Champagne Krug, since 1843, has proudly cultivated the decidedly individual character of their exceptional champagne. It has become a living legend; an indisputable idea of excellence that has quietly been redefined without a break throughout six generations.
Krug’s founder, Johann-Joseph Krug, was a maverick wine producer who possessed not only the vision, but also the talent, to achieve his ambition of creating a champagne with a taste quite unlike any other.
To discover the taste of Champagne Krug is to share in that inspiring spirit; sense that intense passion and experience something truly exceptional.
Krug: Champagne AOP
Krug & Co. (The house is now part of global luxury brands conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH))
Total: 20 hectares (126 acres)
Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay
Krug Grande Cuvée NV, Krug Rosé, Krug Vintage, Krug Vintage Collection, Krug Clos du Mesnil, Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs
This does not really apply to Krug, as most champagnes are blended.
Unable to confirm.
Top Vintages Produced
Krug: 1981, 1988, 1990, 1996
The House of Krug was founded in 1843 in the city of Reims, France, by German immigrant Johann-Joseph Krug who came from the city of Mainz on the Rhine. Johann- Josef had previously learned his trade working at Champagne Jacquesson for some nine years before deciding to set up Krug.
The champagne house remained in the family’s hands for several generations, with continual father-to-son handovers until 1999 when it was bought by the global luxury brands conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH). Like most of the companies in the group, despite the take-over, Krug runs with a certain amount of autonomy. Indeed, the house is still headed by Krug family member Olivier Krug. This has played a large role in maintaining the house’s reputation and consistent style.
Champagne Krug is described as a ‘négociant- manipulateur’ (NM) whose offices are based in Reims, the main city in the Champagne Region and was one of the highly famed and respected Champagne houses who together were founder members in 1882 of the Syndicat du Commerce des Vins de Champagne which later became the Club des Grandes Marques. Currently there are 24 members.
Almost all the source vineyards are classified Grand Cru. Unlike other négociants, Krug’s growers openly reveal Krug as the destination of their grapes considering themselves members of a long-standing prestigious group.
Viticulture and Vinification
All grapes are picked by hand. A distinctive feature of winemaking at Krug is that once the grapes are collected, the first fermentation of all the base wines is uniquely carried out in small, 205 litre oak barrels and those from the individual parcels are kept separately until blending occurs. The oak casks employed are old and neutral, so do not impart any oaky flavours to the base wines. They are used instead for their porous nature and the fact that they allow a slow controlled exposure to oxygen (micro-oxygenation) which naturally takes place when they are used. This gentle but continual, exposure to oxygen is one factor which contributes to Krug’s extraordinary ability to age and add complexity to its champagne. Each cru is vinified separately, without undergoing any malolactic fermentation, and then two rackings are carried out by gravity. Reserve wines are subsequently transferred to stainless-steel tanks until bottling.
The blending (l’assemblage), is one of the most important parts of the production process. The blending creates the specific house style and sets Krug apart from its competitors. Krug blends are usually Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier dominant.
Krug is identified by its strongly developed and aged nutty lees influence and is almost invariably dry (less than 10 g/l residual sugar) thanks to its barrel fermentation.
- Krug Grande Cuvée NV
- Krug Rosé
- Vintage Krug
- Krug Collection Vintage
- Krug Clos du Mesnil
- Krug Clos d’Ambonnay
Krug Grande Cuvée NV, Krug’s non-vintage, is a Pinot-dominated blend of only good, or declarable vintages from at least 6 to 10 vintages originating from 20 to 25 Grande and Premier Cru vineyards. As a result the wine-makers at Krug prefer to talk of Grande Cuvée as a ‘multivintage’ wine than ‘non-vintage’. This is because it can have up to 50 reserve wines used in the final blend, higher than the norm for Champagne. The high proportion of reserve wines in its blend, is the reason the company insists that it explains the high quality of their wine. After final assemblage, the blend is then allowed to age for 7 years or more on the lees.
