I wasn't sure what to expect going to krug, but I figured it would be great, and the team at Krug put on quite a show for me. They offered me wonderful hospitality, yet they weren't stuffy or overly formal. It was a very pleasant day. It started off with a reception and a glass of Grande Cuvėe, which was quite welcome as I was fighting off a minor hangover. After a brief discussion, we hopped in the car and went to Ambonnay for a tour of Clos d'Ambonnay and the press facility there. The whole team was excited about this because the don't get to go to this vineyard very often, so it was a treat for us all. Along the way I learned some interesting facts about Krug and champagne as a whole that I didn't know: There are 275,000 different parcels of vines in Champagne! There are 19,000 growers. For the Grande Cuvėe Krug makes 305 different wines, and ultimately uses 100-150 for the final blend. Clos du Mesnil is only 1.8 ha, about the same size as Romanėe Conti in burgundy. Within this walled vineyard, they've isolated 5 distinct parcels, depending on proximity to the walls, air flow, etc. Clos d' Ambonnay is 3 times smaller with only .6 ha, and only 2 distinct parcels. This translates to only 20 barrels of wine, or 3000-4000 bottles when they decide to make this wine. This limited quantity is their reason for the high cost of this wine.
The Clos d'Ambonnay was tiny, I've seen backyards that are bigger. The vines arent super old, being planted in the 1980's but are certainly reaching the necessary maturity to produce wines of such a high caliber. It was pretty cool to see all 20 barrels of CdA in front of me in the press house, however if they decide to declare 2013 a CdA vintage, we won't see it until around 2025. Crazy.
Back at the main facility in Reims, we went for a quick tour seeing the library reserves as well as vault of all the old vintages of Krug. Pretty cool, but a big tease as the same time. Finally we headed to the elegant yet understated tasting room, where 3 empty glasses were ready for us. They took me through the star to the galaxy tasting as they call it, but added a twist and wonderful birthday surprise of starting with the Clos d' Ambonnay 1998! Clos d'Ambonnay 1998 - shame this wine was just opened, because it feels like so much more will be going on in 1-2 hours. Regardless, this wine is pretty incredible. It had a powerful and complex nose that continued to evolve, highlights included coffee, raisins, saline, minerality, along with lots freshness. The palate was also quite complex and a dichotomy between aged flavors and youthful ones. Very elegant, but still a baby. This wine was meant to be a single point in the "Krug galaxy" one vineyard, one vintage. The hospitality team was quite excited to open this wine, and all of them could only remember having once or twice in the past. Millėsime 1998 - More open that at my tasting in December lots of length with fascinating fruit tones - cherry, apricot, lemon, orange marmalade, along with coffee and roasted nuts. Nice chalkiness too. This wine is the mid point in the galaxy showing just one vintage but many terriors. Grande Cuvėe - the whole of the galaxy, and the absolute focus of the house, it's designed to show many terriors and many vintages uniting into one harmonious wine. I am gaining a better understanding and appreciation that this wine is the most important wine to them and should represent the best of the house. I'm still not entirely convinced it's their best wine, but it was great to understand their commitment to that goal and how the work towards it. Rather inspiring to have a such a direction and to constantly work toward that. Overall, Krug was an amazing experience. And I'm beginning to see that wineries, like collectors, enjoy bringing out the good stuff when there are guests that will truly appreciate it.