Krug Tasting

5 September 2012
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee

Krug’s reputation as an ‘intellectual Champagne’ is one that I would agree with – it appeals to the senses as well as the mind. While Krug has always enjoyed a prestigious reputation since it was founded in 1868 by the visionary Joseph Krug, new life and purpose has been injected by the charismatic President & CEO, Maggie Henriquez. Not only has Maggie introduced disgorgement dates on all their champagnes including the Grande Cuvée, she has also spent a great deal of energy reviving the history of Krug. One of the results of researching the archives and history of Krug is a newfound respect for the Grande Cuvée, a non vintage Champagne at a prestige cuvée level that brings as many as 120 components into the blend.


I was fortunate to be with both Maggie and Olivier Krug in July 2012 in Krug’s cellar in Reims. The tasting of several vintages of Clos du Mesnil and vintage Krug alongside it was an eye-opening experience. I can see why Maggie and the team are placing a stronger emphasis on Grande Cuvée – these complex, non vintage beauties have great bottle aging potential.


1. 1996 Krug, Champagne, France

I have enjoyed this vintage since its first release. It is fresh, vibrant and still incredibly youthful (tasted alongside the 2000 and the 1998, this was the most youthful of the 3). The details on this wine are very precise, fine and lacy. No doubt the 1996 will keep for a decade or more easily, and remain youthful. 1996 is a complex, layered style with a linear focus that is typical of Krug. Very long finish with precision and depth. A 16-year old Champagne that tastes younger than half its age!(98)


2. 2000 Krug, Champagne, France

This vintage was tasted alongside the 2000 Clos du Mesnil and interestingly I slightly preferred the vintage versus the Clos du Mesnil. This Champagne has incredible concentration and intensity and while it may not be as fine and delicate as the Clos du Mesnil, it has stature and elements that are very enticing. It is open and generous now, just starting to offer the toasted nuts and biscuity flavours of a mature Champagne. There are layers of delicious pastry notes followed by a very long finish. Incredible Champagne that does not need anything to accompany it – it is a symphony all on its own.(97)


3. 2000 Krug – Clos du Mesnil,Champagne, France

The 2000 was disgorged 18 months ago, in early 2011. Very fresh flavours with focus and finely etched details. Flavours are complex with hints of biscuits, nuts, white flowers and spices. The backbone is made up of firm acidity that forms a clear linear line across the tongue and tightly knit flavours. The Chardonnay expression is crystalline and pure. Gorgeous detail – very long in the finish. A fine and elegant Clos du Mesnil.(96)


4. 1998 Krug – Clos du Mesnil, Champagne, France

1998 is considered a challenging year in Champagne because of the heat wave in August. The high temperatures stressed the vines and the grapes matured too fast. The result is a full-bodied ripe vintage Krug with toasty, buttery flavours and a generous palate. As Olivier Krug says, “it is like a sparkling Montrachet”. This vintage has evolved more quickly than other recent vintages, but it only means that we can enjoy it sooner and take full advantage of its mouth-filling generosity.(95)


5. NV Krug – Grand Cuvée, Champagne, France

This Grand Cuvée was created in 1996 and was aged in the cellars of Krug. A real treat with flavours that have evolved into a complex wine with biscuit and nutty flavours. The wine is mouthfilling yet has clearly etched details. It is clear from the quality and youthfulness of this wine that the Grand Cuvée has amazing potential to age. Now that Krug has disgorgement dates on all its bottles, one can age the Grand Cuvée and know exactly when it was disgorged!(95)


6. 1998 Krug, Champagne, France

There was a heat wave in August this year providing the core ripe flavours that have now evolved into biscuity, nutty flavours. This is an opulent, ripe style that is ready to enjoy now. In typical vintage Krug style, it is in the finish that one sees the signature of this Champagne house – the firm grip and minerally finish despite the ‘hot’ vintage.(94)


7. NV Krug – Grand Cuvée, Champagne, France

This is a fresh, finely detailed Grand Cuvée with amazing length. The complexity of this Champagne becomes obvious when you realize that the oldest vintage in this blend is a 1990 and the youngest is 2004. The components consist of 122 wines from 12 different years. This pure, focused, intellectual wine is Grand Cuvée bottle number: 111 (disgorged early 2011).(93)


8. NV Krug – Grand Cuvée, Champagne, France

A very precise, intellectual Champagne that is ready to enjoy now though it may keep for several years. The complexity is not the same as some of the more recent bottlings but it still has the signature Krug focus and purity of flavours. 2000 was the base wine, and the oldest was 1988. Blend of at least 10 different vintages.(91)


9. Declassified/Not Available: 1999 Krug – Clos du Mesnil, Champagne, France

This vintage of Clos du Mesnil will not be available to the public since it was declassified. Tasted blind alongside the other vintages of Clos du Mesnil, it appeared to be a thin, poised Champagne that was fresh at first but lacking in the finish. This vintage was rejected after bottling because the Krug team deemed it lacking in energy and the appropriate quality level for Clos du Mesnil. After the wine warmed up and going back to it an hour later, the base wine is disappointing – a bit flabby and definitely lacking in length. However, it is a lovely Champagne that in many other houses would have been used. This is an example of Krug’s obsession to detail and towards quality.(89)