Throughout the year, we organise an array of champagne tastings based around different themes – from our comprehensive range tastings to more formal masterclasses – which typically encompass comparisons of anything from vintages, brands, size formats and styles. Of the different themes, our Krug Experiences have consistently proven one of our most popular and have consequently become a fixed feature in our annual tasting calendar.
Our most recent celebration of this most famously prestige effervescence was hosted by Essi Avellan MW at 67 Pall Mall last month. Guests were served five Krug Grande Cuvées, 166th to 161st Editions (base vintages 2010 to 2005); and seven Krug Vintages, 2006 to 1995. In addition, four of these champagnes were served from magnum, making it a simply unmissable evening – Krug fanatic or not.
Our thanks to Jack, Krug’s London-based Brand Manager for providing our fantastic welcome drink – the latest release of their non-vintage, Krug Grande Cuvée 167th Edition NV.
“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” – Olivier Krug
Krug Grande Cuvée
Grande Cuvée is not your average non-vintage. Priced at a similar level to the prestige cuvées of many other major champagne houses, it is a prestige cuvée in its own right. Like other non-vintages, Grande Cuvée consists of wine from several years: a base vintage (the youngest and majority part in the blend) and reserve wines from older vintages. Amongst the many things that make Grande Cuvée unique is that the proportion of reserve wines is unusually high (typically 30-50%) and the reserve wines are unusually old (the youngest Edition in this tasting, 166 (the 2010 base), features reserve wine from 1998).
Given the typically high percentage of reserve wines from such old vintages, Krug manage to produce a very consistent style and quality with Grande Cuvée each year. However, with 50-70% of the blend coming from one base vintage, each Edition inevitably displays subtle differences that showcase the characteristics of that year.
In late 2016, Krug began numbering each Grande Cuvée blend to promote the individuality of each creation and allow the ageing capacity and potential complexity of Grande Cuvée to be understood. Now that Grande Cuvée displays its Edition on the label, the famous non-vintage can be fully appreciated as a series of difference releases – which can now be easily compared, explored and endlessly discussed!
The next step-up in quality level is vintage champagne, Again, where at most houses the vintage category champagnes situate themselves above the brut non-vintage, but below the top prestige cuvée range, at Krug the distinction is obsolete. Their vintage champagnes reveal the unique characteristics of each year; expert blends of expressive wines enhanced by more than ten years of maturity in the cellars, named to reflect their individual identities: Krug 2000 ‘Stormy Indulgence’; Krug 2002 ‘Ode to Nature’; Krug 2003 ‘Vivacious Radiance’; Krug 2004 ‘Luminous Freshness’; and Krug 2006 ‘Capricious Indulgence’.
The potential for a Krug vintage champagne is identified during the blending of Krug Grande Cuvée. Once the non-vintage blend has been secured and all of the reserves earmarked, the wines displaying the most pronounced character of the vintage are blended to create the vintage champagne. This tasting will highlight six vintages of Krug, including 2000 in both bottle and magnum; 2002, one of the greatest ever; and a magnum of 1995, newly “late released” and extraordinarily scarce.
The champagnes were tasted blind and are listed below in the order tasted on the evening. Tasting notes and scores are Nick’s from The Finest Bubble. Guests live scored each champagne using our smartphone app and the group average scores are presented in the table of ranking below our tasting notes.
|Krug Grande Cuvée 163rd Edition NV | 19/20 | Avg Score: 18.1/20
Krug ID: 315048 | 37% PN, 32% CH, 31% PM | Base Vintage: 2007 | Reserve Wine: 27% | Lees Ageing: 7 Years | Disgorged: Summer 2015 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 4 Years
Starts a little tight on the nose, quite cold, the mandarin orange is coming forward, seems to be quite young, the palate shows plenty of dark fruits like cherry and spicy black currants and then layers of dried fruits and roasted cashew nuts. This is really refreshing and has a lightness that dances on the palate, guessing a younger GC?
|Krug 2003 | 18/20 | Avg Score: 17.7/20
Krug ID: 214043 | 46% PN, 29% CH, 25% PM | Lees Ageing: 10 Years | Disgorged: Spring 2014 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 5 Years
Some developed notes on the nose, with red fruits and hints of lemon. Really great texture: seems younger on the palate, bright and fresh, guessing a vintage , cant detect older reserve wine notes, elegant to the finish and starting to get quite creamy.
|Krug 2006 | 19/20 | Avg Score: 18.1/20
Krug ID: 118014 | 48% PN, 35% CH, 17% PM | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: Winter 2018 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Initially I was picking up chalk and minerality which isn’t usually something I see in Krug as the dried fruits and lots of tropical notes tend to be more prominent; lots of pineapple and peach. Palate shows the red fruits, strawberries and blackcurrants, with real brightness hints of cranberry. Seem young and fresh, finishes slightly spicy and lifts up at the finish with hint of seaside character. A recent vintages, could be 06 or 04?
|Krug Grande Cuvée 161st Edition NV Magnum | 19.5/20 | Avg Score: 18.1/20
Krug ID: 315048 | 44% PN, 35% CH, 21% PM | Base Vintage: 2005 | Reserve Wine: 40% | Lees Ageing: 6 Years | Disgorged: Summer 2013 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 6 Years
This has those hints of beautiful creamy notes that develop 5+ years after disgorgement. Layers of dried fruits like pineapple and lemon, combined with smoky roasted cashews and hints of almonds. Refreshing and complex… an older GC?
