For RJ, Krug is more than a Champagne. It is a word that stands for artistry, tradition, craftsmanship, and moments of pure pleasure. Björnstierne had the opportunity to set up a Krug tasting @ The Champagne Bar by Richard Juhlin in Stockholm last Thursday.
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.
‘3 x Grande Cuvée’
Krug ‘Grande Cuvée │’I.D. 312 036’ (05 base) │44PN 19PM 37CH│TASTING NOTE ‘134 wines from 12 different years. Oldest wine from 1990, youngest wine 2005, received it’s cork summer’12. 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! A vintage base that doesn’t fit the Krug style well. To much baby-fat without the right structure at this point. Hopefully the wine will develop as we want over time.’ RJ 88(92)
TASTING NOTE ERIC LEBEL ’This bottle is an extraordinary blend of 134 wines from 12 different vintages, the oldest from 1990 and the youngest from 2005. Every glass of this bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée is the fruit of more than 21 years of patience and crafting.
Reserve wines this year bring brightness, richness and depth to the year’s blend, mainly through very beautiful old chardonnays and multiple expressions of Meunier from different years; the wines of the year were a well-balanced proposition without any highlighted character.
Blending many vintages gives Krug Grande Cuvée its unique fullness of flavours and aromas, incredible generosity and an absolute elegance that are impossible to express with the wines of just a single year. Krug Grande Cuvée is re-created each year beyond the notion of vintage. Every year, we recreate from scratch the multitude of facets that do not compete on the palate, but instead form a perfect harmony, the main characteristic of Krug Grande Cuvée. Its myriad aromas make Krug Grande Cuvée the richest of them all. Its generosity means that everyone can find something in it that stirs the emotions.’
Krug ‘Grande Cuvée │’I.D. 212 029’ (04 base) │44PN 23PM 33CH│TASTING NOTE ‘121 wines from 12 different years. Oldest wine from 1990, youngest wine 2004, received it’s cork summer’12. RJ has not tasted this version yet. I like this version based on a beautiful Chardonnay-year. It gives the wine a refined elegance that I really appreciate.’ BJ 93(95)
ERIC LEBEL’S TASTING NOTE ‘This bottle left the Krug cellars to receive its cork in summer 2012. This is the last step after more than 7 years of ageing in the cellars to acquire finesse and elegance. This bottle is an extraordinary blend of 121 wines from 12 different vintages, the oldest from 1990 and the youngest from 2004. Every glass of this bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée is the fruit of more than 20 years of patience and crafting. Reserve wines this year lend harmony, completing the blend without modifying the predominant characteristics of the year. They amplify the fullness that characterises Krug Grande Cuvée.’
Krug ‘Grande Cuvée │’I.D. 211 021’ (03 base) │51PN 19PM 30CH│TASTING NOTE ‘121 wines from 12 different years. Oldest wine from 1988, youngest wine 2003, received it’s cork spring’11. Wonderful to finally follow any single cuvée hiding behind the label through the new app. This heavy 2003 is lifted fantasticly by a high proportion of healthy reserve wines and has an elegance and complexity that is actually greater than the vintage wine from this year. Incredibly stylish!’ RJ 92(94)
TASTING NOTE ERIC LEBEL ’This bottle is an extraordinary blend of 121 wines from 12 different vintages, the oldest from 1988 and the youngest from 2003. Every glass of this bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée is the fruit of more than 22 years of patience and crafting. Reserve wines this year, particularly ones from 1996, as well as other truly great white wines from more recent years give spark and vitality to this year’s blend.
2003 Krug ‘Millésime’ │’I.D. 313 044′ │46PN 25PM 29CH│TASTING NOTE ‘9 years in the cellars before it was released, received it’s cork summer’13. 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(94)
TASTING NOTE ERIC LEBEL ’ At the House of Krug, each vintage is created to reveal the expression of a year’s unique character; a year with a special story to tell, captured uniquely by Krug. There are as many stories as there are Krug Vintages. 2003 was indisputably, a year like none other in Champagne with premature blooming, serious frosts and extreme heat. Called Vivacious Radiance, Krug 2003 is an adventure of sun-drenched luminosity, unexpected freshness, delicious intensity and astonishing finesse far from preconceived ideas about a year of extreme heat.’
The creation of Vivacious Radiance, the story of 2003 according to Eric Lebel, Krug’s Chef De Caves.
