We were delighted to welcome Olivier Krug to our offices last week for an eye-opening tasting of some of his wines. Olivier spends much of his time pressing the flesh: few do it with such knowledge and with such genuine enthusiasm.
There is an insiders’ secret about Krug. Simple, yet true. And something I’ve always believed. The general perception is that vintage Krug must be superior to the Grande Cuvee - it’s more expensive for a start. The Krug line on this is that the two wines are equals, and that vintage Krug, when made, is simply the Krug story of a particular year. The truth is, in my opinion, that Grande Cuvee is the superior wine. Olivier gave us the chance to see for ourselves with three different bottles.
Krug Grande Cuvee (ID: 114003)
This is the current release, and is based on the 2006 vintage. To put the amount of work involved in creating Grande Cuvee into perspective, this Grande Cuvee is made up from 142 different wines from 11 different vintages, the oldest being 1990. Olivier’s take on this was: “you want to know why Grande Cuvee is expensive? It takes 25 years to make it…” Which is a good point, well made.
Whilst eminently drinkable now – and Krug is made to be drunk, not sprayed off the back of a yacht – this does have a freshness and a liveliness that one associates with young wine or, rather, a wine with a long life ahead of it. A significant proportion of the room, though less than half, preferred this to our second bottle of Grand Cuvee.
The 2003 vintage is one that throws up all sorts of wonders throughout France and, in theory, should be decent at best. In practice, 2003 Krug is a winner. Ripe and gamey, yet still unbelievably fresh, and an almost red wine-like character to its complexity, this is a very special wine. Quite, quite lovely and an absolute treat.
Krug Grande Cuvee (ID: 211021)
No longer available to buy on its own, this is the Grande Cuvee based on the 2003 vintage.
Compare this to the first bottle of Grande Cuvee and the difference is clear: this is meatier, with a touch of maturity. Whilst much of the room preferred the freshness of the first bottle, this one was the winner: this is a very “vinous” Champagne. Hugely impressive.
Compare this to the 2003 vintage and things get more interesting. This is not the first time that I have performed this experiment and the best way that I can describe it is this: when you taste the two side by side the vintage always seems to be missing something; the Grande Cuvee is the more complete of the two wines and the vintage seems like an exceptional dish which, while wanting for nothing, is improved with a little seasoning. The Grande Cuvee is the vintage but with the seasoning. Or, vintage Krug is eggs; Grande Cuvee is eggs and bacon.
You can find the current release of Krug Grande Cuvee here and the 2003 vintage here. If you want to compare it to the older release of Krug Grande Cuvee, based on the 2003 vintage then you can do so with the Krug 'Les Creations' Collection Case.
Director of Fine Wine