Thursday, August 07, 2008

Visiting Krug - in the cellars.

So with eyes like pissholes in the snow, I woke up a silly o clock in the morning, showered and made it down for a lovely breakfast in the morning. The sun was shining, the gardener was out raking the gardens and clearing up the corks we had fired off the balcony the previous night. Mine was the winner, out on the grass, while mark managed to hit the patio and penny barely made if further than the end of the balcony sill. After indulging on fresh croissants and pastries we were met at the front by our genial chauffer and whisked off to the maison. The Krug domaine is rather discretely placed off the main roads behind a set of imposing black gates. As we entered the courtyard the place was filled with oak barrels being washed down and soaked with water, preparing them for impending use.

We were told how the Maison came into being, the history of the family and their philosophy for champagne before being taken down into the cellars to see for ourselves.

We were in heaven, millions of bottles of Krug all stacked up where they wait patiently for six years to reach a level of maturity that Krug feels is essential to its being. We get the full tour of the cellars, walking past racks of bottles, the chalk boards written in a code identifying which wines they are. I keep my eyes peeled for the Clos d'Ambonnay, but fail to spot any, or its sister vineyard Clos de Mesnil. We did however find magnums of vintage 98 and even a few jeros. As we descend deeper beneath Riems we come to the vault holding the reserve wines. Specially designed double decker steel tanks hold the reserve wines going back to a 1996 Bouzy which we are told was the oldest wine blended in this years "batch" of Grande Cuvee. In six years time when the wine reaches the market, that component will be 20 years old! We struggle to get our heads round the idea that someone can select a blend of so many different vintage wines and somehow seem to know how it will turn out after six years of maturation. And while the main selection of the blend is done by a core team, that many other people at Krug are involved on the periphery.

While in the cellars we get the chance to watch their cellarmaster riddling the bottles, and Mark takes the opportunity to have a go himself.

As the cellar tour ended we wandered upstairs for a spot of elevenses - a cheeky wee (wee being the operative word) glass of Grande Cuvee before we departed for a tour of the vineyards, more specifically the vineyard of Clos de Mesnil.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Like a pilgrimage to Mecca - the visit to Krug. Day one.

Ive had my pilgrimage, got to see two of the most precious vineyards in the whole of Champagne and Im one seriously happy camper!
Mark, Penny and myself flew out from Manchester on Monday afternoon after nearly two hours delay and were met at Charles de Gaule airport by a chauffer carrying a Krug sign - cool!! We were whisked from the airport in a swanky new merc to the Hotel Les Crayeres where we were staying overnight. After a quick shower we met down in the lounge for a crafty pre-prandial flute of something before heading into Riems to Brasserie Flo for something to eat. Being the beginning of August and actually sunny somewhere we got to eat outside on the terrace, although I think they stuck us in the tourist corner as we seemed to be surrounded by English people. Penny got the trip off to a good start with a cheeky little bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc (despite our effort to get her off of choosing LVMH products she wouldnt budge!) Still cant complain, it is one of the best value Blanc de Blancs on the market., and a damned fine drop of fizz. We all started with something fishy, myself with 6 langos and Mark and Penny opted for the Hommard (Lobster) with fresh mayonnaise. We had all opted for the classic brasserie dish of Steak frites for out main course, although we underjudged the size of the meat a bit and all ended up a bit stuffed. That was washed down with a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee, the richness of the wine coping admirably with the tender rare meat. Its a little know fact that Krug Grande Cuvee works magnificently well with Fish and chips!! Penny was now full to the gills and it was left to me and mark to sample the creme brulee. That was my mistake, finishing it was even worse. I was so full my stomach felt like it was going to burst. I havent felt that full ever! I couldnt even take another drink I was that full. So after a brief walk up the main road we settled down in a bar and I watched them two chugging G&T's while I slowly digested my dinner. Then we headed back to the hotel and onto Penny's balcony where we caned three bottles of champagne we had cleverly brought along, while playing silly drinking games and watching the stars. A bottle of Pol Roger Vintage 96, a bottle of Dom Perignon 99 and a rather disappointing bottle of Veuve Rose. Guess which one Penny brought! Penny also pitched in a bottle of Hennessy XO, but I knew when my limit had been reached and at 4:30am I sloped off to bed determined to get at least three hours of kip before the morning.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Krug minus 2

Just two more days until I go to Krug. Well technically its three as we dont actually visit Krug until Tuesday morning, but by this time on Monday we will be in Riems at the Hotel Crayeres and I cant wait. Ive been looking forward to this jolly for six months. We have a tasting on tuesday at 10am followed by a tour of the Clos de Mesnil. Hopefully we can persuade them to take us to the Clos d'Ambonnay as well, before lunch and then returning home. Short and sweet. Then Im off for three weeks while the refurb happens and the Arkle is turned into Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor.