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Q&A: Olivier Krug on the Perfect Pairings for Champagne

The sixth generation of Krug’s founding family tells us about musical accompaniments, the latest Grande Cuvée and what’s hiding in the cellar.

Olivier Krug at Hong Kong’s 2018 Krug Encounters with live music by Japanese jazz stars Bloodest Saxophone.

Much like music, the art of Krug Champagne is in the unique blend of different elements that connect to the senses. Their Grande Cuvées use at least 120 different wines from at least 10 different years, each individually contributing its own character and vitality to the final blends. Similarly, music combines pitch, tempo, melody, rhythm and other elements to create sounds that can bring about emotion. With this connection in mind, Krug has now broadened Champagne degustation into a more enhanced tasting experience.

At the final chapter of 2018’s Krug Encounters — the series of global events that connect Krug with music, food and people — we caught a moment with the Director of the Champagne House, Olivier Krug, to discuss the 166th-edition Grand Cuvée, why he thinks Champagne should be paired with music, and the most rare and remarkable Krug in the world.

What is it about Champagne that goes so well with music?

Listening to a harmonious music pairing while enjoying a glass of Krug Champagne heightens the tasting experience and opens gateways to the emotions. It has been scientifically proven that what we hear has a direct impact on how we perceive flavours and aromas. The scores and playlists selected for Krug Music Parings have been specially created by musician and composer friends of the House, in collaboration with Cellar Master Eric Lebel. 

How have the different Krug Champagnes been paired with different music genres?

The reason we do Krug Music Pairings is for the emotional link they create. As there is no recipe to recreate Krug, there is no recipe to create a music pairing. Every single music pairing is based on personal feelings. With Krug Echoes, we work with young artists who taste our Champagnes and interpret this emotional experience musically.

One artist might be moved by the tension and layers of Krug 2004 and translate them into a violin duet. Another might experience joyous fireworks while tasting the same Champagne and express that feeling with a vibrant song. As long as this sensory link is present, there are no rules for Krug Music Pairings – after all, there can be as many pairings as there are emotions.

Which Champagne are you drinking, and what kind of music are you listening to at home?

I am a huge fan of Ozark Henry and particularly enjoy his music pairing with Krug Grande Cuvée and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor.   

Tell us about the Krug Grande Cuvée 166th edition?

This Champagne was created around the harvest of 2010. It is a blend of 140 wines from 13 different years, the oldest of which dates back to 1998, and the youngest to 2010. The year was defined by a tumultuous climate and Meuniers with great vivacity. The final blend takes many reserve wines from the year 2000, known for roundness and structure. The composition is 45% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay and 17% Meunier. In all, reserve wines from the House’s extensive library make up 42% of the final blend.

Each and every bottle of Krug Champagne is marked with a number. What is the idea behind this?
Every bottle of Krug has a unique story to tell and, since 2011, the Krug iD has made it possible for the House to easily share it with you. These six digits, printed on the back label of every bottle of Krug, can be entered online at krug.com or using the Krug App and will reveal Cellar Master Eric Lebel’s impressions of the year, a detailed story of the bottle, food pairing inspiration, recommendations for ideal storage and service, as well as Krug Music Pairing suggestions. The Krug iD is there to enhance every Krug Champagne tasting. 

I’m curious, what is the most rare or remarkable Krug in the cellars right now?

As we adhere to the dream of our founder — my ancestor, Joseph Krug — to create only Champagnes of the same level of distinction, all of our Champagnes are equally remarkable. Of the rarest, we only have three remaining bottles: the vintage 1915. This Champagne was made by Jeanne Krug, wife of Joseph, during the war while he was away fighting. There used to be four bottles of this Champagne and, in 2015, we auctioned one for charity. Of the contemporary bottles, Krug Clos d’Ambonnay is the rarest of Krug Champagnes because of the small size of this walled plot.

And finally, what would life without Champagne be like for you?

Is there such a thing?

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