|Krug Grande Cuvée 164th Edition NV | 18.5/20 | Avg Score: 17.7/20
Krug ID: 216016 | 48% PN, 35% CH, 17% PM | Base Vintage: 2008 | Reserve Wine: 38% | Lees Ageing: 7 Years | Disgorged: January 2016 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 3 Years
Lots of lemons, apricots and richness on the palate, though muted as too cold right now. Has quite a roundness and lots of lees character, honey and lots of dried fruits and orange, with a real freshness to the acidity. Could this be 2008 base? On re-taste, it has opened up and become more rich, a great champagne.
|Krug 2000 Magnum | 19+/20 | Avg Score: 18.7/20
Krug ID: 115008 | 42% PN, 43% CH, 15% PM | Lees Ageing: 14 Years | Disgorged: Winter 2015 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 4 Years
Big powerful nose with suggestion of some age, a ripe year? Lots of dried fruit, hints of marzipan and wow what a lovely mouth-feel! All the acidity, depth and loveliness is there and the length goes on and on. Acidity, peaches and cream and just so much nut flavour. Assume this is a magnum, texturally great, 1998?
|Krug Grande Cuvée 165th Edition NV | 19/20 | Avg Score: 18.2/20
Krug ID: 416036 | 45% PN, 39% CH, 16% PM | Base Vintage: 2009 | Reserve Wine: 31% | Lees Ageing: 6 Years | Disgorged: Autumn 2016 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 3 Years
This has youthful character, but also has some notes that suggest age, is this a young GC? Lots of lemons & ripe apples with hints of spice and I like the lees texture, freshness and good weight of fruit, peaches and dried pineapple. Very good. 165 or 166?
|Krug 2004 | 19.5/20 | Avg Score: 18.0/20
Krug ID: 214041 | 37% PN, 39% CH, 24% PM | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: Spring 2016 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 3 Years
The citrus especially the orange notes are quite dominant and as it warms the dried fruits and smoked nuts start to shine. There is suggestions it has some bottle age, bit of the creamy character starting to show and hints of buttery character, almost coconut. It finishes fresh with a saline hint really reminding you of the seaside. Really refreshing champagne. Not sure is it 02?
|Krug 1998 Magnum | 20/20 | Avg Score: 18.6/20
Krug ID: 112005 | 37% PN, 47% CH, 16% PM | Lees Ageing: 8 Years | Disgorged: Spring 2010 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 9 Years
Very expressive fruit leaps out the glass with bundles of ripe tropical notes and lemon and orange and the palate has real weight of fruit, dried figs, nuttiness, cooked ripe apples and spiciness. Love the lees texture, assume this is a magnum, fresh and vibrant but with some development of pastry notes, very rich and long lasting. Is this 95?
|Krug Grande Cuvée 166th Edition NV | 18/20 | Avg Score: 17.9/20
Krug ID: 117003 | 45% PN, 39% CH, 16% PM | Base Vintage: 2010 | Reserve Wine: 42% | Lees Ageing: 6 Years | Disgorged: Winter 2017 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 2 Years
The generosity of fruits is right here, and initially I pick up on the mandarin orange with a real twist of spice. This has real concentration: dried apricots and heaps of cashews and that rich ripe collection of yellow fruits like plum, pineapple and exotic hints of papaya. The lees texture has a real rounding effect on the palate, with freshness, acidity and a hint of salinity that really lifts up the finish being clean and light. Must be young GC?
|Krug 1995 Magnum | 19.5/20 | Avg Score: 18.9/20
Krug ID: 105095 | 48% PN, 35% CH, 17% PM | Lees Ageing: 8 Years | Disgorged: Winter 2004 | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 15 Years
Rich and powerful fruits like pineapple and layers of dried apricots, lemons and richness and goes on and on. Can’t spit this, has that lovely balance of fruit, acidity, power and loveliness. This must be 95!
|Krug 2002 | 18.5/20 | Avg Score: 18.4/20
Krug ID: 415064 | 40% PN, 39% CH, 21% PM | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: Autumn 2014 | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 5 Years
Has less creamy nose than last showing its youthful character of vibrant fruit. A lot of ripe fruit, loads of pineapple and a lovely rich palate comes through. Loads of spiciness and power of lemons and grapefruit, bright acidity, very young still.
While each of the champagnes showed amazingly well (18.2/20 average score!), the magnum effect was once again the star of the show. Each of the larger formats had a fuller texture and deeper complexity, as showcased by the three vintage magnums taking the podium spots as the highest rated tipples of the evening. The conclusion: if you want to experience the best of Krug, you need to be drinking it from a magnum!
|Group Average Scores | Overall Avg: 18.2/20|
|Rank||Champagne||Group Avg. Score / 20|
|1||Krug 1995 Magnum||18.9|
|2||Krug 2000 Magnum||18.7|
|3||Krug 1998 Magnum||18.6|
|5||Krug Grande Cuvée 165th Edition NV||18.2|
|=6||Krug Grande Cuvée 161st Edition NV Magnum||18.1|
|=6||Krug Grande Cuvée 163rd Edition NV
|10||Krug Grande Cuvée 166th Edition NV||17.9|
|=11||Krug Grande Cuvée 164th Edition NV||17.7|