‘The year 2003 was truly unique with particularly challenging circumstances, an eventful year for Champagne. We had a dry winter and spring, an early bud break followed by two serious frosts which meant significant losses, especially of many Chardonnay grapes. Then August was a record-breaker with average temperatures of 28.5°C, ten degrees above the seasonal average! We had our first harvest on August 23rd, the earliest since 1822, but the extreme variations in ripeness throughout the plots meant we could not set harvest dates for each village, as is usually the case in the Champagne region. Thus, the harvest continued in waves until early October. A year of three such extremes was unheard of in living memory…’
‘At the end of harvest we had small yields, healthy grapes, an expected over-ripeness but also an unexpected under-ripeness; the vines protected themselves from the intense heat by stopping their maturation. We discovered this because we respect the individual expression of every plot; nature’s beauty and strength at work in the fields. Nurturing this individuality meant we found surprisingly fresh, aromatic and balanced wines with very vivacious fruit.’
‘Personally, I am delighted with the varied blend of Krug 2003 because it tells our story; it reflects the challenges we faced. It includes a higher quantity of wines from black grapes than usual and thus also a smaller amount of Chardonnay (29%); these were used discreetly because they gave plenty of aromatic richness. Expression and vivacity comes from the wines of the parcels of Meunier (25%) from villages such as Sainte Gemme, Villevenard and Courmas. The Pinot Noirs (46%) with their lovely structure and body – from the south and north-facing slopes of the Montagne de Reims – add balance and freshness.’
‘After a decade gaining finesse in the cellars, Krug 2003 can be enjoyed now or for many more years to come. As with all Krug Champagnes, Krug 2003 has a very high ageing potential and will gain with time.’
2000 Krug ‘Millésime’│’I.D. 113 014’ │42PN 15PM 43CH│TASTINIG NOTE ’12 years in the cellars before it was released, received it’s cork winter ’12/’13. 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)
TASTING NOTE ERIC LEBEL ’Krug 2000 is rich, precise, complex and indulgent. The House of Krug wanted to create a vintage for the last year of the millennium, based on the unusual and climatically chaotic season. Known as Gourmandise Orageuse (Stormy Indulgence) this vintage brings together the complexity and the generosity of a very exciting year. Krug 2000 is one of the most intense, dramatic and romantic Krug Vintages ever made. It also has a very high ageing potential. You may be touched by Krug 2000 expressive aromas of caramel, nougat, hazelnut, freshly baked pastries fresh from the oven. Or by the flavours of citrus-fruit gratins, lime zest with a very long finish and persistence. Krug 2000 has a very high ageing potential.’
Krug ‘Rosé’ (06 base) │’I.D. 113 016′ │59PN 8PM 33CH│TASTING NOTE ‘6 years in the cellars before it was released, received it’s cork winter ’12/’13. Oldest wine from 2000, youngest wine 2006. 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. A little early to assess and above all consume, yet the discovery of this version is very positive as it is quite clear that the 2005 base was not a trend but a temporary accidents. Crystal clear fruit of the most delicate berries with soft complex finesse.’ RJ 91(95)
TASTING NOTE ERIC LEBEL ’Krug Rosé is the only prestige cuvee Rosé blended from a rich palette of wines from three grape varieties and several different vintages, the youngest being from 2006, combined with a very expressive skin-fermented Pinot Noir wine, which provides unparalleled colour and spiciness.
It is an unprecedented Champagne, endowed with the same creative spirit that goes into Krug Grande Cuvée, beyond the very notion of vintage. Due to its very subtle bubbles, long ending and impressive elegance, Krug Rose is unrivalled among Rosé Champagnes. Krug Rosé is the first in a completely reinvented Rosé Universe.
Krug Rosé was created in a bid to move away from excesses in colour, taste and aroma. The result is a Rosé defined by its elegance, distinction and finesse.
Krug Rosé is decidedly the most non-conformist of Krug Champagnes in terms of its texture, colour and taste. It is everywhere we don’t expect it to be. Surprising and extraordinary, Krug Rosé is a controversy that is positively… delicious.’
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.
Read more blog posts on Krug: Richard Juhlin on Krug,
21 champagne lovers | 6 champagnes | 2 vintages | 126 glasses
Photo by Raphaël Cameron Vanity Studios.