There’s an argument to be made that every great meal should begin with a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne. And wine director Mark Bright makes that grand gesture a reality, offering a glass as the perfect prelude to a Michelin three-star meal. “Krug Grande Cuvée is special in that it has a remarkable richness and is also wonderfully fresh. Whether we are offering a welcome splash of Krug to wine lovers or to people who are tasting it for the first time, it makes an amazing first impression, and our guests universally adore it,” says Bright, who became a sommelier at the Bellagio in Las Vegas at the age of 21, then went to San Francisco to help open Restaurant Michael Mina before eventually partnering in Saison.
According to Olivier Krug, the allure of Krug’s flagship wine begins with his great-great-grandfather, Joseph Krug, who conceived the visionary principles of the maison in 1843. “He dreamed about creating a type of Champagne that did not exist, a Champagne that would place quality above consistency, because he knew the essence of Champagne is pure pleasure,” says Krug, who now helms the house. “We make Krug Grande Cuvée every year, and if you limit yourself to consistency you fall into something monolithic. At Krug, we are focused on the richest expression of Champagne that can be produced.”
DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
“When you look at Champagne houses, 90% of them are doing things the same. But Krug is actually very different,” observes Bright. First, all the wines destined for Krug are fermented in casks. Many of these are held back following the vintage to become reserve wines, giving the maison a rich palette of roughly 400 different components, currently dating back to 1988, to draw upon. A generous portion of these reserve wines is a hallmark of the Krug house style, and each one must be tasted every year. “I can tell you how it’s done. There is no magic. Only a lot of hard work,” says Krug.
The vital role of reserve wines stems from the founder’s belief that no Champagne vintage is ever truly perfect, that there is always something missing from the story. “The spectrum of reserve wines we will add to Krug Grande Cuvée is there to bring what even the best year has not offered,” explains Krug. As a non-vintage wine, Krug Grande Cuvée achieves excellence by transcending vintage, with each bottle over 20 years in the making. For a restaurant to offer a prestige Champagne of this stature to every diner is an act of rare generosity, but then again, Krug has always been a Champagne of rare generosity.