I don’t know anyone who is quite like Maggie Henriquez, the dynamic CEO of Champagne Krug. In the five years she has been at the helm of Krug, she has been a revolutionary of communication and a stalwart defender of tradition on the production side. Last night I had a chance to taste the great Champagne of Krug with her. It was a giant honor and a huge pleasure.
When Krug was purchased by LVMH (owner of Veuve-Clicquot, Moet, Ruinart & Mercier as well as Louis Vuitton and too many luxury fashion brands to list) many of us Champagne lovers were petrified. Krug is Champagnes’ Chateau Latour, DRC and it d’Yquem, and has more than 150 years of producing some of the best wine in France. I was one among many who was concerned that this international conglomerate would exploit the reputation and dilute the quality. Thankfully with Maggie in charge, nothing could be further from the case.
Since she has taken over the wines are showing better than ever. Her revolutionary contribution has been to open up the house of Krug to the wine lover with the most thorough communication of any grand marque. She has pioneered Krug ID, a code on the back of every current release bottle that you can look up on their website, or better yet their mobile ap, that will tell you everything you want to know about what is inside the bottle. This is particularly interesting for the Grand Cuvee and the Rose, as the story of the wine is so compelling.
We started the evening with the Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne $149.99, Krug ID# 213032, which is based on 2006, but has reserves dating back to 1990. This wine is composed of 44% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier and is the product of 11 different vintages in Champagne. Why would anybody go to such trouble and expense, saving and later expertly blending 142 separate wines and then keep it a secret? In the past, I always loved the taste of Krug Grand Cuvee, but now it is clear why I love it, it is the product of an incredible effort by an immensely talented team. This bottle had the vinous authority up front that Krug is famous for, but scintillating minerality and refreshment on the long finish… A great way to start the night!
She spoke at length about the vision of the founder, Joseph Krug in creating only two great wines. One, the Grand Cuvee that would be consistent, and another, the vintage, that would be from circumstance. I think that it is inspiring that Maggie has lead her team to keep up the consistency of greatness, but also realized that each of the blends are a little bit different in personality, and the new system of ID’s allow us, the Champagne lovers discover those differences. Luckily, the Krug family has expanded the range past the two original wines- now there is more to enjoy.
We continued our evening with the 2000 Krug Brut Champagne ($229) which seems to get younger each time I try it. This was by far the raciest, most elegant bottle of this wine that I have had and showed focus and length that I would associate with a vintage like 1988. I think it has an incredible future. After that, we were treated to a nutty, almost walnut bread like bottle of the 1990- it is hard to believe that the wine is now 24 years old.
The final wine of the night was the Krug Brut Rosé Champagne ($279) and it was my favorite of an incredibly good group. Maggie told the story of Remi and Henri Krug making the wine in secret in 1976 when the opportunity to make some very ripe Pinot Noir as a red wine in Ay presented itself. They didn’t tell their father until it was ready in 1984, and presented it to him blind. He told them that the family had a problem: someone is copying Krug! When they told him that they had made it, he reversed his position on “vulgar rose” and gave them his blessing. The batch we tasted was based on 2006 with reserves going back to 2000 and composed of 59% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 23% Meunier. It had an incredible tension between powerful, Vosne Romanee like black fruit and savor and bright white chalky drive. Somehow it was all brought into balance. What a bottle!
Krug is an expensive wine, but I hope that when the time is right, every Champagne lover experiences it. It is worth saving up for.
A toast to you!