There’s Champagne, and then there is Champagne.
Krug is one of the few Champagne houses which exudes luxury in everything they do. It’s not open to the public for visits, but you can live vicariously through the special bumper photo post below.
I was lucky enough to be invited for an ‘in depth immersion into the Krug philosophy’, and the fact that the visit happened to coincide with my birthday made it even better!
Based in Reims, the burgundy red iron gates open onto a large courtyard which houses their gravity flow winery.
At 10am in the morning, we were greeted by our host Mylène and a glass of Krug Grande Cuvee NV. Not a bad way to begin the day!
The Grand Cuvee is a non-vintage (NV) wine which is Krug’s signature Champagne. This seems rather unusual in a region where it tends to be the vintage wines that are sought after, but this is the legacy of Joseph Krug who began the house back in 1843. He was a strong believer that there was no difference in quality between vintage and NV styles, and set out to create the best NV Champagne.
The phrases patience, and generosity were thrown around by our host with abandon during our visit, and it’s easy to see why.
From their Grande Cuvee NV, which is 24 years in the making, to the style which is rich and powerful, these two words definitely encapsulate all this brand is about.
Krug is one of the few houses that ferments their wines in old oak barrels before they undergo natural sedimentation, and then flow down to the tanks below with the help of gravity.
They then undergo the monumental process of tasting up to 150 different reserve wines, from the last 15 years. Usually this process is already happening the February after the harvest, but at Krug they taste several times to make sure it’s perfectly balanced and it will not be ready until around September.
From this they will make up the blend before it undergoes its second fermentation, and again it’s a game of patience with their wines left on their lees for a very generous 7 years – way beyond the 15 months minimum that the law of the region dictates.
Then once in bottle, that is not the end of the story, as the wines will age for many years afterwards. Krug have even recently launched an ID system which will tell you exactly what the blend of grapes in your bottle is, a tasting note, reviews, food pairings and even music pairings for your bottle.
The style is driven by what tastes best, but it tends to include a high proportion of the Pinot Noir variety which adds weight and structure. We were lucky enough to try a couple of vintages whilst we were there too (2000 and 2003) and whilst different, the style of Krug is unmistakable. The words biscuit, brioche, butter, patisserie were written all over my tasting notes.
Of course, the wines are not cheap but their production is not huge, and after understanding exactly what goes into make a bottle of Krug I’d have to say the price tag is well worth it. After all, Champagne is about pleasure, and Krug delivers that in its purest form.
All photos Copyright © 2015 Kidd Wolff.