Olivier Krug has admitted that LVMH-owned Champagne house Krug is not striving for consistency in style.
Olivier Krug is not seeking consistency
Speaking at the launch of the 2003 vintage of Krug’s single vineyard brut blanc de blancs, Clos du Mesnil in London last Friday, Krug spoke to the drinks business about his philosophy for Krug’s multi vintage blend and flagship fizz, Grand Cuvée:
“At Krug, we’re not about consistency but generosity. We don’t work to a rulebook or a formula and want to celebrate the differences from year to year.
“If you taste two bottles of Krug Grand Cuvée side by side, they will taste different.”
Just 8,671 bottles and 659 magnums of Clos du Mesnil go on sale in Krug’s key export markets around the world, with the release being staggered over two years.
“Clos du Mesnil is the purest expression of Chardonnay and could be said to be the first grower Champagne. I always joke that it’s the easiest Krug to make as it’s a solo act,” Krug said.
“Japan is our biggest market for Clos du Mesnil – they view it as a diamond,” he added.
Krug admitted that the 2003 vintage of Clos du Mesnil doesn’t have the “vivacity” of either the 1996 or the 2000 vintages.
“Given the heat of the vintage, people are surprised that we even made a 2003, but the big surprise is the freshness. The terroir really comes through, it’s still very young to be honest but there’s a flintiness and a creaminess to it,” he said.
In 1971, the Krug family bought the 1.84-hectare walled grand cru vineyard, producing the first vintage of Clos du Mesnil eight years later in 1979, which was first released in 1986.
“At first, my father Henri wasn’t keen on the idea at first of making a grower Champagne from a single grape from a single site,” Krug revealed.
“We don’t make Clos du Mesnil every year, and in the years we don’t the grapes go into our Grande Cuvée,” he added.
In 2012, the house made the dramatic decision of not releasing the 1999 vintage of Clos du Mesnil, despite having disgorged and labelled the bottles.
Krug’s cellar master, Eric Lebel, decided to pull the plug on the sale of the 1999 vintage as it was not performing at the level he expected at the time of release.
Both “shy in expression” and lacking character, at the time Lebel believed the wine wasn’t a true expression of Clos du Mesnil.
Krug admitted that the bottles had not yet been returned to stainless steel tanks to be used in the house’s reserve wines and that the idea of releasing it one day hadn’t been completely ruled out.
“We’re keeping the 1999 bottles as a historic record. If we do decided to release it one day it will have to be marvelous,” he told db.
Krug revealed that domestic sales of Krug in June were double that of last year, a phenomenon he is putting down to sharing the story of Krug Grand Cuvée.
As for the 2014 vintage, Krug’s early predictions are that it is looking “very promising”, with the house having dodged both vine disease and hail.
Finally, Krug told db that he was trawling Instagram for pictures of people drinking Krug from Champagne flutes in order to try to stop the practice.
“Champagne should never be drunk out of a flute – I’m chasing people on Instagram who drink Krug from flutes and asking them why they do it,” he said.