Blending masterclass at the Krug Celebration

May 07, 13 Blending masterclass at the Krug Celebration

Posted by in Champagne, France

They say the best time to taste wine is first thing in the morning. Although I’m not a morning person, AT ALL, I do tend to agree with this particular trope. And so, at 9am on our last day at Krug we were all assembled in the tasting room of the house to try our hand at blending a Grande Cuvee 2012. Krug is one of the last houses to blend their ‘non-vintage’ champagne, the Grande Cuvee and they had just finished putting the 2012 version together a week or two earlier. Every year, they start with all over again, not considering what they have done in the past. Initially, Chef de Cave Eric Lebel and his team started out in September with over 300 wines to choose from to use for the blend. Over the next few months they held one tasting a day to determine which should go into the blend. I asked Frederica, one of the winemakers,why they had only one tasting a day? Surely it would be faster to do 2 or 3 tastings each day. She said that they had tried to do 2 a day but in the end it was too difficult to give accurate assessments of the wines and so they reverted back to one tasting a day. Eric, has a special black notebook where he keeps notes on each of the wines tasted. He has to answer two questions every year: 1) to make a vintage champagne and 2) which wines should be saved as reserve wines. For 2012 it has been decided not to make a vintage Krug as the harvest was so small that they would not have enough wine left for the reserve if they made a vintage champagne. On to our little experiments to create a Krug Grande Cuvee. As the previous day we had tried the base wines of 2012, now we were being giving a combination of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot muenier – 16 2012’s and 12 reserve wines...

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Krug Celebration – a tasting, Clos d’Ambonnay & Clos du Mesnil

May 03, 13 Krug Celebration – a tasting, Clos d’Ambonnay & Clos du Mesnil

Posted by in Champagne

Despite all that Krug the night before, I didn’t have even a headache the next day. I’m not sure if that is is a good or bad thing, the ability to drink copious amounts of Krug and feel fine the next day but maybe I’m just lucky. We started bright and early with a short tour of the cellars and the winery. Krug uses oak barrels for all its fermenting and aging. However, as Eric pointed out, the barrels are all old barrels, most averaging about 20 years of age, the oldest dating back to 1964. An interesting side note, all champagne houses historically used oak barrels until the 1960’s when the change was made, seemly en masse, to stainless steel or concrete. After the tour, we commenced a tutored tasting of the 2012 vintage base wines. Chef de Cave Eric Lebel and his team of winemakers walked us through the 2012 vintage. Krug had just finished blending their 2012 Grande Cuvee and it was fascinating to get to try the base wines or vin clair as they are called in French. The base wines are still wines that are blended before going through the second fermentation. Kurg uses chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier in their Grande Cuvee. 2012 was a difficult year, having late frost, mildew and uneven flowering but luckily a warm and sunny August and September saved the vintage and although it was small, it has proven to be a great year. If you’ve never tried base wines, let me tell you now, it’s not exactly a pleasurable experience – base wines are naturally very acidic with not a lot of body, they’re not meant to be drunk now but only after going through the second fermentation and after many years in the cellar. Trying the base wines certainly does give you an appreciation for the imagination, artistry and hard work that goes into blending the wines that eventually become champagne. Krug have 3 main criteria when they are choosing...

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Krug Celebration, the first night… vintage magnums

