Last week we had the honour of holding an exclusive dinner with one of the world’s most sought after and exclusive Champagne Houses – Maison Krug; hosted by the legend that is Olivier Krug.
10 of our private clients were treated to an experience that will go down as one of the best wine & food experiences we have had the pleasure of being part of. Krug needs no introduction, it is the ‘DRC’ of champagne, the ‘big daddy’, the ‘last supper’ choice, the ‘creator of excellence’; it is a champagne that transcends all others. Olivier, who is now at the helm, is the sixth-generation of the founding family, not only is he passionate about the heritage of Krug but also its future. He is one of the most engaging and passionate speakers and captivated everyone around the table.
This exquisite dinner was set in the private dining room at Elystan Street, Phil Howards new restaurant in Chelsea. It could not have been a more perfect match; Phil is quite simply a god with food. His expertise, precision and imagination in creating an inspired modern menu brought these magical Champagne’s to life. The food pairings were simply exquisite.
Elystan Street – Wednesday 10th May
Krug Grand Cuvée, 164 Edition
Tartare of Scallops, oysters and langoustines with cucumber, horseradish and lovage
Krug 2002/Krug 2003
Fillet of turbot with curried lentils, sprouting broccoli and cashew milk
Krug 2002/Krug 2003
Tagine of lamb with green olives and aromatic couscous
Krug Grand Cuvée selected by Olivier Krug
Krug Grand Cuvée, 164 Edition: Drinking Grande Cuvée is one of life’s great pleasures. It is the essence of the house, the ‘archetype of their philosophy’ and they are rightly proud. To make the composition of each release as transparent as possible Olivier and the team have created a new label which will have a unique ‘Edition’ number clearly printed on the front label, the first release of its kind was Edition 163 (2007 base wine). Edition 164 marks the 164th time Krug have released Grand Cuvée since the foundation of Maison Krug in 1843. We were very privileged to taste Edition 164 which had not yet released to the market. It is a blend of 127 wines from 11 different vintages the oldest wine, 1990 and the base wine is the exceptional 2008 vintage. As Olivier mentioned, ‘every sip is the fruit of more than 25 years of patience and craftsmanship’. Something everyone was very mindful of when we eagerly enjoyed our first glass! 48% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 17% Meunier – Exceptionally fresh on the nose, with beautiful aromas of toasted hazelnuts, fresh bread and creamy nougat. The palate had wonderful freshness and a lovely zip of citrus fruits, this intermingled with the richness and toast of the fruit was incredibly exciting. This is currently a very fine, elegant and youthful Grand Cuvée which I think has a very exciting life ahead of it, drinking wonderfully now, but I bet with some cellar aging will grow into something even more complex and beguiling.
Krug vintage 2002 and Krug Vintage 2003.
Both vintages were drunk alongside one another and eaten with the Tartare of Scallops and the Fillet of Turbot. The individual nuances of flavour in each dish echoed beautifully the depth and complexity of fruit from each of the vintages.
I started with the 2002 – This first released to the market on the 1st Feb 2016. 40% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay, 21% Pinot Meunier. This is the 2nd time I have tasted this Champagne. It has certainly grown in stature and weight and has lost its taut youthfulness; it’s going through what can be described as growing stage. I think smouldering and brooding would best way of describing the 2002 now. I remember Olivier saying at the point of release that the grapes were so perfectly ripe there was a battle for supremacy, and I think that is what I am tasting today, a wine that is growing into itself; discovering the marriage in the blend. The depth and weight has certainly grown, but just like all great vintages of Krug, there is no heaviness. It still has beautiful balance and lift. The perfect ripeness of the vintage is starting to define the fruit flavours further. It is very muscular with a dark smoky, savoury richness coming from the Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay has gained depth and weight with honeyed biscuit flavours, roasted nuts and dark orange notes. Just to tease, you still get beautiful traces of lifted citrus intermingled in. Hints of smoke and toast ooze from this dark brooding wine. It is rich, concentrated and massively complex, but effortless in the same breath. The creamy mousse is gloved by the mouth-watering acidity that leaves you with a haunting and vibrant long finish. This still has all the hallmarks of greatness; I am looking forward to tasting again in the future to see how it has grown.
The 2003 was in a totally different place; soft and generous in the glass, it was super expressive with a beautiful freshness. Again, this is another vintage I have been lucky enough to try on numerous occasions and each time it has grown into itself more and more. Today it is in a very happy and delicious place. It is quite simply singing. It went beautifully with the Turbot dish which highlighted the creamy fresh richness and warm dark earthy spice of the 2003 vintage beautifully. The ripeness of the vintage is still present, but it is carried gracefully by a beautiful freshness that is still evident in the blend; notes of spiced apple tart, ripe apricots, brioche and toast are all woven together in a fresh creamy cashew nut finish. The lift of the beautifully fine bubbles and fresh acidity keep the round ripeness in check beautifully and accentuates the layered fruit complexity. This was for many the champagne of the night.
Krug Rose: The dish that accompanied the Rose was inspired; magical in fact. The earthy rich sweet tangy flavours of the lamb and the creamy, spicy and savoury notes that ran through the couscous matched the expressive, aromatic and expansive Krug Rose beautifully. It was a pairing made in heaven. The Rose is blended from three different grape varieties and from a wide range of vintages. These are then blended with skin-fermented Pinot Noir which helps deliver the colour and spice. Krug’s rose is all grown up, broad and serious. The depth and aromatics delivered from its fruit are extensive and generous; from summer fruits, through to dried cranberries; Citrus flavours, to notes of warm spiced cumin. It is a flavour explosion. The fine bubbles that dance on your tongue keep the individual flavours alive and fresh and you cannot help but go back for more. It comes alive with savoury food. What an experience.
To finish the evening off in style, Olivier opened an older Krug Grand Cuvée. A blend of 87 wines from 6 different years, the oldest 1993 and the youngest 1999. This proved how much Grand Cuvee’s benefit from prolonged cellaring. Stylistically this was broad and rich. Lots of toast and nuts, but still retaining the beautiful freshness that is Krugs signature. The palate had lovely mature fruit flavours intermingled with seaweed, graphite and minerals leading to a salty finish that matched the cheeses perfectly.
This was one of the most insightful dinners Goedhuis has ever hosted with Olivier and Maison Krug and I am still buzzing from the whole experience!