Monday, 15 April 2013

KRUG A TABLE - faites simple

Rue Coquebert  is one of the more famous addresses in Reims, not for its quiet bourgeois architecture but because it is the home of Krug. One's expectations of this ne plus ultra Champagne house have always been high since first coming coming here in the early 1990s. Yet on our first evening, last tuesday, the house excelled in a walk through liquid history, as a quintet of their most famous old vintages in magnums. For a detailed account of a wonderful tasting, I'm keeping that for a more permanent place in a wine journal. But I can say now that the 1969 Krug Collection, which I had not tasted before, is maybe one of the five greatest champagnes of my drinking life, right up there with Veuve Clicquot 1952/1962 and both Henriot Les Enchanteleurs & Roederer Cristal, in 1988.The '69 Krug had effortlessly controlled autolytic aromas- the come hither smells of the baker's shop - then a faultless opulent, elegant mouthfeel, at once rich, vinous, energetic, endlessly complex, and so  fresh & long at 44 years of age. 20/20

Joseph Krug the founder would have loved this

Factually, my focus today is the informal dinner we had afterwards in the family  house, over or rather next to the shop, looking out onto the lawn, which the beloved, late-departed Henri Krug  kept so immaculately that he could have been an Englishman. As favoured hacks, we're lucky to be able to taste great wines quite often, but I have sometimes thought that the more famous the appellation, the less trouble is taken with the food , especially in sustaining morcels. Not so at Krug, as we sat down to a fine meal, the more impresssive for its simplicity, the quality of the ingredients and the creative touch of Bertrand Grebeau, the young hot chef, protogee of Alain Passard of trois etoiles L'Arpege, now at Septime ( Paris 11eme): Bertrand is in the vanguard of the new bistro-gastronomy wave that is attracting bon vivants wanting to eat as well as always, without burning a hoel in their pocket book.

The theme of the evening was four expressions of Krug Grande Cuvee, the base wines of each blend of different ages: the current 2004, then 2001 (Savoir-Faire). 2002 (Equilibre), 2000 (Richesse). Each blend was matched with a dish.

Line-caught mackerel, citrus fruits & little balls of Macoona almond was a natural pair with the 04 base: the wine a pale vigorous gold, its racy flavours (Chardonnay very present) a fine foil to the strongish mackerel; and, delightful surprise, no way was this GC fazed by the citrus fruits, which can sometimes be assassins of great champagne. xx(x)

White asparagus, button mushrooms & slightly smoked fromage frais. A skilful assembly of flavours, the white asparagus topped with a gratinee; delicious subtly smoked fromage frais a spot-on combo with the 01 base: A more vivid gold, ageing nicely, fine vinosity. A point, 2001 a fragile year but something of a coup at Krug. xxx

Poulette de Patis, roasted vegetables & Cantal Entre-deux AOC.
An exciting dish of beautiful simplicity served with a great Grande Cuvee (base 02 Equilibre). Tender young hen chicken from Le Patis, near Le Mans, pure accompaniments of roasted vegetables, in a light glaze -the carrot esp bursting with flavours. This has the stamp of the great Alain Passard all over it, with the extra Gerbeau touche of lightly melted morsels of Cantal cheese. The GC with a lot of the great 02 in it was perfectly balanced - rich, creamy, upright. elegant, long and satisfying. Grand Vin.Merite le detour, as they say. xxxx

Belched apple, raw cream & salted butter caramel
On its own, a fine dessert and so good for my marginal diabetes! But let's be honest, its sucrosity rather overwhelmed the Grande Cuvee (Richesse, base 2000), which for all its ripeness got lost. I could have done with a small glass of Bonnezeaux or Quarts de Chaume. x

Yet a great convivial evening, and fascinating to see how each harvest has an appreciable influence on Grande Cuvee, in successive releases. A thoroughly healthly exercise - for a professional audience.

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