Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to join LVMH along with few representatives from various wine companies at the iconic Champagne House that is Krug. This was my second visit to Champagne and I was keen to learn more. It was a very wet start leaving Hotel de la Paix in the centre of Reims, however we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits as we set off to visit Clos d’Ambonnay. There are just 0.68 hectares (5,000 bts / 415 cases) of vines at Clos d’Ambonnay.
Maison Krug harvests somewhere between 250 and 300 vineyard plots every year, totaling around 220 acres. The house owns about 50 of those acres, and of the remaining 170 acres, more than 75% are purchased and controlled through direct relationships with farmers, as opposed to being brokered through co-ops.
We were lucky enough to be greeted by the legend himself Olivier Krug, for the 2000 expression tasting at Krug. This was by far one of the highlights of our tour, as we were given the following delicious champagnes to try:
Krug Grand Cuvée
Indisputably the most majestic non-vintage cuvée, this is blended from 10 different vintages (2000 base wine / 1988 oldest) plus 47 wines from 25 villages. The palate is dominated by honey and nuts with graceful acidity and a long finish. Aged 5-7 years on the lees.
2000 Krug Clos du Mesnil Blancs de Blancs
100% Chardonnay. The ultimate Blancs de Blancs. Layers of texture. Generous, rich fruit with hints of honey and lemon on the palate. Breathtakingly good!
2000 Krug Clos D’Ambonnay
4 vintages to date, 1995 being the first. 100% Pinot Noir. The 2000 is a blockbuster. Still a very young wine. Focused and intense fruit with Laser-beam acidity. Very pure, long and poised.
2000 Krug Brut Vintage
Great richness of fruit and precise acidity. Finesse and charm on the palate. Very rich and rounded. Stunning!
“The two Clos represent stars in the Krug constellations – they are like magnificent solos – pure, moving and with a theme that builds from beginning to end”
Naturally, no trip to the house of Krug would be complete without a carefully thought-out wine pairing lunch at Le Parc (Chateau Les Crayeres) – ** Michelin Stars
We had the good fortune to learn all about the complexity of Krug’s Grand Cuvée, the Rosé and the latest vintage, Krug 2003. It was fascinating to sit next to Olivier Krug and his love and passion for the champagnes was infectious. He explained many wonderful things about Krug including the different way in which they blend the Grande Cuvée.
The Grande Cuvée starts with a base wine from a single vintage and then blended over 120 wines from ten or more different vintages, some up to fifteen years in age. It promises uniqueness as there is no other champagne that delivers the full spectrum of everything. This prestige cuvée is made every year, the first back in 1843. According to Olivier it is the “same piece of music but from different composers.” It truly is a masterpiece and an exceptional expression of champagne.
The real highlight for me was the Krug Rosé paired with some delicious veal, a stunning combination! The ingredients of this particular Champagne are made up from a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. Krug Rosé really is a remarkable Champagne which encapsulates the creative spirit of Krug Grande Cuvée. It is also famous as being one of Madonna’s guilty pleasures (with a bag of chips), something I’ve got to try.
Next up was a visit to the ‘House of Krug’. On arrival we were given a tour of the cellars, which went from one floor to another deep into the heart of Krug. It really was an impressive experience. I lost track of the number of tunnels. Navigating around each alleyway was tricky enough, let alone counting the thousands of bottles of Krug. I can certainly think of worst places to get lost in!
Overall this has to go down as one of the greatest wine trips I have experienced. The quality of the Champagnes combined with Oliver Krug’s charm make it truly memorable!