Wine and Spirits Magazine just named Krug Grande Cuvée Brut the single most popular sparkling wine in restaurants across the United States. The Grande Cuvée was first made in 1844. Now in its 166th Edition, Krug swept the honors from previous years’ winners including Veuve Clicquot and Billecart-Salmon. It is not surprising the Krug Grande Cuvée got this esteemed recognition. What is surprising is its quiet resolve to be one of the finest Champagnes on the market without ever deviating from its founder’s vision.
Outstanding Champagne is steeped in history and pivotal moments. While Krug Champagne has been in existence for over 170 years, the brand has created a significant differentiation in its approach to Champagne. Taste, exceptional quality, and a delicate yet bountiful perlage are the cornerstones of Krug. But also a pedigree that is traceable down to the vineyards and vintages used in its Cuvée. Krug on its own grows 40% of the grapes used to make their Grande Cuvée. The rest is hand-selected from growers in the region who have been meticulously culled over the years to lend to Krug that oh so key differentiating factor.
What makes Krug so different? The history and commitment to quality that was handed down from the founder, Joseph Krug. He began his career in Champagne at Jacquesson where he became a partner early on. He founded the House of Krug in 1843. The vision was to create a Champagne with consistent quality, not depending on a single year vintage. Krug had seen the ups and downs of good seasons and bad in the region and wanted to maintain the highest level of consistency. This genius led to a ritual of tasting wines from vineyard to vineyard and not blending until he first had a large reserve of these vineyard lots separated. The wine would remain separated until the time to blend or assemblage. This would prevent the House of Krug Champagne from being subject to the whims of Mother Nature and provide more consistency from year to year.
Growers have always augmented the production of Krug’s Champagne. Many of the grower relationships have been in existence for several generations. The size of the grower’s vineyard was not as important as the terroir and the quality of the grapes. Low yields were looked at as a premium. Krug uses old oak for their fermentation. No malolactic is induced. Another big differentiator is in how they blend and evaluate. Blending occurs over a period of five solid months and undergoes hundreds, perhaps even thousands of tastes before a Cuvée is ever released.
Some question the value proposition of a Cuvée. Krug knows it all too well. They assign an ID number to each of their Cuvée. This enables you to go to their website and search for the DNA of that specific bottle. The bottle I tasted had ID number 117006. I was terribly curious about the origins of the Cuvée and how much information would be revealed. I went to the website and put the number in. What I found was 140 different wines went into my Cuvée. The oldest vintage was 1998, the youngest was 2010. I even learned when it received its cork (Winter 2017). Pretty impressive.
I asked Maggie Hernandez, the CEO of Krug about Champagne as a celebratory drink versus playing a part in every day living and got this:
Pleasure. It’s one of the most enjoyable states of mind we can experience. Add great company, a compelling topic, excellent wine and you’ve got the winning ingredients of a perfect evening or celebration. It’s also one of the key building blocks of the Krug brand. Their Cuvée is an exciting opportunity to taste a blend of the best of many vintages. This way flavor and aromas come through to give you a taste of time in history.
Tasting Notes: The delicate and refined bubbles are the first thing I noticed about the Champagne. This is a company that takes it’s time and only releases the Cuvée after a period of 10 years. Fragrant white blossoms greet the nose, with a bit of citrus and spice. The palate is exquisite. Creamy, with a mild nutty nuance and lemon. This is a wine you can buy and hold. It ages quite well. But, why wait?
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