Ode to Joy

Olivier Krug tells Renyi Lim what it’s like to be part of Krug’s cham­pagne dy­nasty, how rule-break­ing runs in the fam­ily and why you’ll never find him drink­ing from a cham­pagne flute.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Savour -

I’m sit­ting at the Krug Chef’s Ta­ble in En­fin by James Won, sip­ping a glass of Grand Cu­vee with Olivier Krug, while the sound of Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from Daph­nis and Chloe swells around us. “Lis­ten!” the direc­tor of the House of Krug urges me. “Have an­other sip of Krug: see, it’s rolling and grow­ing fresher with the high notes. If you were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a cham­pagne tast­ing to jazz mu­sic, per­haps you’d feel more bub­bles, taste more ripe fruits or sense the taste mov­ing to­wards your tongue. You don’t need to be an ex­pert - it’s about feel­ing.”

It is in­deed about feel­ing, and the plea­sure to be gained from it – as has al­ways been Krug’s way. The sixth-gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of the cham­pagne house’s found­ing fam­ily has been fa­mil­iar with the con­cept ever since he was given a drop of Krug as a new­born baby, even be­fore tast­ing his mother’s milk. And while Krug hap­pily ad­heres to cer­tain tra­di­tions like those, there’s a fam­ily his­tory of break­ing the rules – which was how the House came to be the first to cre­ate only pres­tige cham­pagnes every year.

I ask Olivier if he thinks un­con­ven­tion­al­ity is an out­stand­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of his fam­ily, given that he shuns cham­pagne flutes in favour of white wine glasses. “It’s true! It’s like go­ing to the opera with earplugs,” he says. “It’s taken so many years to craft this cham­pagne, but in a nar­row flute, every­thing is trapped inside and you may com­pletely miss its in­ten­sity, ver­sa­til­ity and joy­ful­ness.

As for our fam­ily - yes, I think that lack of con­ven­tion is there.”

“When Joseph Krug be­gan, he broke the rules - not for the sake of break­ing them, but he had a dream to cre­ate a cham­pagne that would not suf­fer from the vari­a­tions of na­ture. To aim for the very best qual­ity every year, he had to dis­pense with the idea of hi­er­ar­chy - those seg­men­ta­tions be­tween vin­tage and non-vin­tage cham­pagnes.”

The blend­ing of Krug’s cham­pagnes is a process that the French­man is in­tri­cately in­volved in, work­ing with chef de caves Eric Lebel and other mem­bers of Krug’s Tast­ing Com­mit­tee to sort through al­most 4,000 tast­ing notes each year. “I love small bub­bles when they go pop-pop-pop on top of your tongue, and I look for an in­ten­sity that is very pre­cise, not a cham­pagne that goes boom! Pre­ci­sion means el­e­gance, which even­tu­ally leads to a long and fresh af­ter­taste, so that you want to have the next sip.”

Against a back­drop of strong cham­pagne tra­di­tions, Krug has in­tro­duced mod­ern ways of savour­ing its bub­bles, like an app that charts the jour­ney of each cham­pagne bot­tle and sug­gests mu­sic pair­ing op­tions. “This new tech­nol­ogy is fan­tas­tic,” he en­thuses. “It can take cham­pagne lovers so much fur­ther and helps estab­lish a bet­ter con­nec­tion with our House. A sense of hu­mour is also a part of Krug - we should not take our­selves too se­ri­ously.” www. krug.com ≠

“To aim for the very best qual­ity every year, he had to dis­pense with the idea of hi­er­ar­chy.”

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