Krug ChampagneTrade Dinner at Jefferson Hotel is an ELEVEN

How lucky can a wine writer get? Lucky enough to snag a coveted invitation to the recent Krug trade dinner – and even luckier to bring his co-author/spouse along to celebrate her birthday in style.

The evening started off with an aperitif of the latest release of Krug Grand Cuvee. Many people consider this wine the proverbial workhorse in the Krug lineup, but I respectfully disagree… I think this wine is the Anchorman (or woman) in the Krug Champagne Relay Race. It is always pitch-perfect. Reliable, charming and rewarding. Meticulous blending of multiple vintages across hundreds of small lots provides the House with the proper resources to produce a wine that is consistently bright, balanced and a tad racy year after year after year. The nose was lovely, full of toasty oak, minerals, and yeasty brioche. The palate featured flavors of ripe apple up front and minerally notes on the crisp, lingering finish. A great way to get the party started with the Mint-Scented Chilled English Pea Soup.

The festivities were hosted by the ever-so-charming Monsieur Carl Heline, the US Brand Director for Maison Krug. Throughout the evening, M. Heline informed, regaled and entertained the assembled oenophiles with facts and stories relating to the history of Krug. Johan Joseph Krug was a German accountant who spent his formative years learning the art of blending Champagne at Jacquesson, where he met and married an heiress to the famous House. However, he was not satisfied with the attitude of the status quo in Champagne, and caused quite a stir in the family when he decided to shake things up a bit and founded Krug Champagne in Reims. His goal was to make the finest Champagne in the world. Period.

Evidently, Jonny kept a diary, writing down every detail of every vintage as well as the reasoning behind each blend. The diary was recently discovered and returned to the Krug House where it confirms that his remarkable methods, perfected all those years ago, are still in use today and are the very foundation behind Krug’s blending process.

 Next up was the oh-so-amazing Krug Rosé, served with Asparagus Salad with Grilled Tuna Loin. The acidity in the wine perfectly offset the richness of the tuna while the palpable notes of wild strawberry and raspberry – thanks to the skin-fermented Pinot Noir which is responsible for the beautiful pink color – provided a perfect accent for the silky-smooth fish. Additional flavors of apricot, honey and lemon curd fills out the rest of the palate and long finish.

Both the 2000 Krug and 1998 Krug were served up with Roasted Poularde with Black Truffle Potato Dumplings and both held their own, but truth be told, the Grand Cuvee seemed to be showing better than both of the coveted vintage wines. Both, in my opinion, were delicious but just too young to drink.  The 1998 vintage featured more Chardonnay in the blend than Pinot Noir, so it seemed to show more apple and nectarine notes than the 2000 counterpart. Both wines opened up to show off toasted brioche notes on the crisp finish. Lemon/lime characteristics popped in on the back of the palate.

As a “thank you,” I brought a special treat to share with the rest of the group; a 28 Year Old Grand Cuvee that has been resting comfortably in my cellar, just waiting for the right occasion – and this was it. Carl’s face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. He decided to serve it with the final cheese course. The subtle bubbles and smooth texture supported absolutely gorgeous flavors of honey, roasted hazel nuts and toasted croissant. It continued to open and open to reveal a touch of sherry notes and caramel apple, proving that these wines have remarkable agability. A charming ending to a spectacular evening.

 Special thanks to Carl Heline from Krug and Sarah Pallack from Bismarck Phillips Communications & Media for the invitation and arrangements.

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