by Paige Donner
Can’t think of a better Christmas present this year than a cellar tour and tasting at Krug.
Isn’t it too true that oftentimes « the best » is shrouded in mystery ? People tell you something is the best but unless you try it for yourself and unless you have the same tastes as the tastemakers, how do you ever really know if « the best » is the best in your estimation ?
« Taste is subjective, » says Julie Murez, Krug’s Hospitality Manager. For a House that has a global reputation of being the best champagne, at least, say, Top Ten, this was a refreshingly humble statement to hear from someone representing a champagne house.
For my upcoming report for World Radio Paris – see my program World of Wine – I will dive more into the details of the house and its philosophy, but here I’d like to remain within the comfort of first impressions. And these first impressions were very comforting.
Pleasure. Their emphasis on the pleasure of the experience of drinking a glass of Krug champagne feels so right. Nevermind why it tastes so good and goes down so easily, let’s just focus on how darned good it makes your senses tingle and feel. That is, receive a glass of Krug with your emotions, less with your intellect, and you will grasp better its goodness.
Playfulness. I had not expected this underlying tone of playfulness within such a dignified house, one of the most established in Reims. But there it was : Playfulness. From hearing how the Tasting Committee tastes each wine from each unique plot (nearly 250) as well as the 150 reserve wines kept in their cellars and how no hard and fast blending rules are obeyed – rather a dance with nature is what is achieved. What nature has given that year is what is respected, recognized and then « mis en valeur » that fantastic French phrase that means cast in the best possible of lights.
History. In many contexts the word history can feel stuffy and evokes images and feelings of austere, untouchable, distant, encased in something that makes it removed from life today. But there at Krug, the new President, « Maggie » as this Argentinian woman is apparently known to all the staff, mined the nuggets of the house’s history when she arrived in 2009. With these nuggets, they assembled a rich human history of just how Joseph Krug, who once worked for Jacquesson Champagnes, in its day the biggest champagne producer in the region, married his boss’s English wife’s sister and then, for his love of and loyalty to quality before all else, felt impelled to start his own champagne house. And this is how Krug was born.
Our unconventional approach, the way we make choices that are not the easiest ones and go beyond the rules when needed illustrate our vision – a constant since the very foundation of the House of Krug. – Olivier Krug, Director of Krug, Sixth Generation
There were many more surprises, all good, all enjoyable, that awaited me that wintry morning on my Krug Cellar visit…That the cuvées, regardless of their price, are not seen as better than the other. « There’s no hierarchy at Krug, » repeated Julie several times ; Their oak barrels that they keep in a pyramid formation ; And their two wine libraries, one of bottles that date back to 1880 and the other that house tenderly cultivated grapes that have been gently pressed into juice and then fermented into wines that will be the blends of their champagne in the years and decades to come.
Enjoy the photos. And yes, be good to yourself, open up and enjoy a bottle of Krug with yourself and someone who appreciates you a whole lot. And then decide for yourself if a champagne that the world deems « the best » is really the best for you.
And Good Heavens, don’t forget that before all else there’s a huge dose of pleasure to be had in each bottle of Krug.