Krug Rosé NV has been in production since 1983 and is achieved by adding still red Pinot Noir to a Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier-dominant Champagne blend. The wine is then aged in the bottle for another 5 years.
Vintage Krug is comprised entirely of the harvest from a single outstanding year. The aim is to capture the essence of that particular vintage while maintaining Krug’s house style. The 1996 is considered notably exceptional.
The 1998 vintage is on record as the hottest vintage since 1961. The Chardonnay vineyards did particularly well in the long periods of hot sun, so the Vintage Krug 1998 is rich in Chardonnay. It’s also the last vintage of the twentieth century, since 1999 wasn’t released as a vintage Champagne.
Krug Collection Vintage comprises the last bottles available from a past notable vintage. These late-released Champagnes have been stored in Krug’s cellars for an extended period and are only released for sale when deemed ready to drink.
Krug Clos du Mesnil is a 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs ,produced from the fruit of a single vineyard – the 1.85 ha Clos du Mesnil. Krug purchased and replanted the vineyard in 1971. It took a while to get it up to scratch, and consequently, the first release wasn’t until 1986, based on the 1979 vintage.
Krug Clos d’Ambonnay is the rarest of all Krug wines, a 100% Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs which is from a small Pinot Noir vineyard Clos d’Ambonnay of only 0.685 hectares (1.69 acres), acquired in the mid-1990s. The first release of this was the 1995 vintage, in 2008. Only 3000 bottles are made and this is Krug’s most expensive wine in their range.
Krug is sometimes considered a producer of only prestige cuvées, which is one of the tenets of the company’s marketing strategy. This unique selling point (USP) is justified by indicating the large number of highly-rated crus and the choice of vintages at their disposal, as well as the extended lees ageing regime of their standard wine, the Grande Cuvée as being similar, if not superior to most other house’s Prestige Cuvées.
Without doubt, the price of Krug Champagnes is much higher than others, with even the Grande Cuvée being priced higher than other very prestigious and highly regarded Prestige Cuvées such as Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, Moët’s Dom Perignon, Veuve’s La Grande Dame, or Bollinger’s RD.
However, it cannot be denied that given their customers’ perception of the quality brand, Krug Grande Cuvée is one of the crown jewels in the LVMH wine division.
Champagne Krug in the news
7 November 2011
Olivier Krug, director of Champagne Krug, who was in London for the launch of the Krug Vintage 2000 and Krug Clos du Mesnil 2000 announced that the company is launching a new ID code for its top non-vintage blend, Krug Grande Cuvée, bearing the disgorgement period (expressed as a quarter of the year) and other information. He asserted that the move was aimed at giving Krug lovers more information about the wines they may have in their own cellars.
‘We know that Krug lovers are interested in how Grande Cuvée ages and this information will enable those with several different blends in their cellars in five years’ time to see which is the oldest.’
In future, the ID code will indicate when each bottle was disgorged and will link via the Internet to information about the harvest conditions prevailing over the year on the wines used, which made up the majority of the blend.
The ID codes will be on all bottles leaving the house, starting from the beginning of July 2011.
Champagne Krug is setting aside barrels of its top selling wine Grande Cuvée in order to be able to release a second batch of the blend after it has achieved even longer ageing on its lees. Prior to its release, Grande Cuvée is already aged for seven years, but Julie Cavil from the wine-making team confirmed they have been keeping back extra volumes of Grande Cuvée from each blend since 2009, which will allow the company an opportunity to sell a second release of the wine.
- MacNeil, Karen (2001),The Wine Bible, Workman Publishing, New York, USA.
- Clarke, O (2011) Pocket Wine Book 2012, Pavillion Books, London.
- Johnson, H (2011) Pocket Wine Book 2012, Octopus Publishing Group, London.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne Krug http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne (Region)
About the author
Philip Day is an early-retired academic in linguistics who has published many articles.
A North-Midlander (The Potteries) by birth, he currently lives close to the Lancashire Pennines which he regularly explores with his Patterdale terrier, Max.
In particular he has a keen interest in European fine wines and good food and will be contributing further articles in the future for Escapement.uk.com.