Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne is very good. In fact it is very, very good. You could even say excellent. In the case of Krug I guess you could say that is damning with faint praise. For Krug mere excellence is a failure. By reputation and price it should be sublime. It is not. The real problem for me, is that I really believe it once was.
I thoroughly enjoyed Alice Feiring’s book, The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization, and in particular was moved by her chapter on Champagne. It moved me because I am old enough to know what Champagne was and my palate is aware enough to know what it has become. The big name Champagne brands, with a few notable exceptions like Gosset or Bollinger, have all sold out. Today they are led by accountants and marketers instead of winemakers. All the big Champagne brands are run by corporate ownership that implements and believes in the marketing strategies so successfully employed by the perfume companies - that is image is more important than substance. What the bottle looks like and what’s on the label is everything, while what’s inside is an afterthought.
In her book Alice talks about what Krug once was and the empty symbol of conspicuous consumption it has become and it’s a very sad story. Perhaps one of the most offensive things about Krug Champagne these days is the environmental assault their packaging represents. Each bottle is packaged in a heavy, pretentious presentation box. It’s hard to believe that a company could be so unaware of the world around them. On top of the excessive price, anyone concerned at all with the environment should be offended by the packaging of Krug and refuse to buy it on that level alone. Anything that is so sumptuously packaged should automatically set off your internal alarms. If it was so good, why would they have to waste so much money (and so many trees) on the package.
A real litmus test for spotting someone not in the know about wine is that they’re drinking Krug, Dom Perignon, Cristal or anything from Veuve Cliquot. Savvy bubbly buyers are drinking grower Champagne selections from Terry Theise, Becky Wasserman or other sharp importers. In the topsy turvy world of Champagne the less famous the brand the better chance you have of getting both a good wine and a fair price.
According to wine-searcher.com, the average price for NV Krug Grande Cuvée is $179. Here’s a wine IQ test: Do you buy three bottles of excellent Champagne from the explosion of wonderful grower bottled Champagnes on the market or one bottle of excellent famous Champagne in a fancy box?
Krug used to be the best, now it’s just one of the pack.