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Features 2 minutes 28 June 2018

House Of Krug Keeps Its Promise Of Delivering A Full Expression

Despite the different challenges the champagne-maker faces every year, it has kept up the tradition of producing a prestige cuvée annually for 170 years.

drinks champagne appreciation

For Olivier Krug (follow him on Instagram @krugoli), director of the House of Krug and the sixth generation of the family, the single most important endeavour is to honour the dream of his great-great-great-grandfather Joseph Krug, who founded the great house in 1843. Year after year, the renowned champagne maker produces a full expression, each one unique.

“We rolled out the 163rd edition in 2016. Every year, we create a champagne that does not exist, a champagne that reaches the fullest expression of champagne. And we remain not to be copied after 170 years. Like a dream. We do not rely on a good harvest or a good plot. Krug is the only champagne that has a prestige cuvée every year, since the beginning.”
Krug "Grande Cuvée" 163 Ème Édition Brut Champagne
Krug "Grande Cuvée" 163 Ème Édition Brut Champagne
It appears that for this descendant of the Krug family, every year is a dream and one that will come true, made possible with a new crop, better-than-ever quality and even new challenges.

Speaking specifically of the challenges faced in 2016, he says: “[It] was a nightmare that turned out fabulous. Paris was underwater in June. I was born in Paris and, in my lifetime, I have only seen it twice underwater and this was something rare in summer. It was dreadful. Then in August, there was a heatwave that burnt the grapes, but we saved the harvest.”

The lesson gleaned through the years would be that of “patience … and modesty, because nature will decide. And this is something special at Krug — you do things that you might not have done. You learn to do things with self confidence and you learn not to take yourself too seriously, because you have done the job.”

The cycle or process repeats after each bottle is made.
Olivier Krug in a vineyard
Olivier Krug in a vineyard
“We talk about every year just as if it were the same. But they are never the same. It’s always a new addition, a new expression, based on completely different structure.”

With a different set of elements in play every year, Krug seeks to reach a fullest expression each time. The fullest expression, as he deems, is a multicoloured Krug champagne, delivering an explosion of flavours, a firework of emotions and sensations.

“It is never technical, not even about balance. It is about a moving expression and one that is the fullest a champagne can reach. Joseph, in his diary that he left us, has this to say in the first line, which is, never compromise on the quality, and there is no hierarchy in his champagnes.”
Olivier Krug (Native) [MHISWF097970 Revision-1].jpg
About five to six years ago, the idea of giving transparency to what goes into any Krug bottle’s full expression arose. And today, you can download the Krug App and be informed of everything you need to know about that particular bottle.

“It’s another dimension that we have added. Every Krug bottle now has an ID attached to it and Krug lovers can tell how different it is to another bottle. The world has changed and people want to know. So we open up everything and, till now, we are the benchmark of transparency amongst the great houses.”
As part of the tasting committee, he was one of those who initially opposed strongly to opening up, adding: “I used to believe that what the cellar master does should remain a mystery.” But he admits now that he is a fan.

The app has been going strong now for four years. Other than French, it is available in Italian, German, Spanish, English and Japanese.

A Sensorial Experience

Japan is currently one of Krug’s biggest markets and he was sent there by his father when he was 23.

“My father decided that that was the best way to learn — to learn from the market directly, to meet people. And I realised selling champagne is not about selling technicalities. For the Japanese, it was about the sensorial touches.”

To evoke these sensorial reactions, the app suggests pairing tips and music pieces that goes best with each bottle.

“It’s always intense, always rich. You get everything. The yuzu, the ginger, then honey, vanilla, spice, fruits — Krug never ends. You get the fullness. This was Joseph’s dream and, for 163 editions, we have been hard at work on this. But we believe this is what Joseph forgot to say.”
Krug's cellar master Eric Leibel
Krug's cellar master Eric Leibel
The Passage Of Time

The 50-year-old does not remember his first taste of Krug, as “Krug was already on my lips the moment I was born”. Growing up, he spent most of his time next to the Krug cellars in Reims or his father’s office, where no one was allowed to disturb him working.

“But I tell you, I played football and rode bicycles in there,” he says.

These memories are still vivid, just like the bottles that have been in the cellar for 25 years, but still taste young.

Ask him about the work of cellar master Eric Leibel and his mastery over the fullest expression that can be had in a bottle of champagne, and he is quick to point out that, any full and rounded expression can only be achieved with time.

And time is luxury.

“Indeed, and luxury starts with love. You should only give to people what you love to keep.”

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