Everything You Need to Know about Krug Champagne


Everything You Need to Know about Krug Champagne

Wine Team New York |

For many of us, there’s one wine we associate with the most special moments: Krug Champagne.

Sotheby’s serves Krug Grande Cuvée at many of our preauction dinners, and it’s the wine I most often recommend to clients looking for last-minute gifts. I’ve enjoyed it with long Sunday lunches or paired with both paella and cigars. I associate Krug Vintage with fine Burgundy dinners. In fact, it seems that most dinners accompanied by serious wine begin with a bottle. And I think of Krug Collection as the perfect champagne for very special occasions. I had it once – a 1971 magnum for my friend’s 40th birthday, served to preface a lineup of red Burgundy from the same year. I’ve tried Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs and Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs on a few occasions, both as meal pairings that cemented Krug’s storied reputation. It is as much a wine lover’s champagne as it is one for enjoying with food.

In 1843, Joseph Krug established the House of Krug in Reims. He believed a great Champagne house should produce cuvées that are both nonvintage (a champagne blended to deliver the best expression year after year) and vintage (a champagne that reflects the conditions of each year). All cuvées should be equal, he argued – treated not as hierarchies, but as different expressions. These notions made him a visionary and have continued to inspire the house throughout the decades. Today, Krug is equally cherished by those who praise tradition and those who praise innovation.

Maison Krug owns 21 hectares, supplementing the rest with grapes from local growers, some of whom the family has worked with from the start. To promote aging, Maison Krug picks grapes with more acidity and less sugar. The wine is vinified in 205-liter oak barrels that are on average 20 years old. They do not stop malolactic fermentation if it occurs, but nor do they start it. After fermentation, the wine goes into tanks to promote freshness, and it’s then aged for at least seven years in the case of Grande Cuvée and more than ten years for the Vintage. The process results in a big, rich style that often shows acidity in its youth and benefits from age.

Krug Grande Cuvée

The inspiration for Krug Grande Cuvée came from Joseph Krug himself. He wanted to create an outstanding champagne every year, regardless of changes in climate or grape-growing conditions. Grande Cuvée begins with a base of more than 50% wine from that year, which is blended with more than 120 wines from 10 different years and then aged for approximately seven years before release.

The idea of blending years was quite unique and special at the time, and Maison Krug continues to lead the way today. Nonvintage champagnes are generally held to a lower caliber than vintage champagnes. That’s not the case with Maison Krug, where the meticulous tasting and blending process, as well as the high quality of the vineyards, means their Grande Cuvée rivals even its vintage counterparts.

Over the last decade, Maison Krug has introduced innovative labeling to provide more information about the blend in each bottle. In 2011 they began identifying the base wine with a code that could be entered into their website. In 2016 they started including an edition number on the front of each bottle, and now an ID on the back enables the purchaser to read unique information about their wine.

Krug Rosé

The fifth generation of the Krug family, Henri and Rémi Krug, brought us Krug Rosé with the 1976 harvest, released in 1983. In concept, Krug Rosé is quite similar to Grande Cuvée in that it’s designed to be an outstanding rosé champagne regardless of changes in climate and growing conditions. Also like Grande Cuvée, bottles of Krug Rosé are labeled in editions.

Krug Vintage

Krug Vintage Champagne aims to express the utmost character of the vintage, and so it’s made only in the best years. Each plot is individually tasted. Then, if they’re deemed to be the best expression of their vintage, the wines are blended and aged for a minimum of 10 years. 

Krug Collection

Maison Krug preserves a limited number of bottles in their cellars to showcase their age-worthy character. They’re tasted regularly until, after approximately 20 years, they receive their cork as part of Krug Collection. Perfectly aged, these bottles are quite special.

Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs

The Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay grapes grown in a special, single-walled, 1.8-hectare vineyard located in the grand cru of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. It was purchased by Rémi and Henri Krug along with 14 other nearby plots in 1971. Initially these Chardonnay grapes were blended, but in 1979, after observing the high quality of the wine from the plot called Clos du Mesnil, Masion Krug decided to bottle it separately. Thus the first Krug Clos du Mesnil was made in 1979 and released in 1986.

While most champagne houses at the time were focused on blending, Maison Krug took a bold step by making champagne with one single grape from one single plot. Today, many winemakers are moving in this direction, especially among grower champagnes and others who focus on expressing terroir – an idea Krug anticipated decades earlier.

Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs

The Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs is made from pinot noir grapes grown in a small, 0.68-hectare, walled plot in the village of Ambonnay, which is known for producing the best pinot noir in Champagne. Rémi and Henri found this plot in 1991, and Maison Krug purchased it in 1994. A year later came the first vintage of this champagne, which was kept a secret until its release in 2007.

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