Roger Jones’ relationship with Krug stretches back over the decades not just years – his restaurant was the first in Britain to serve Krug Grand Cuvée and Krug Vintage by the glass, and he is also known to open a bottle when the Welsh narrowly scrape through a rugby match. Jones was a natural, then, to meet up with Krug chef de cave Eric Lebel who was in London last week to launch new vintage Krug 2006 and the 162nd edition of Krug Grand Cuvée. Krug’s nickname for the 2006 – ‘Capricious Indulgence’ – Jones was not sure about, but he did like the wine and found the idea of matching it with a private gig from a South African loop artist interesting, giving as it did a new meaning to the term ‘House music’.
A champagne launch can go a bit OTT, but Krug’s launch of the 2006 Vintage was restrained and elegant, as one might expect of this ‘grand old master’.
This was an introduction to the latest members of the Krug family, the Krug 2006 and Krug Grande Cuvée 162nd Edition (based on the 2006 harvest).
Eric Lebel, chef de cave at Krug highlighted Joseph Krug’s philosophy that a House should have two Champagnes – Champagne Number 1 and Champagne Number 2.
In Joseph Krug’s words the Champagne Number 1 (Krug Grande Cuvée) should be the “fullest expression of Champagne, re-created every year, regardless of annual climate variations.” Krug Grande Cuvée is a blend of over 120 different wines from more than 10 different years. It is a ‘complete orchestra playing together in harmony’.
Champagne Number 2 (Krug Vintage) is created in Joseph’s words “according to the circumstances.”At Krug it may not necessarily be the best wines of a good year, but the selection of the wines that express the story of the year, those wines that ‘play the music’ of the year. Krug Vintage is aged for over 10 years in their cellars.
ID and Krug Edition
Since 2011 Krug has become more digital friendly and each Krug Grande Cuvée now has an ID Code on the bottle which traces the bottle’s contents; in addition to this, Krug also now releases the edition number on the front label, giving the chance for restaurateurs and the off -trade to benefit from holding stock. In the past it was difficult to quantify the age of a Grand Cuvée besides when labels changed, and that (from memory) has only happened three times since I have been drinking these wines. The benefits of holding Krug Grande Cuvée are immense and also increase in value with age.
Krug X Music
Music is a big deal to Krug these days, with recent launches combined with music and the House holding “Krug Music Pairings” when it invites selected musicians to a tasting of its Champagnes. These artists are then asked to create a special playlist inspired from what they taste and how they connect this to the Krug experience and story.
Following the formal tasting we descended to the basement of the Gibson Guitars Studios to hear a private gig by solo loop artist Michael Sebastian – enhancing the Krug Grand Cuvée and Krug 2006 experience with some pretty unique music.
Michael Sebastian is a South African born musician and loop-artist that improvises to create music from a broad range of experience and styles. I got in contact with Michael to see how he had enjoyed his “15 minutes of Krug fame”.
What’s your normal drink? “ I’m a Pale Ale guy, but love some Champagne on special occasions
Had you drunk Krug before? “Never, though my Dad has and was really excited for me.”
How many bottles of each Krug did you taste before you got the music right? “I’d like to say loads, but a glass of each was enough. What was more important for me was to hear directly from the House how they made the champagne and their understanding of the personality of each bottle, which I then did my best to translate into music.”
Michael is on instagram @bastiancreations and his website is www.bastiancreations.com
Back in the old days, Krug launches were very much about food matching and trying to pursue the notion then of how good Champagne and food went together, and especially Remi Krug demanding that Krug Rosé should not be served with desserts but should be enjoyed (quite rightly) with Lobster, Turbot or Milk Fed Lamb.
To start with, the wine is clean, fresh, vibrant, with restrained yellow stone fruit, and hints of clementine, as it evolves on the palate the complexity and elegance come to the surface, building it into a sensational Champagne that has a distinguished Pinot Meunier backbone. Sitting on the palate this wine is refined, delicate with a hint of citrus on the finish.
The Krug 2006 has been nicknamed (their word not mine) – “Capricious Indulgence” – which implies ‘one night stand’, ‘brief affair’ or ‘frivolous affairs’, I’m not sure if any of these actually reflect this stunning opulent champagne, as it is far deeper and meaningful and something to treasure and keep by you.
The stone fruit was much more apparent in this 2004, it was also very fresh and racy, hints of delicate, dried tropical fruit, still evolving but a masterly Champagne.
Krug Grande Cuvée 167eme Edition
The most recent release of the yearly Grande Cuvée, the classic house style that delivers pretty much perfection year on year. Delicate brioche coated in perfect honey with white-nibbed nuts, with an oh so gentle stone fruit finish – long and elegant with perfect acidity.
Krug Grand Cuvée 162eme Edition
Based on the 2006 vintage, this has evolved majestically, still beautifully fresh and vibrant with some hints of toastiness, the most delicate of smoked salmon nuances with a patisserie background brimming forward.
Krug has been a huge influence on my restaurant The Harrow at Little Bedwyn and this Krug listing from some years ago (please don’t get excited and rush down as, although we still have these in our cellars, the prices have gone up a few floors!).
We were the first UK restaurant to pour both Krug Grand Cuvée and Krug Vintage by the Riedel glass, and welcomed the hand-signed letters from Remi Krug.