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Hanging a Chord: Krug’s Musical Pairing for its 171st Grande Cuvée

Hanging a Chord: Krug’s Musical Pairing for its 171st Grande Cuvée

When the house of Krug brought the 171st edition of its Grande Cuvée champagne to Hong Kong, Prestige was there to sample it.

When Joseph Krug created his Grande Cuvée in 1843, he did it with the dream of bottling the finest champagne he could offer every single year, no matter what the weather might bring. And generations since then, the Krug family has kept the vision.

2023 marks the release of the 171st edition Grande Cuvée, a champagne that sings the potential of the 2015 vintage, the youngest wine in a blend that’s composed of 131 wines from 12 years dating back to 2000. The composition of the 171st Edition is 45 percent pinot noir, 37 percent chardonnay and 18 percent pinot meunier, with the reserve wines that make up 42 percent
of the blend giving Krug its signature complexity, power and body. The wine is fruity yet moreish, with notes of red fruits and citrus and toasted brioche that come through on the finish. 

An already delicious wine with great potential for ageing, the 171st edition is made even better by the house’s unique pairings. Forget comté and even caviar and fresh oysters (although also delicious); this latest Grande Cuvée comes with a specially composed piece of music, a collaboration the house affectionately calls Krug Echoes, based on the belief that sound has a profound influence over the perception of taste.

Olivier Krug
Olivier Krug

Krug’s musical roots run deep. A family of musicians and music lovers, in 1920 Joseph Krug II inaugurated the first music room at the family home in Reims, where many a bottle of Grande Cuvée has doubtless been popped open and enjoyed ever since.

Fortunately we don’t have to journey to Reims to experience the magic of champagne and music. For the Hong Kong launch of the 171st Edition as well as the Krug Rosé 27th Edition, Olivier Krug, sixth generation of the Krug family and the Director of the House personally came over for the launch of the Krug Studio here, sitting down with us to discover the new champagnes with a special composition.

Krug has done musical pairings in the past, but this is the first time the house has made a piece of collaborative music. Says Olivier Krug, “It’s similar to the way we make wines because we’re pulling at different players but it was a challenge in the beginning.”

The artists had come together at Reims during the summer for a preview of the champagne, and Julie Cavil, Krug’s Cellar Master, had asked them to express their thoughts through their instruments.

Emiri Miyamoto with Krug Grande Cuvée 171st edition

“What’s interesting is that usually, while they love champagne, they’re not used to these testings so they’ll sometimes underline very specific facets,” recalls Olivier Krug. After Julie had asked everyone to play something, Rone disappeared for a bit. And that evening, he came back just before dinner and said he had something for us. He had listened to everyone and based on what people had said, he had arranged some music.”

The whole process of creating the piece of music still took several months, with the artists taking full control of how they wanted the composition to sound. “It’s a real joint composition,” says Olivier Krug as we quiet down for our first listen, and our first taste.

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We sit while immersed in delightful music specially written and performed by an artist collective including Japanese violinist Emiri Miyamoto and singer Kazu Makino, British drummer Moses Boyd, American harpist Mary Lattimore and French composer and electronic-music artist Erwan Castex (or Rone), who composed the final piece. Titled “Joseph’s Theme: Dream Variation”, it’s exactly that – mellow, poetic, groovy beats counterbalanced by Kazu’s lilting vocals.

Dreamy music to accompany an even dreamier wine. 

(Header image: Rone with Krug Grande Cuvée 171st edition and the Krug Rosé 27th Edition)

Source: Prestige Online

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