An Interview With Olivier Krug

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Olivier Krug: “Growing up with the noise of the bottles in this house where we made everything ourselves allowed me to live with the rhythm of the seasons.”

Olivier Krug, the eldest of Henri Krug’s five children, grew up next door to the Krug cellars in Reims, immersed in the sights, sounds and aromas filling the courtyard during Champagne-making time.

After studying business and economics, he joined the family company (now LVMH-owned) in 1989 at the age of 22 and spent more than two years in Japan, where Krug was practically unknown. Today, the country is the house’s most important market, followed by the US. Krug went on to take up various positions within the company while serving as a full member of the wine team and working alongside his father, before becoming director of the house in 2009.

Founded in 1843 by Joseph Krug, the firm doesn’t reveal production volumes or sales figures, although Krug is thought to be one of the most expensive and least-consumed Champagnes in existence. Crafting prestige cuvées targeted at the high-end market, its signature is the Krug Grande Cuvée: a blend of approximately 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and three grape varieties, it lies for another seven years, minimum, in Krug’s cellars.

Billionaire talks to Olivier Krug about his work.

When did you first taste Champagne?
I remember several occasions when I was a kid, with my grandfather, because we were given Champagne in small glasses. I have drunk Champagne for as long as I can remember.

What are your favourite memories of Krug family celebrations?
Christmas parties with my grandparents and also the wedding anniversary of my grandparents maybe 30 years ago when we served a 1904 vintage blind and my grandfather immediately guessed what it was.

What was it like living next door to the Krug cellars?
Growing up with the noise of the bottles in this house where we made everything ourselves allowed me to live with the rhythm of the seasons. There’s a time for bottling, harvesting, celebrations and so on. When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to go to the cellars because that was my father’s professional place and he never discussed his work, but it was always special to go to his office to see him.

What lessons did you learn working alongside your father, Henri, and your uncle, Rémi?
I learnt from my dad a passion and respect for people: the growers, the people with whom we work. I learnt from Rémi a love for travelling, connecting with people, telling stories and bringing back stories to Reims for the team.

Where is your ideal Christmas party venue and who would you invite?
At home because it’s where my beloved live. I would invite my mother, my wife and my four kids — one boy and three girls. I spent last Christmas at home. I love to celebrate together with my family.

What would be your perfect dinner menu and what would be the wine pairing?
There are no rules, but nothing too fancy. It would be a very classic French Christmas dinner. I like simple food. I will always favour the ingredients. I think a fresh grilled lobster doesn’t need anything other than good cooking and a glass of Krug rosé. Apart from Krug, I love Bordeaux wines for their fullness; Burgundy wines for their precision; and Alsace wines because my grandmother was Alsatian. I also know what I don’t like. I don’t like when the process takes precedence over the soil, the terroir, and when a winemaker feels he’s more important than nature. I want a wine to be the reflection of nature. And this is what is very interesting with Krug because it is a blend of hundreds of elements. We have all this richness and we follow the origins of our grapes. We get our grapes from different regions, as long as the grower cares about the specific plot. It’s not just about which grape variety, but which garden and which part of the garden. Maybe on the left side because you get the sun in the morning and not in the evening, so you have less heat. And which part of the left side? The grapes may look the same, but they are not the same; this is where we care about individuality.

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