On the Trail

Krug – Always Something New to Report

Gary Westby

I have been very lucky to visit Krug on many occasions over the course of my career, a destination that no wine lover could ever tire of. There is a strong argument that Krug makes the best wine in the world here. Since 1843, they have been blending not just across the greatest terroirs of Champagne, but also across time. Unlike the great Burgundy wines that are sold far too young to drink, or the great Bordeaux wines that are sold before they are even in bottles, Krug is sold with its drinking window open after long ageing in their cellars in Reims.

On this visit, I sat down with Olivier Krug for a tasting of their current releases. The youngest wine that we tasted was the 163rd edition, which has wine from 2007 in it, along with eleven other vintages going all the way back to 1990. We also did a very interesting tasting of the 2002 releases, with Clos du Mesnil, Vintage 2002 and the 158th edition, which has 2002 as its youngest element. The wines went from authoritatively great to beguiling, and the 158th edition proved once again how much these wines can do with more age.

After the tasting, we were welcomed as the very first guests into the still-under-construction Krug house next door to the production facility. We enjoyed an aperitif and sat down to dinner with Maggie Henriquez, the CEO of Krug. I was blown away to find out that none other than Arnauld Lallement, the chef of L’Assiette Champenois would be cooking for us. Dishes like the blue lobster with gnocchi paired with the 159th edition of Krug (the youngest part coming from 2003) I will never forget!

Maggie informed us that in the future, they will be expanding the Krug Collection range. Currently, they are selling the spectacular 1990 Krug "Collection" Brut Champagne at twenty-seven years old. We tasted it, and it was still utterly fresh and vibrant, but it also delivered on the savory white truffle promise of old Krug. They have been saving some of the Grand Cuvee for longer sur-lee ageing, and once Eric Lebel thinks that they are ready, they will release them as Collection Editions. This is going to be very special, but as with all things at Krug, will take time. We also learned that Krug will be releasing their 2004 vintage in late fall. We did not taste it, as they do not think it has had enough time on the cork yet. Now, nothing leaves the house until it has had a year to rest after disgorgement. I am looking forward to this 2004, as I have found so many Champagnes from this vintage to have similarities to the lithe 1988’s. As vintages like this balance the vinous power of Krug so nicely, I can’t wait to try it!!!

-Gary Westby