous food pairings with six Krug bottlings. I am indebted to K&L’s Champagne Gary Westby and Clyde Beffa, Jr., for including me in this memorable occasion.

Krug CEO & President Maggie Henriquez with K&L's Gary Westby at Quattro

Krug CEO & President Maggie Henriquez with K&L’s Gary Westby at Quattro


Maggie is a forceful and articulate champion for Krug, who has done much to lead Krug among the great Champagne houses into becoming more transparent about what goes into a particular bottle of the house’s Champagne. At her insistence, Krug releases since September 2011 now carry a six-digit code on the back of the bottle. You can type this number into a box on Krug’s website to learn the makeup of that particular bottling, including, in the case of the Grande Cuvée, the base vintage of the blend, the number of vintages used in the blend and the oldest such vintage. You can also learn when it was disgorged and bottled.

It used to be a real challenge to discern simply the bottling date from a few possible clues in the Grande Cuvée’s packaging. Swedish wine blogger Tomas wrote a very informative piece here summarizing the ways one could approximate the age of these bottlings from label colors and the codes sometimes found on the cork.

Maggie and her team, including Krug Master Sommelier and brand ambassador Ian Cauble and Business Development Manager Julien Pepin Lehalleur, had conducted an in-service training on Krug’s Champagnes for the Quattro staff that afternoon. Chef Marco Fossati had worked with the Krug team beforehand to come up with ideal pairings for each of Krug’s current releases.

Among other things, we enjoyed the powerful 2000 Clos du Mesnil with appetizers that included a lobster crudo, while a Paine Farm squab en roulade—inspired by the traditional Champagne region dish “pigeon en croute”—was a perfect partner to the 2000 Vintage Krug Brut. A rich risotto with white truffles was made even more wonderful by being paired with the Grande Cuvée bottling based on the 2003 vintage, and the Brut Rosé fully stood up to a tender, slightly gamy, Elysian Fields lamb loin.

Elysian Fields lamb course at Quattro

Elysian Fields lamb course at Quattro


We concluded with the current release of the Krug Brut Collection, the 1989. The Collection concept calls for holding back a small portion of the vintage wines for additional cellaring for about 20 years, until they enter a “second life” and are judged ready for release as mature vintage Champagnes. The gorgeous, honeyed 1989 was served with Explorateur cheese prepared in the form of a dessert with a brulée of orange blossom honey and tart orange blossom gelato. This was a very imaginative and quite satisfying ending to one of the greatest wine and food pairing events I’ve ever attended.

Assemblage of the Grande Cuvée

Maggie explained that, unlike other great Champagne producers, Krug makes only prestige cuvées. Instead of its multi-vintage Grande Cuvée being a secondary wine, created after the vintage wine is assembled, Krug has, from the beginning, turned the region’s usual practice on its head by devoting its attentions to the multi-vintage Cuvée first, as the house’s flagship.

Krug makes a total of close to 40,000 cases per year—a tiny output by major house standards, where the top three producers each make from 800,000 to 2.2 million cases annually. Of these nearly 40,000 cases, 80% of Krug’s production is the Grande Cuvée. Both the Grande Cuvée and Rosé Brut are unusual among prestige cuvées in being made in all four formats—splits, regular-sized bottles, magnums and double magnums.

The Grande Cuvée is the most affordable of Krug’s luxury wines, averaging $171 in the U.S., and available for as low as $125 at a few outlets. The Rosé averages $338, but can be found for as low as $270.

Maggie explained to me that Krug maintains two vintage bottlings on the market, so that consumers have a chance to compare vintage differences. The two vintage Krugs currently available are the 1998, averaging $264 in the U.S., and the 2000, selling for an average of $249. The current Collection offering, the 1989, can be obtained for $500 from Rare Wine Company. The 2000 Clos du Mesnil fetches an average of $809.

I learned even further from cellar master Eric Lebel–whom I met at the pop-up Krug hospitality house, created last month in a rented, architecturally interesting home in Woodside–exactly how the Grande Cuvée is assembled from all the various possible individual component wines of a particular vintage, as well as the 150 or so reserve wines always kept on hand.

Krug hospitality house in Woodside in June 2013

Krug hospitality house in Woodside in June 2013 (photo courtesy of Krug)


According to Eric, the Grande Cuvée is like an “aroma wheel or disk, where all the aromas you like in the Grande Cuvée you should be able to find again each year.” The vintage and single vineyard wines, by contrast, will always be “just a slice,” not the full disk.

