Imbibed amidst an immersive patchwork of sounds, scents, and flavours, the latest edition of Krug’s much-loved multi-vintage Champagne strikes a chord that is as joyful as it is delicious.
I’ll be the first to concede that there’s nothing quite like “the intangible quality…of taking in the terroir” but insofar as virtual tastings are concerned — essentially the status quo for drinks industry pundits in 2021 — the recent unveiling of Krug’s latest Grande Cuvée proved to be oddly visceral and thrilling (in some ways, even touching). Every year since 1843, the eponymous makers of prestige Champagne have released a new assemblage of reserve wines, always consisting of the classic Champenois trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier; and always left to age sur lie for 7 years.
Dispensing first with the formalities, the 169th Edition is a “generous expression” of 146 wines made in 11 different years (Krug bottle single vintages relatively infrequently), the oldest of which harkens back to the turn of the millennium. It is, however, the 2013 vintage that — to butcher a musical analogy — really sets the bassline: with intensely “luminous and pure” Chardonnays; racy Meunier; and Pinot Noir that extrudes a long, treacle finish. It is in a word, unsurprisingly, ‘scrumptious’: at its best harmonising alongside sharp aged cheese; aromatic seafood dishes; maybe even a cheeky slice of tarte tatin.
Unsurprisingly, the hallmarks of this Grande Cuvée (namely quality, consistency, and complexity) remain present year in, year out; but it’s Krug’s highly intuitive method of presentation that helps to immerse drinkers in the art of crafting prestige Champagne. With the jubilant voice of Olivier Krug pouring into their ears — livestreaming in from the Maison’s ancestral holdfast in Reims — participants in these ‘Encounters’ were able to hear the story of the 169th Edition in a style that takes you beyond the spoken word. An “audio pairing” composed by Belgian musician Ozark Henry (and fed through to listeners using 8D technology) chronicles, in sonic form, the entire journey of the latest Krug edition: from plot to tasting, and finally harmonious blending together at the hands of Cellar Master Julie Cavil.
As ever, these ‘Encounters’ ended with a culinary presentation (in Hong Kong, presided over by Island Shangri-La’s Uwe Opocensky) inspired by the tasting notes for the current edition — langoustine and freshly jetted oysters seem to be much-favoured accompaniments this time round — followed by a round of questions for the Maison’s patriarch, Mr. Olivier Krug. On whether he was excited for a resumption of global travel — to better present this 169th annual bottling — he expressed optimism. Until then, you could do a lot worse than sipping to a soundtrack.
The 169th Edition of Krug Grande Cuvée is now available at various retail partners throughout Hong Kong, including Watson’s, The Fine Wine Experience, CitySuper and Avize Wine Cellar. To learn more, visit Krug online.