Krug Grande Cuvée 166ème Édition and the “création” of the 173ème Édition

by Chiara Giovoni 05/04/18
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Krug Grande Cuvée 166ème Édition  e 173 champagne

Grande Cuvée is an expression of Krug’s art in blending over 120 wines from over ten different harvests, creating a fullness of flavors and aromas that would be impossible with the wines from a single year.

It has been 173 years since the first creation of Champagne Krug that turned the dream of its founder Joseph Krug into a reality. And this is not just a mathematical calculation from 1845, two years after the Maison in Reims was founded, but can be verified in at least seven years on the label of the latest Krug Grande Cuvée, the blending of which was completed at the end of March, working with the fruits of the 2017 harvest that were not easy but have a particular personality.

One single creation, one single blending from a selection of over 120 wines from 250 vintage wines and 150 reserve wines, one bottling for each vintage to create a new Édition of Krug Grande Cuvée. Revealing what is behind each edition of Krug Grande Cuvée at once marked a moment of change at Maison Krug because it highlighted the uniqueness of each creation and offered the possibility of collecting the different Krug Grande Cuvée. In fact, ever since the Maison began its process of opening and sharing its savoir-faire to the world of Krug-lovers, first through the KrugID on the back label in 2011 and the app Krug and then, in 2016, with the indication Édition on the label, it became finally possible to recognize in order each “generation” Krug Grande Cuvée. And this is important because this is not simply a multi-vintage Champagne but the “best Champagne possible from each year, independent of the year’s climate variations”, as envisioned by founder Joseph Krug.

“The best expression possible” which this year was again celebrated with an event in Reims for the international community of wines experts dedicated to the annual re-creation of Krug Grande Cuvée. For this special occasion, Julie Cavil, the Enological Director and right-hand to the Maison’s Chef des Caves, Eric Lebel, illustrated together with her team the “circumstances” of the vintage and the 2017 harvest through a tasting of 11 wines of that vintage and seven reserve wines, thus offering illuminating insights into the composition of Krug Grande Cuvée 173ème Édition.

This exceptional tasting was a unique opportunity to discover the complexity of Krug Grande Cuvée and to witness the genesis of the 173ème Édition. And it was an emotional experience because it allowed us to comprehend the deep sense of responsibility in each and every decision by the Team and the Chef des Caves. Decisions including when to harvest the grapes of certain parcels of Clos du Mesnil, declaring each one by one as required by CIVC regulations, which in this case began on August 26, long before others prepared to plan to harvest their vineyards.

Julie Cavil spoke with excitement as if in her mind she went back to those days of apprehension, when in the span of 24 hours the grapes passed from having a luminous citrus freshness to the absence of acidity, moments in which the utmost privilege was not having to be slaves to logistics but to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the vine. For this reason, fermentation in small, 205-liter barrels (pièce champenoise), the average age of which by now is 25 years, is a fundamental pillar of Maison Krug winemaking method, because it allows them to produce just one wine from a single parcel and to maintain its individuality all the way up to the moment of blending and to decide whether it should become a vin de reserve.

Tasting the chalky and floral expressions from Avize, the wine made with grapes the Maison has acquired from a vigneron since 1974; the purity of the Cru fondateur Les Chamois in Villers-Marmery; the luminous crispiness of the Trépail parcel; the lithesome elegance of Verzenay; together with the tension and structure of the Bugnon parcel in the village of Les Riceys, allows one to understand how to listen to each single wine and comprehending its depth is the basis of every great and symphonic blend. And this is again true for Krug Grande Cuvée 173ème Édition that is a blend of 150 wines from 13 different vintages, the oldest being 2001, which will not reach the market until 2025.

Maison Krug pays great importance to respecting the individual characteristics of each element that contributes to the creation of each Édition. And there exists an authentic obsession for the individuality that each parcel can express when vinified separately. Over the course of the year, Eric Lebel and the Tasting Committee taste some 250 wines two or three times and 150 reserve wines from 14 different years once a year beginning in the spring. Eric has registered over 4,000 tasting notes in Krug’s Black Book which he consults before making any decision in regard to blending and this allow the Maison to recreate Krug Grande Cuvée based on one principle: offering the best expression possible of Champagne.

To celebrate the uniqueness of Joseph Krug’s dream as embodied in Krug Grande Cuvée, the Maison has for the first time offered a box set that represents a vertical tasting of Krug Grande Cuvée. This represents an opportunity to compare six Édition created around six successive harvests and comprehend what makes each new Édition unique and different. And in response to those who object to giving a Vintage connotation to Krug Grande Cuvée, the reply from Oliver Krug – who represents the family’s sixth generation – was very simple: blending over 120 different wines from more than ten different harvests generates a fullness of flavors and aromas that would be impossible to do from a single harvest. And this is the secret: setting up a full orchestra composed of a multitude of excellent soloists who play together in harmony offering an exclusive performance every times it takes the stage, Édition after Édition.

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