They harvest usually beginning in mid-September, and ferment the wines from each plot separately in the 205 liter oak barrels, which average 35 years old. They inoculate with commercial yeasts. In November the wines are clarified and in December they separate the lees from the wine, which then go into the small stainless steel tanks. The wines undergo just two rackings, and they do not induce malolactic fermentation.

Since Krug vinifies a separate still wine from each of the different parcels it draws from, Krug invites all of the growers they work with to a tasting each March of the still wines made from every producer’s individual parcel, so the producers can learn what effects their decisions during the growing season had on the resulting wines from their parcels. According to Eric, 100% of their 100 or so growers attend this annual tasting event, which is unique in the world of Champagne.

Krug also owns about 35% of the vines from which they produce base wines. Eric estimates that only about 10% of the major houses own more than 10% of the vineyards from which they source grapes. And, unlike most producers, Krug does not buy based on the kilogram weight of the grapes, they contract, for “indeterminate lengths” of time, for a price based on a plot, or several plots.

Eric explained that the committee of six tasters over which he presides regularly tastes, starting in September and continuing into March of each year, the wines vinified from each of up to 250 or so parcels in a vintage, as well as the 150 or so reserve wines always kept on hand. Eric keeps a notebook with notes and descriptors on each of the parcels, identifying how each is progressing. They typically taste 15 wines each day, and then talk about them, ultimately rating them on a scale of one to 20 points. Most of those component wines, according to Eric, rate between 11 to 15 or 16 points. Very rarely do they rate a sample 18 or higher.

In 2012, which was a difficult harvest, with different levels of ripening on the same bunch of grapes, they ended up with 220 to 230 different possible base wines. The tasting committee narrowed those down to 120 to 130 for consideration for the Grande Cuvée, along with selected wines from the 150 in reserve.

The crucial week for the creation of the blend that is the culmination of all the tastings is called Semaine de la Laboratoire, or week of the laboratory. This begins on a Friday in April when Eric gives the team his three possible “propositions” of blends for the final version of the Grande Cuvée.

Krug U.S. Business Director Carl Heline left with Eric Lebel

Krug U.S. Business Director Carl Heline left with Eric Lebel


The following Monday, the three men and three women on the team start putting together each of the three creations. Actually there end up being six samples of each variety—Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier–keeping separate the proposed blends of reserve wines from the blends of wines from the current vintage. On Thursday, they taste the six components as well as the final blend, and Eric tastes too, to see what might be missing, and whether any adjustments are necessary.

Eric always has in mind one of his three propositions as being his likely final blend, and says that in the last several years, the committee has always ended up choosing the proposition that was his secret number one.

This April, they ended up with a blend of 198 wines from 12 different vintages—the oldest being a Pinot Noir from Verzenay from the 1996 vintage. The 2012 vintage wines made up 58% of this wine, with the reserves comprising 42%. Reserves usually amount to 40-50% of the Grande Cuvée blend. This wine will be aged for six years and then go through disgorgement and back into the cellar in bottle for at least another six months. They will taste it again before determining whether it’s ready for distribution.

In the Grande Cuvée based on the 2005 vintage that I tasted with Eric, it was comprised of a total of 134 wines from 12 different vintages, the oldest being 1990. This wine was disgorged in the first quarter of 2012 and held for an additional year in bottle before release.

Eric explained that he tests three different dosage levels each year. He continues to taste during disgorgement too, and may end up lowering the dosage at that point. Typically the dosage is from five to six grams per liter.

When it comes to assembling a vintage Krug, Eric explained that the tasting committee gets a sense in the course of assembling each year’s Grande Cuvée which wines are particularly characteristic of the latest vintage. The Grande Cuvée, however, gets created first.

If it is decided that a vintage wine is to be produced, they will then turn to blending the wines of the parcels the committee determined to be most characteristic of that vintage.

Eric explained that the vintage Krug is not about creating something that is the best, but about representing the vintage. In 2000, for example, the year was marked not only by very warm periods but also by devastating storms. Their 2000 vintage is an expression of the circumstances of that growing period, both the storms and the heat.

In the cellar, many of the wines of that vintage were quite ripe and mature, so they had to look for balancing freshness and acidity from the Chardonnays in that year, particularly Chardonnays from the village of Trépail, where they normally source Pinot Noir, and Villers-Marmery. Chardonnays from these two villages displayed marked ripe citrus flavors. It also included Pinot Meunier from Saint Gemme and Villevanard, wines that are typically present in Krug cuvées.

