Represented by Olivier Krug
Undoubtedly one of the most renowned houses in champagne, Krug is considered by many to be the very greatest of them all. It was founded in 1843 by Joseph Krug, a German emigré who had previously worked for Jacquesson, and who had even been a partner in that firm. He decided, however, to strike out on his own, beginning a legacy that has now stretched down through six generations.
Krug owns 20 hectares of vines, ten in the Côte des Blancs and ten in the southern portion of the Montagne de Reims. These vineyards account for roughly a third of the house’s total needs, with the remainder purchased through long-term contracts. Many of Krug’s sources have been supplying them with grapes for decades: for example, Krug has famously been purchasing meunier from the cooperative in Leuvrigny since 1929, and these grapes form an important part of their blend.
All of Krug’s base wines are selected and fermented individually, plot by plot. The individuality continues with the separate conservation of each wine featured in Krug’s impressive repertoire of some 150 reserve wines. There are wines from 10 to 12 different vintages, some of which may reach up to 15 years of age. The wines are kept in small vats, allowing aromas and flavors to be preserved for long periods of time. This is a key element, which allows Chef de Caves Eric Lebel to compose Krug Champagnes year after year.
Concerning the malolactic fermentation, it’s neither encouraged nor prevented here: in the past it was widely believed that Krug’s wines didn’t go through malo, but on a visit to the house several years ago, Rémi Krug told me that they have since found out that the malo sometimes occurs in the reserve tanks, though never in barrel. They don’t see it as important, anyway. “We don’t care,” said Rémi. “Each wine does what it wants, on its own time and in its own way.”
Krug is meticulous about keeping a collection of base wines that is both extremely diverse and of individual personality. “We are not interested in pinot noir or chardonnay or meunier,” says Olivier Krug. “We are interested in wines of origin. We are interested in the Aÿ from Maurice or the Ambonnay grown by Jean-François—we know these parcels, we know these people, and we keep the identities of these wines separate with our fermentation in barrel.” The house is famous for its vast stocks of reserve wines, and a portion of these will be combined each year with a selection of the 200 to 250 different wines from the most recent harvest. “We have around 350 wines to taste, and about six or seven people taste them,” says Krug. “We taste these wines two or three times, so at the end you might have six or seven thousand ratings. So it’s not very scientific.” In the end, the selection can be based on feeling and experience as much as anything else, which is why the palate memory of older members of the group is so valuable. “There are no rules,” he says. “It’s a completely artistic process.”
Information courtesy of Peter Liem's ChampagneGuide.net ©