Craftsmanship meets philosophy
Depending on the talents and intuitions of a precious few, Krug's obsessive approach to details is the key characteristic of its savoir-faire which is based on three principles: - the individual selection of the plots and the careful following of each wine, - the art of blending and the creation of Champagnes by Krug’s Chef de Caves Eric Lebel and the Tasting Committee, and - the essential mastering of time, stretched to an unfashionably slow pace.
It continues with the vinification of the grapes coming from each plot in separate oak casks. Contrary to popular belief, this is not to lend a woody, tanin or vanilla flavour; oak casks are neutral and Krug vins clairs, or base wines, do not age in oak casks - they are simply born there. They spend a few weeks in these casks just after the grape harvest. During this very short but decisive period, the small volume of these casks gives the still wine the freedom to develop its character and maintains each wine’s individuality. This is vital for creating the blend. These special conditions present at the Champagne’s genesis multiplies rewards later, increasing the Champagne's high ageing potential, enhancing its freshness.
Lastly, its 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 flavours to be preserved for long periods of time. This is a key element, which allows Eric Lebel to compose Krug Champagnes year after year.
Eric Lebel works closely with the other members of the Tasting Committee. These include: Julie Cavil, Director of Winemaking Operations, Olivier Krug, sixth generation of the Krug family and Director of the House of Krug, Laurent Halbin, Winemaking Operations Manager, Jerôme Jacoillot, Winemaking Development Manager, Alice Tétienne, Winemaker in charge of vineyard relations, and Isabelle Bui, Winemaker in charge of quality. Margareth Henriquez, President and CEO, House of Krug, and Rémi Krug, fifth generation of the Krug family, are permanent guests of this council of the wise.
At the end of April or the beginning of May, during the burst of creation, Eric Lebel composes the year’s Champagnes, guided by his intuition and talent. On the strength of the teamwork carried out with the Tasting Committee, he proposes three blends to re-create Krug Grande Cuvée. Of these, one is chosen and blended only once. This is the most important time of the year at Krug. Eric Lebel and the Committee also decide to create a Krug Vintage when they sense an interesting personality in that year’s wines during the tasting sessions, believing that Krug lovers will appreciate this tale of the year narrated and signed by Krug.
Patience to perfection
The notion of time at Krug is different - take for example the oak casks. In addition to the 200 years needed to obtain a finely grained oak of high quality, due to the slow rate of growth in Haute Futaie, Krug requires that its coopers season the wood for a minimum of three years, in the open air, without the use of artificial acceleration techniques and without making any compromises.
Time’s ultimate contribution is in giving Krug Champagnes their unique fullness and elegance,
Patience, that most unyielding of tests, is priceless here. Time reveals those fine bubbles, sculpts the Champagne’s volume, unfurls its length, affirms its longevity and proves its unparalleled quality. Without this radical, uncompromising stance, it would be impossible to achieve the excellence of Krug Champagnes.
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