The final assemblage of the 2000 was from 35 component wines, with Chardonnay dominating slightly at 43%, followed by 42% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier. Another distinctive aspect of winemaking at Krug is the fairly high proportion of Pinot Meunier, which the Krug team believes adds roundness, fruitiness and confectionary aromas.

The Krug Rosé

The Krug Rosé


The Rosé Brut is usually comprised of only 25 to 30% reserve wines from five to six vintages—not up to 15 vintages like the Grande Cuvée. The Rosé also includes still red wine made from the same plot of Pinot Noir in Aÿ they have been using to source the red wine since 1998.

The popup Krug House in Woodside where I met Eric was the first hospitality house Krug has put together for Northern California. The first time they created one of these temporary hospitality houses, an effort to transport a sense of the essence of Maison Krug, was in June 2011 in Los Angeles, New York and Aspen. In 2012 they did only one, in New York City. They also plan one for NYC this September.

When I tasted with Eric, we drank from a glass he developed with Riedel specifically for the enjoyment of Krug. It’s called “Le Joseph,” after Krug’s founder.

Le Joseph glass made by Riedel

Le Joseph glass made by Riedel


I asked Eric what he had changed in the winemaking since Henri’s time. He responded, “nothing.” He did admit, however, that they had “tightened up on all the elements.” A dramatic difference is the appearance of the barrel aging room. At the prompting of Carl Heline, Krug’s U.S. Business Director, Eric showed me pictures of the barrel aging room back in 1998, when Eric was named Cellar Master, and now. It is now a much cleaner and tidier place. According to Eric, this cleanliness helps when they are topping up the barrels, among other things.

Conclusion

As they say at Krug, it isn’t one single thing that makes Krug’s wines so extraordinary—it is the cumulative effect of an agglomeration of careful choices and minute details. This is the great legacy of the house’s founder—Joseph Krug.

Joseph was driven to produce the best product possible in Champagne, a quest for perfection that has somehow been maintained and enhanced by thousands of choices made by his descendants over the years. The result are vinous masterpieces that are among the most reliable sources of pleasure and deep enjoyment not only from Champagne, but in the whole world of wine.

For my tasting notes on both current release and older Krugs sampled over the past several months, see below:

Krugs at December 7, 2012, dinner with Krug President & CEO Maggie Henriquez

Vintage Krugs - 1998 & 2000

Vintage Krugs – 1998 & 2000

  • NV Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée Brut – France, Champagne

    Light medium yellow color with tiny bubbles; elegant, autolytic, hazelnut, almonds nose; rich, elegant, balanced, layered, very detailed, creamy textured, yeasty, mineral, baked lemon, tart lemon, almond palate; long finish (disgorged 3rd quarter 2011, based on ’04; ID code on bottle is 311032) 96 points

  • 2000 Krug Champagne Clos du Mesnil – France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne

    Light golden yellow color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; appealing, lifted, honey, almond cream, marzipan, yeasty nose, that changes after 30 minutes in the glass to more of a mushroom, dried shitake nose; delicious, rich but balanced, creamy textured, very youthful, almond, mineral, vanilla, tart pear, ginger palate with refreshing acidity; could use 4-5 years; long finish 99 points

  • 1998 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne

    Light golden yellow color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; very appealing, autolytic, hazelnut, baked pear, light dried mushroom nose; delicious, focused, layered, tart lime, lemon, ginger, mineral palate with penetrating, medium acidity; could use 3 years and should live for decades; long finish 96+ points

  • 2000 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne

    Light golden yellow color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; very appealing, light white chocolate, tart pear, autolytic, pear cream nose; tasty, delicate, creamy textured, tart pear, rounded, yeasty palate; lovely now and should go for decades; long finish (ID code 210008; 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier) 98 points

  • NV Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée Brut – France, Champagne

    Light yellow color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; white chocolate, yeasty, poached pear, light white truffle nose; rich and balanced, creamy textured, elegant, light white chocolate, autolytic, tart pear, subtle truffle palate; long finish (branded V1021 on cork, indicating disgorgement in 2nd quarter of 2010; based on 2003, with 118 wines in the assemblage, from 10 different vintages, 1988-2003) 96+ points

  • NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé – France, Champagne

    Light pink orange color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; very appealing, tart raspberry, golden raspberry, yeasty, tangerine nose; delicious, rich but balanced, yeasty, vinous, tart tangerine, mineral, tart raspberry, tart cherry palate with medium acidity; a profound sparkling rose; long finish (ID # 311030, indicating it was disgorged in 3rd quarter of 2011, based on 2005 vintage) 97 points

  • 1989 Krug Champagne Brut Collection – France, Champagne

    Light medium apricot gold color with steady, tiny bubbles; very appealing, white chocolate, truffle honey, baked pear nose; delicious, mature, creamy textured, yeasty, white truffle, mushroom, tart poached pear, mineral, tart baked lemon palate with medium acidity; long finish (2nd bottle was much fresher than first bottle) 95+ points

Krug at Woodside Krug House with Eric Lebel on June 3, 2013

Krug hospitality house in Woodside June 2013 (photo courtesy of Krug)

Krug hospitality house in Woodside June 2013 (photo courtesy of Krug)

  • NV Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée Brut – France, Champagne

    Light medium yellow color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; very appealing, toffee, hazelnut, shelled almond, dried pear and apricot nose; delicious, poised but rich and luscious, almond, tart apple, tart pear, almond cream, mineral, tart lemon palate; long finish (ID#112008, indicating it was disgorged in the first quarter of 2012; a blend of 134 different wines, based on 12 different vintages, the oldest from 1990 and the youngest from 2005) 95+ points

  • 2000 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne

    Light lemon yellow color with few, steady, tiny bubbles; very appealing, bright, hazelnut, vanilla, almond, toffee, dates nose; creamy textured, very tart pear, almond, mineral, tart apple, tart citrus palate with crisp acidity; long finish (ID code 210008; 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier; blend of 35 wines from the 2000 vintage) 97+ points

  • NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé – France, Champagne

    Light pink orange or “rose gold” color with speedy, tiny bubbles; appealing, complex, subtle, almond, Jordan almond, orange melon, dates, hazelnut nose; creamy textured, rich, dates, almond, golden raspberry palate, a very elegant sparkling rosé; long finish 96 points

  • 1989 Krug Champagne Brut Collection – France, Champagne

    Light medium golden yellow color with abundant, steady, pinpoint bubbles; appealing, mature, hazelnut, dried fruits, light coffee, toffee, orange marmalade nose; tasty, mature, tart apple butter, orange marmalade, hazelnut, Brazil nut, hazelnut cream palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (disgorged in 2000 and held in Krug cellars in Reims until release as latest Collection offering) 95+ points

Krugs to Celebrate Conrad’s 60th July 4 & 5, 2013

Conrad Kenley with a few of the wines opened for his birthday in St. Helena

Conrad Kenley with a few of the wines opened for his birthday in St. Helena

  • 1988 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne

    Light golden yellow color with abundant, steady, tiny bubbles; entrancing, almond, light hazelnut, toffee nose; rich, creamy textured, thoroughly delicious, hazelnut, toffee, almond, brioche palate; long finish 99 points

  • 1995 Krug Champagne Brut – France, Champagne

    Light medium golden yellow color with steady, tiny bubbles; very appealing, mature, almond, roasted coconut, honeycomb nose; elegant, youthful, tart pear, lemon, almond, honeycomb, praline, mineral palate with medium acidity; long finish 97+ points

  • NV Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée Brut – France, Champagne

    From magnum – light lemon yellow color with abundant, fairly speedy tiny bubbles; wonderful, hazelnut, coriander, dried lemon, almond nose; delicious, hazelnut, tart lemon, preserved lemon, mineral palate; long finish (bottle had a code of 5104830 on the back, but not one of the official Krug IDs that have been issued with bottlings since Sept. 2011) 97+ points

3 Responses leave one →
  1. July 19, 2013

    Krug is sometimes considered a producer of only prestige cuvées , which is one of the tenets of the company’s marketing strategy. They justify this by pointing out the large number of high-rated crus and the choices of vintages, as well as the extended lees ageing regime of their standard wine, the Grande Cuvee as being similar, if not more than most other house’s Prestige Cuvees. Certainly the price of Krug wines is much higher than other Champagne, with even the Grande Cuvee being priced higher than other very prestigious and highly regarded Prestige Cuvees such as Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, Moet’s Dom Perignon, Veuve’s La Grande Dame, Bollinger’s RD etc.

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