- The Underground Wine Letter - http://www.undergroundwineletter.com -


At the invitation of K&L Wine Merchants and Gray Westby, the Champagne buyer for K&L, I recently attended a dinner and tasting of Krug Champagnes. It featured the new Krug releases and was held at the Quattro restaurant located in the Palo Alto Four Seasons Hotel.

 Krug Dec.2012 [1]

This was a memorable evening in all respects. Highlights were the great Krug Champagnes, the fabulous food, and the wonderful company featuring the presence of Margareth (Maggie) Henriquez who for the past 3 years has been the President and CEO of Krug. And, all were new to me. The new Krug Champagnes included some of the best young Krug Champagnes of my experience. The food prepared by chef Marco Fossati was artistically presented and absolutely delicious. And, there was the opportunity to meet and chat with Maggie which was very special. As well as being a totally knowledgeable and delightful person, Maggie is doing an absolutely remarkable job as head of the venerable house of Krug. Following is a brief history of Krug past and present, notes on the food and wine pairings, and notes on the Krug Champagnes.

 The House of Krug

House of krug [2]

Krug was established in 1843 by Johann-Joseph Krug, a German immigrant, who had previously learned his trade at Champagne Jacquesson. For many generations Krug was owned and managed by the Krug family. Some 40 years ago, the company was sold to Rémy Martin in order to help expand the distribution network. During this period the 5th generation Krug family members, Henri and Rémi, retained a degree of control as shareholders in Rémy Martin and guided the company. That ended in 1999 when Krug was sold to the luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH). An LVMH manager has been president of the brand since 2005 and a 6th generation member of the Krug family, Olivier, currently is employed as a member of the tasting committee and Director of Krug representing the company around the world. In 2009 Maggie Henriquez was named President and CEO. She previously managed the Argentine wine business, Bodegas Chandon, which is also owned by LVMH. She has done a great job in continuing the long history of Krug excellence and has been a leader in establishing a policy of putting codes on the back labels of the Grand Cuvée and the Rosé. These codes disclose all the information about the wine including the disgorgement date, the year of the base harvest of the wine as well as the number vintages used in the blend and the oldest of them. This is a great move on the part of Krug. Since 1989, the Underground has advocated such disclosure (to read a recent article on this subject click here [3]) But, to date, only some of the smaller Champagne houses have adopted a policy of providing information about their wines on the label. The major houses, for the most part, have resisted. But,  now, thanks to Maggie, Krug is one of the most transparent Champagne houses. This is a policy that all Champagne houses should adopt. Hopefully they will all follow the Krug example.

Notes On The Food and Wine

The meal was especially created to match each dish with the characteristics of the different Krug Champagnes. Chef Marco Fossati worked ahead of time with members of the Krug team to create each dish. The pairing of the remarkable dishes that Chef Marco Fossati created and the great Krug Champagnes resulted in a meal that will forever last in my memory as one of the finest expressions of the marriage of food and wine that I have ever experienced.

Krug Grand Cuvée

The current release of Krug Grand Cuvée was served as an apéritif. It was wonderfully rich with a creaminess matched by bright acidity. It has the distinction of being the first Grand Cuvée to have the code (311032) on the back label which can be accessed on the Krug website www.krug.com. [4]

Lobster crudo, Dill, Watermelon Prosciutto
Duck and Teleggio Poppers
Pancetta Wrapped Bay Scallops, Banana Saffron Crema
Krug Clos du Mesnil 2000

The newly released 2000 Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs was wonderfully fresh with a nice crispness that was beautifully matched with this unusual and delicious assortment of appetizers. The lobster and dill with the sweetness of the watermelon and the savory saltiness of the prosciutto was wonderful with the fruitiness of the Clos du Mesnil while the duck and telleggio poppers were a match for the richness that is expressed in the wine. The last appetizer, pancetta wrapped bay scallops with banana crema, was brilliant and brought out all of the floral and citrus notes in the Clos du Mesnil which melded together seamlessly with the savory subtleness of the dish.

 Krug 013 [5]

Puzzone Fonduta
candied hazelnuts | orange confit | gingerbread arc
porcini curry
Krug Vintage 1998

This was an unusal dish that was as tasty as it was beautiful with the crispy gingerbread arched over the Fontina cheese accented with porcini curry and candied hazelnuts and orange confit. The savory sweetness of the dish with a delicate spice was beautifully matched with this 1998 Krug having a rich brioche character accented by hints of peach and spice and a nice citrus crispness.

Paine Farm Squab
breast & thigh “en roulade” | pain d’epice sauce
dried fruit condiment
Krug Vintage 2000

In Champagne, squab is a classic dish to be served with Champagne. However, it is not often done here. The rare Paine Farm squab was roasted with black truffle and sage under the skin and the jus flavored with marsala and star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. The richness and phenomenal depth of flavors in the 2000 Krug were a terrific complement to the savory spicy sweetness of this dish.

 Silver & Gold
ng risotto | white alba truffle
Krug Grand Cuvée

Truffles, black or white, and risotto, eggs, or pasta just happens to be some of my favorite foods to match with Krug Champagne. This Krug Grand Cuvée, based on the 2003 vintage, had all the richness and brioche and spice flavors to match perfectly with the parmesan, virgin olive oil, and butter Risotto enhanced by the savory flavors of the fresh sliced white truffle.

 Elyssian Fields Lamb Loin
pissaladiere tart | calabrian chili | balinese long pepper
Krug Rosé

This famous lamb, cooked sous vide then pan roasted and served with a Mediterranean tart of cured tomato puree accented with the flavors of the chili and a bit of sausage and anchovy, was complex and very flavorful. The gorgeous fruit of the Krug Rosé and the depth of flavor accented by just a faint underlying exotic spice was almost Burgundian in its flavors which were beautifully married with this dish.

