The elaboration of each cuvee by the prestigious Krug House of Champagne involves a meticulous selection of the perfect blend, comprising over 120 wines of 3 distinct varietals, spread over more than 10 different vintages. More than perhaps any other of its famous neighbors, Krug has become known for the amazing complexity of its signature blend, made of grapes plucked directly from the local terroir. It is, in fact, the rich diversity of plots forming Champagne’s colorful topographical tapestry that inspires Krug Cellar Master Eric Lebel to each year compose a single wine out of a symphony of flavors and aromas.
Joseph Krug and His Viticultural Legacy
The House of Krug was founded in 1843 by a man named Joseph Krug with the sole mission of capturing the true essence of Champagne. Since that year the House has remained devoted to the production of prestige Champagnes always with the founder’s philosophy in mind. Joseph Krug took terroir very seriously, knowing that Champagne could only be achieved by using great wines separately vinified from great grapes, grown on various parcels around the region. But one thing seemed to trouble him: the level of impact that weather conditions from one vintage to the next could have on the outcome of his wines. So, he began to build a collection of reserve wines, with which he experimented to determine the perfect blend. He believed that any great Champagne House should create 2 cuvees: a consistent expression of the Champagne terroir produced each year, and a vintage cuvee reflecting the conditions of a particular year, produced only in the best years.
In the 1970’s, the fifth generation of the Krug family – Henri and Remi Krug – decided to add a rose champagne, inspired by Pinot Noir, to the range. The brothers also made a wonderful discovery – that the fifteen plots (1.84 hectares in total) of Chardonnay vines that they had purchased in Mesnil-sur-Oger was producing wines of magnificent quality. In 1979 they revealed the Krug Clos du Mesnil, an exclusive cuvee produced from one plot of only one grape variety and in one year. The Krug Clos d’Ambonnay cuvee was created just a few years later to express what the House considered the best plot of Pinot Noir grapes.
The Individual and The Blend
The remarkable complexity of Krug’s cuvees are achieved by thinking simultaneously of two different concepts: individual wines and how they blend to create a whole that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Always in line with the philosophy of the Founder, the wines are treated as individuals, each with their own unique personality. Each plot of vines (of just one varietal) is harvested separately with very careful attention paid to the selection process. Grapes from a single plot are vinified in the same oak cask. During this time the wines develop and come to express their individual character. The wines are then conserved separately in small vats, housed in a magnificent library of around 150 different reserves, including wines from 10 to 12 different vintages.
Once the individual wines reach their optimal form of expression, the time has come to produce the blend. Eric Lebel works closely with the Tasting Committee (which includes the most important members of the Krug team) to determine the recipe for each year’s assemblage. Granted, Lebel has a head-start each year. From even before the harvest, he tastes the grapes daily in order to get to know the qualities of each plot and to begin thinking about how they can contribute to the final cuvee. The blending process involves individual wines from a whopping 250 plots as well as 150 reserve wines from years before. In April, Lebel creates three different options for the Grande Cuvee, among which one is chosen to represent the House each year. The Grand Cuvee ages in the cellar for at least seven years before release (at least five years for the Krug Rose). The single-parcel Clos du Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay spend at least ten years in the cellar before becoming commercially available.
Popping open a beautiful bottle of Champagne by Krug is a perfect way to celebrate any occasion. Next time, make sure to note the incredible effort invested into producing the ultimate perfect blend.
Two of Our Favorites From Krug
Krug : Vintage 2002Browse this Champagne
Krug : Grande Cuvee Edition 164