On Monday evening Southern Season hosted an evening with Champagne Krug. We were honored to have in attendance Ian Cauble, US Ambassador for Champagne Krug, to walk attendees through four of these exceptional wines. Krug is one of the world’s most iconic Champagnes; and you will easily find that most people readily remember and share their first time tasting the wine.
The House of Krug was established in 1848 and for nearly a century the house only produced two wines: a non-vintage (Grande Cuvée) and vintage Champagne. The Krug-owned vineyards comprise a total of only 20 hectares in Aÿ, Le Mesnil, and Trépail. Any fruit needed beyond this is purchased from local growers who work with Krug under long-term contracts: a source of tremendous pride for these growers. All harvested fruit is fermented in 205-liter French oak barrels. It is this primary fermentation in oak that sets the House of Krug apart from other houses. Krug wines are never dominated by new oak due to the meticulous preparation of the barrels. First they are seasoned with water then several vintages of press wines (which are sold off and not incorporated into Krug) before they can be used for Krug proper. Once the alcoholic fermentation is done the wines are racked twice, without malolactic fermentation. They are then stored in stainless steel vats prior to blending or for longer as reserve wine; one of the essential components for the Krug style.
To taste through the wines, I passed each attendee a plate of Parmiggiano Reggiano, Delice de Bourgogne, San Danieli Proscuitto, D’Artagnion duck pate with red pepper and small taste of North Carolina’s own Atlantic Sturgeon Caviar.
We started our tasting with the Grand Cuvée. It takes over 20 years to craft this extraordinary blend of about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages; some of which may reach 15 years of age. The Grande Cuvée is a blend of all three traditional grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; and shows spectacular character with notes of baked apple, orange zest and a touch of honeyed vanilla – it’s one of the most highly rated Champagnes.
We then moved on to the 1998 Vintage. This wine is a tribute to Chardonnay, as it is only the second Krug Vintage dominated by the grape since 1981. This wine is focused, almost linearly, with expressed minerality. This was definitely the wine to taste with the Parmeggiano and the Caviar – a perfect marriage. For those of you who enjoy following wine ratings, this is the highest rated vintage champagne from the Wine Spectator at 98 points:
“This harmonious Champagne offers luxurious texture and powerful, focused acidity, showing aromatic accents of spring blossom, crushed thyme and chai, with rich notes of lemon meringue, hazelnut, black currant and fresh porcini mushroom. The full package; Impressive; Drink now through 2028. –AN”.
Next was the 2000 Vintage and WOW, what a complete change from the 1998. The wine was much more rich in texture, full and complex with flesh orchard fruit and a round almost custard-like finish. When paired with the richer Delice and Pate your taste buds simply sang. Again the ratings were stellar – 95 points from the Spectator.
We finished our tasting adventure with the very rare Krug Rose. This is a blend of the three different grape varieties over several vintages and combined with skins of fermented Pinot Noir for the soft, pale color and hints of spice. The wine rests for at least five years in the cellars to enhance the soft mousse and elegance. The palate is complex and rich with smoky notes of orange peel and red currant, finishing with a slight hint of ginger. A truly rare treat!
We had the added bonus and honor of learning from Mr. Cauble, who has some rather spectacular credentials. I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to marvel over this very young, passionate and humble gentleman’s accomplishments. He is one of only 146 Master Sommeliers (www.courtofmastersommeliers.com) in the world – passing this incredibly difficult examination in July of this year, in June of 2011 he won the title of Top Young Sommelier in the World and followed that up in August to the win the 2011 Top Somm US competition; and in October of this year won Bronze at the Best Sommelier of the Americas and will go on the compete in Tokyo next year for Best Sommelier in the World – it exhausts me just writing about it!. For those lucky enough to attend, this was an assuredly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As we move headlong into the holidays’ here is a short list of some of our new products in-house:
Just a few of our new holiday beer
Corsendonk Christmas Ale Gift Packs $23.49
Mikkeller Big Worse Red Wine Barrel $16.69
Mikkeler Its’s Alive White Lychee Barrel $20.99
Ridgeway – Lump of Coal $8.09
Ridgeway – Santa’s Butt $7.39
Ridgeway – Reindeer Revolt $7.39
Ridgeway – Criminally Bad Elf $8.79
And some new holiday wine deals:
Saint Hilaire Brut $17.99 – $14.99
Laurent Perrier 2 glass gift set $67.99 – $50.99
Gunlach Bundschu Chardonnay $32.99 – $21.99
Vieux Telegraph CNDP $104.99 – $88.99
Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*prices and availability are subject to change.