Apr 29, 13 Krug Celebration, the first night… vintage magnums

Posted by in Champagne

Late last year I attended the Krug Institute of Happiness and left a very happy camper indeed. I do enjoy a glass or 3 of Krug so you can imagine my delight when I was invited to participate in  the Krug Celebration. A 3 day event of all things Krug at the house in Reims. Spring time in Champagne is lovely. However, this year Spring was still waiting to, er, spring, and so it was a rather wet and drizzly afternoon as we headed to the main house of Krug to meet Olivier and his team of winemakers. After brief introductions all round, we headed down to the cellars for the first of many “surprise” tastings – as Olivier told us, with a twinkle in his eyes. And  what a surprise it was – a vertical of magnums, 1961,1969, 1971, 1973 and the youngster, 1981. The main purpose was to show that “…there is no hierarchy amongst the vintages…each one is a unique expression of the year…” Olivier explained that even today, they adhere to the notes that Joseph Krug put down in his now iconic cherry coloured leather notebook when they are blending their champagne. As Olivier said, if they get stuck, they have Joseph at hand, in the form of his notebook, to guide them. There is no recipe per se at Krug. Their aim is to show the very best expression of champagne in each bottle. To that end, they have over 200 base wines to choose from including reserve wines that go back 15 years or more for their non-vintage Grande Cuvee. In comparison, most other non-vintages only use wines from a 3 or 4 years. Krug only make 2 cuvees (and since the 90’s, a rose), the Grande Cuvee which is for all intents and purposes their non-vintage and the vintage. It was a fantastic trip into the past, the magnums were set deep in the cellar facing the Krug library of champagnes. It was awesome to see all...

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Krug’s Institute of Happiness

Jan 17, 13 Krug’s Institute of Happiness

Posted by in Champagne

Anything with Krug makes me happy so imagine my delight when I was invited to the Krug Institute of Happiness early last December. Arriving at the (literally) glass house where we were to dine, I was ushered past the front door and upstairs to the open plan kitchen where Chef Nuno Mendes and his chefs were preparing our appetizers. Nuno has teamed up with Krug to create dishes that he feels take inspiration from Krug champagne. The concept of the evening, to immerse in all things pleasurable – from dining point of view. Kicking off with the Krug Grande Cuvee flowing and a selection of music chosen by us the guests, the glass house was a fun place to drink in not only the Krug but the action in the kitchen as well. Nuno invited us to participate in the prep but we all demurred in favour of more champagne. As a surprise, the head of the house, Olivier Krug was there to chat with us about his family and the champagne while we nibbled on some rather interesting food coming from the kitchen. We then moved into the dining room where we were treated to some amazing dishes. We started with cured lobster in a spring onion consomme paired with the 1998 Krug. The sweetness of the lobster really shining in this dish. Halibut with Seaweed sofrito was paired with the Krug 2000 and the main was a very cleverly put together dish of wood pigeon buried under fallen autumn leaves, the whole thing entirely edible. The wood pigeon was served with the Krug rose which all by itself was treat but to be paired with a meal, even better. That rose was complex and very – rosy, for lack of a better word. I do adore rose and Krug’s is one of the best. Throughout the evening, the Krug was free flowing and there was a piano man to play our favourite songs. At one point,  one of the guests jumped up and...

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Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Nov 05, 12 Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Posted by in Champagne, restaurants

I remember the first time I had Krug. It was a few years ago, it was a magnum from the mid 80’s and I was blown away by the richness, the intricacies,the balance of the champagne. Ever since then, I’ve had a weak spot for Krug although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people find it too rich, too big, too substantial. While it is a substantial champagne, it’s because it’s a champagne that needs food, more so than many others. Angela Hartnett has partnered up with Krug and created a menu to complement their complex champagnes at her restaurant, Murano by Angela Hartnett in Mayfair. Krug Grand Cuvee was served as an aperitif – savoury and very mineral in character, you could taste the older vintages that were used in the blend. The Grand Cuvee is a very generous champagne, blended from a variety of vintages and has a very umami-ish character, perfect with parmesan cheese crisps and the brightest,meatiest green olives I’ve had in a long time. Arrancini with a truffle cream was another of the nibbles and if my tastebuds could, they’d probably have cried tears of joy – just thinking about them is making me salivate… We had a scallop and bream ceviche with vegetable tempura next with the Grande Cuvee. The flavours of the champagne integrated so well with an orange slice tempura – citrus city but really tasty. And the sweetness of the scallops was overcome by the Grande Cuvee. Good match. The 2000 Krug is a different creature altogether, much more linear and aromatic. Served with a ravioli of king prawn with a shellfish vinaigrette and fennel puree, the 2000 was fresh and had a delicate note to it, the sweetness of the prawns serve to highlight the fruit in the wine. Taking a further step back in time, the 1998 Krug is full of spices, mushrooms and the autumnal smells of the forest.  I really enjoyed this wine and with the roasted English rose veal,...

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