Explorateur Brulee
orange blossom honey gelato | white truffle
Krug Collection 1989

Wow! This was one of the most unusual and best desserts I have ever tasted. Savory with a slight sweetness, the creamy richness of the Explorateur cheese was accented by a crisp brulée of orange blossom honey and unsweetened orange blossom gelato. And, to top it off were the wonderful rich and savory flavors of the fresh sliced white truffle. The Krug Collection 1989 with this dish was stunningly great. This recently disgorged Champagne shows the wonderful ripe fruit of the vintage and rich creamy brioche complexity which perfectly matched the flavors in the dish.

Krug Champagne Tasting Notes

Krug Grande Cuvee [6]

Krug Grand Cuvée
This Champagne is based on the 2004 vintage and is composed of 121 different wines from 12 different vintages going back to 1990. It was disgorged in the third quarter of 2011. The code number 311032 appears on the back label and all of the above information can be found by going to the Krug website www.krug.com [4]and entering the code. It was poured as an apéritif prior to the serving of the appetizers with the Krug Clos Du Mesnil 2000. It is light yellow in color and has a gorgeous perfume of citrus and spice with an underlying floral nuance. There is lots of rich spice tinged fruit with nice creaminess and a bright underlying crispness. This is a lovely Champagne that will certainly age beautifully for a very long period of time. And, now with the code dating on the label, it will be easy to track in the cellar – Outstanding Plus.      $139       3-n-half-yellow-stars [7]

 Krug Clos du Mesnil 2000
This Blanc de Blancs was first introduced with the 1979 vintage. Prior to the purchase by Krug, this four and a half vineyard in the grand cru village of Mesnil was owned by the Tarin sisters and known as the Clos Tarin. The Clos du Mesnils from Krug are very long lived (the 1979 is still drinking beautifully) and develop complexity and richness with age. This 2000 is gorgeous. Light yellow in color with a faint golden hue the wine has a great perfume with hints of citrus, baked bread, and a touch of minerality and spice. It has gorgeous fruit that is beautifully integrated with the floral spice notes and a faint creaminess. Just a baby, this Champagne will continue to evolve over many years – Exceptional.              $799              4-yellow-stars [8]

Krug Vintage 1998
This Champagne is the first since the 1981 that has more Chardonnay than any other grape in the blend. This 1998 is 45% Chardonnay, and the 1981 is 39%. It is light golden yellow in color and has a great spice, tinged perfume of baked bread with a faint honied citrus nuance. Rich and flavorful with a wonderful creaminess and honied, baked bread nuances accented by faint floral spice notes this Champagne is drinking beautifully now, but has a long life ahead – Outstanding Plus.           $219           3-n-half-yellow-stars [7]

2000 Krug champagne [9]

Krug Vintage 2000
This 2000 is now being released and is being sold along with the 1998. This is part of the new Krug policy to have 2 different vintages on the market at the same time. This 2000 is absolutely stunning and seems destined to be one of the all time great Krug vintages. The year 2000 was a low production, concentrated vintage. Light yellow gold in color, the wine has a perfume that is redolent of floral, citrus and spice notes with hints of minerality. Very flavorful with great structure and balance, there is intense fruit with underlying floral, mineral and spice notes melded into a creamy richness. The length on the palate is also very impressive and is enhanced by a lovely underlying crispness. While very enjoyable now, age will only enhance the attributes of this great Champagne – Exceptional Plus.      $219    4-n-half-yellow-stars [10]  

Krug Grand Cuvée
This cuvée is based on the 2003 and was disgorged in the second quarter of 2010. The oldest vintage in the blend is the 1988 and the youngest 1996. The cork is branded V1021. This was the last Grand Cuvée bottled before the decision was made to include lot numbers on the label. It is really a gorgeous Champagne with the richness of the 2003 vintage balanced by the other vintages in the blend such as the higher acid years of 1988 and 1996. Light golden yellow in color, the wine has a stunning perfume that has faint spice tinged honied tropical notes. It is rich and creamy with lots of depth and richness and citrus and spice tinged brioche flavors with a faint underlying honied quality. Irresistible now, this is a Champagne that still will keep for many years – Exceptional.          $139          4-yellow-stars [8]

Krug brut rose champagne [11]

Krug Rosé
This rosé is based on wine from the 2005 vintage and was disgorged in the fall of 2011. A portion of red wine from Ay was used for color and rosé flavor. And, like the latest release of Krug Grand Cuvée, the code number 311030 appears on the back label, and information about the wine can be found by going to the Krug website www.krug.com [4]and entering the code. This is one of the very greatest young Rosé Champagnes I have ever experienced, and it will be fascinating to see the evolution over the next 10 to 20 years. Pale salmon pink in color, the wine has a stunning perfume with very subtle floral citrus tinges and hints of exotic spice and raspberry. It is very elegant yet with a focus and intensity that offers complex and beautifully integrated flavors of cherry and raspberry with floral spice notes and a very faintly exotic nuance. The finish is very long and expansive and has a beautifully balanced crispness. This is simply glorious – Exceptional Plus.           $279       4-n-half-yellow-stars [10]

Krug Collection 1989
The 1989 Krug is a very rich, full bodied Champagne. The wine was initially released prior to the 1988 which evolved more slowly. This freshly disgorged bottling is light golden in color and has a perfume that shows brioche and spice with hints of tropical fruit. It is intensely fruity with a wonderful creaminess and a brioche spice complexity backed by a long lingering finish – Exceptional.          $499          4-yellow-stars [8]

What a memorable evening. This can only be described as an experience every wine and food lover dreams about!