Krug Champagne

"There is Krug, then there are other Champagnes"


Krug is a small Champagne house that makes a traditional, and many say the best in the world, Champagne.

Krug is a very big and very dry Champagne which is extremely rich and complex, with both incredible finesse and power which cannot be explained with mere words. Nothing else tastes like Krug. It's not necessarily for for everyone, even if you ignore the steep price. It's a very serious wine, best served with food, and not for casual toasting and christening of yachts etc.

Brothers Remi and Henri Krug, who run Krug, say "There is Champagne, and then there is Krug." Oh yes, it is unique, and superlative. I consider myself a Krugiste, even though I only get to drink it a couple of times a year. My friend Pierre, THE Champagne Poodle, used to fly British Air simply because they served Krug in their first class!

So what makes Krug Krug? Certainly meticulous grape selection from among the finest vineyards in Champagne is important, as is their extended aging in small, old, oak casks. They also use Pinot Meunier grapes, one of the three allowed varieties in Champagne; most prestige cuvées do not, believing it to be not worthy of their prestige cuvées - Krug disagrees. Also Krug only makes prestige cuvées, or top of the line Champagnes, and they all kick butt, assuming you like the style.

Krug is now part of the conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), but run with a large amount of autonomy which has allowed them to maintain their reputation.

The Grande Cuvée is their entry level Champagne and over $100 a bottle. It's not a vintage Champagne, but neither do they call it a non-vintage. Rather, they describe it as Multi Vintage or MV for short. It's usually comprised of 50% or so older vintages, and Krug ages it for a minimum of six years before release.

There is some argument as to whether the Grande Cuvée has maintained its quality since LVMH has owned them. Some argue that the wine is not aged as well, and needs several more years of aging tin the bottle to show well. I can only report that every bottle I had have has been superb.

It's decadently rich, with layers of nuts, toast, and creaminess, developing honeyed notes as it ages. And considering it's not a vintage Champagne, it ages extraordinarily well, at least for a decade and probably for at least two, gaining in complexity, balance, and power.

Krug Vintage Brut, made only in the best years, is like Krug Grande Cuvée on steroids. It usually needs several years of aging. For example, I haven't even touched my 1988s yet and it's 2009 now, 21 years later (I've had one - see below). The 1996, released in 2007, was unpleasant to drink on release and needs at least a decade to become palatable - I'll wait at least two decades, especially as I only have two bottles. Krug lasts forever - the 1928 is still drinking extremely well, which unfortunately I cannot report from firsthand experience.

Krug Collection: Krug holds back some Vintage Brut and releases them much later under the designation "Krug Collection." They are even more expensive, and superlative.

Krug also makes a rose, Krug Rose, another Multi-vintage wine. It's true to the Krug style, extremely dry, complex and big. I had a magnum immediately after my wedding, and unfortunately had to share it with my wife (just joking!).

Krug's (previous) most expensive and arguably best wine is their exquisite Krug Clos du Mesnil, a massive blanc du blancs (i.e. pure Chardonnay) Champagne produced from a single vineyard, Clos du Mesnil. This is perhaps the biggest Blanc du blancs out there together with Salon, and is dry, crisp and fresh with loads of minerality. It ages seemingly forever, but unfortunately has become absurdly priced as of late. It's not as big as Vintage Krug which is no surprise, but it's still a massive wine that takes years to be fully ready to drink. I've only had the privilege of drinking this once, a present from Pierre, The Champagne Poodle, and it went wonderfully with Maine lobster and cheesecake.

Krug Clos D'Ambonnay is Krug's most expensive wine - at least close to $2000 a bottle. It is 100% Pinot Noir, a Blanc de noirs, made from a tiny 0.68-hectare plot from the heart of Ambonnay. "Extraordinarily powerful and intense" are often used descriptors.

Krug is a unique Champagne house with unique wines. Nothing else tastes like Krug, and if you like the style, there is nothing better in the world. If you're a Champagne fan, you owe it to yourself to try a bottle of Krug, and you just might start describing yourself as a Krugiste too!

Vintage Krug Vertical:85,88,90,95TN: Krug 85, 88, 90, 95 - June 2015

I seem to do this every few years whether I need to or not!

Krug 1985 - rated A/A-

This was the crowd favorite, but not mine. It showed much better than last time, about 4 years ago (see below). It was splendid and had an orangeish tinge in its color.

The Nose was sherried, nice, round and earthy.

On the Palate it was lovely, round, spicy, with vanilla tones. It showed best the first 75 minutes.

Last bottle, otherwise I'd drink up (but in no hurry!). Some speculation that this may not have been a pristine bottle, although I bought it on release.

Krug 1988 - rated A/A+

Young young young! Give this time!! Much more time than the 90!

A creamy, orange, and caramel nose.

The taste - ohhh my! Lemon and orange meringue, creamy, racy.

Krug 1990 - rated A

The nose was dusty and sherried, expansive, citrus fruits, a little vanilla.

The palate was initially bigger than the 88 with orangeish zest and just intense and amazingly clear and pure.

With air this just got better and better!

Krug 1995 - rated A (potential upside too)

I believe many 95s are underappreciated and will live long and prosper and please those who drink them in the next couple+ decades.

The 95 Krug is no exception. Loved it! Super young but I enjoyed it immensely (not everyone did as it was quite young).

The nose has sweaty socks like a young Grand Cru White Burgundy and more but mainly a palate wine now.

The palate initially was "fireworks in the mouth" - think Jacques Selosse! An explosion in the mouth, wild citrus, lemon zest, wow!

Vintage Krug 85,88,90TN: Krug 85, 88, 90 - August 2011, Wow!

On 4 August 2011 friends and I opened the three Vintage Krugs on the right, the 1985, 1988, and 1990.

The 1985 Krug was similar to other tastings over the past decade and it was the one that stood out from the others and the most interesting. The nose was frothy, creamy, and mushrooms, and on the palate there was more than a touch of oxidation, true to the Krug style, lots of toasty oak, and it was almost like a Belgian Trappist Ale. The 1990 Krug was awesome with a cornucopia of tastes, creamy, and toasty with ample sweetness. I loved it! The 1988 was the most reserved and backwards and similar in other respects to the 1990. I like the 88 best.

Next time I serve vintage Krug I'll have bigger food, for example red meat, although the truffle popcorn did go well with the Krug! It's big and can stand up to very big tasting food.

Krug RoseTasting Note: Krug Rose - December 2012, as part of the holiday wine tasting at Blanchards in Allston Mass, Rated A

A light pink color.

The nose was saline, racy, minty - wow! Strawberry after breathing a while.

On the palate it was very rich and intense. Some red fruits dancing in the background. Words cannot do this justice!