On the Trail

Krug’s Relentless Pursuit of Perfection

Gary Westby

I feel honored that Alex and I were invited to return to Krug this year. Once again, I was blown away by Krug’s relentless pursuit of perfection. We were shown the facility and guided through a brief tasting by my longtime friend Julie, who, it is hard to believe, I have now known for 12 years. Where does the time go? Afterward, we had dinner with Alice Tetienne at the Krug house and enjoyed a meal prepared by L’Assiette Champenois —  the top restaurant in the region. Alice is part of the winemaking team and has the crucial job of managing the relationships between Krug and their network of growers.

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We learned about some very interesting upcoming releases: the 2002 Clos Ambonnay in June, the 2004 Clos du Mesnil in July, and the 2006 Krug Vintage at the end of 2019. Because of ocean transport and the long path to market in California, I hope to see these products two months after their release. I promise all my readers that I won’t forget, and I will be nagging everyone in the chain of distribution until I get your bottles!

Over the course of our visit, we tasted the 2004 Vintage, which is now opening up marvelously but has time in hand, as well as the 160th edition Grande Cuvee, which has 2004 as its youngest ingredient. The 160th edition was the top wine of the visit for me, and I found its most serious competitor to be the 158th edition which we had with dinner. Please listen to my advice — Krug Grand Cuvee is the best value in blue chip wine from any region to put in your cellar. It will never disappoint you!

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Throughout dinner, we enjoyed a glass of 2002 Clos du Mesnil with Olivier Krug, who gallantly came to meet us despite only just having stepped off the airplane from the US. As usual, it was electric and exciting to speak with him and drink this super-rare jewel from Champagne’s most famous vineyard. My colleague Alex found the 2002 Vintage Krug, which was paired with an excellent lobster dish, as his favorite. It was easy to see why he loved this rich, complex wine. We also had a chance to pair the Krug Rose with L’Assiette Champenois’s beef wellington. Heightening this experience was the glass, which specifically designed for the Krug Rose by Riedel. I doubt that anyone will feel sorry for us for working so hard.

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Learning about the hands-on way that Krug works with their growers to get the best possible grapes helped me better understand why the finished product is so good. Since everything is vinified plot by plot, they are able to keep the parcels separate and taste with the growers so as to better improve the quality of future vintages. In fact, some growers come and taste a dozen vin clairs from their own land - I can only imagine how much this motivates them to do the best possible job.

It was a great night, and I will never forget it. Thank you Julia and Alice for hosting us at Krug!

- Gary Westby