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Dom Pérignon vs. Krug: The Fight for the Champagne Giants



Dom Pérignon or Krug? The ultimate first world problem. Still, the rivalry between these two prestige champions from LVMH, luxury brand owner par excellence, is fun to observe, even if you would never dream of spending £ 150 on a bottle. And each has a new winery that is responsible for maintaining its differences.

Dom Pérignon has always been a brand of his own, the best creation by Moët & Chandon. It is named after the monk who is believed to have "invented" champagne and now has a base in his monastery, Abbaye d'Hautvillers.

Dom Pérignon is about image rather than detail. Pass the idea that every employee of the LVMH would rob quite a few million bottles made of it. Marvel is how delicious it is despite the volume ̵

1; directly dizzy at the moment each vintage-dated cuvée is launched, and yet it lasts so well that late-release versions (known as P2 and P3) are now also available. You can really smell the distinctive aroma of lemon mousse concentrate from across the room.

Just don't try to push the wine production team for much information. As someone with champagne-loving Master of Wine recently observed to me: "I suspect that you, like me, always liked to hear Richard G dodge wine production questions."

Richard G is Richard Geoffroy, who retired in 2018 as the man in charge of Dom P. His previous role involved not only overseeing the crucial blend of still basic wines, but an exhausting plan to travel around the world to present any glittering results.

Geoffroy's place has been taken by Vincent Chaperon, 44, who worked with him at Dom Pérignon for 13 years and may be one of the few people in the world to be relieved that The pandemic has brought travel to a halt. He spoke to me from an empty chamber in Abbaye d 'Hautvillers via Zoom about the 2010 vintage, which is just about to be released.

Treading in Geoffroy's shoes means being responsible for wine production throughout the huge Moët & Chandon Champagne empire, a massively demanding position even without traveling. "Coronavirus came at just the right time for me," he says.

He wanted to talk about 2010 in Champagne. It is not one of the region's most famous vintages, with lush roots in many vineyards that color the general perception of it. But Chaperon is convinced that "it is one of the forgotten vintages of Champagne".

Ten years ago he was in a much lower position and oversaw the picking strategy. He was constantly checking the vines. In particular, he remembers the weekend of September 4 and 5, escaping from the vineyards so often that he never bothered to lock his car. His laptop was stolen.

At that stage, the rat that would particularly affect Pinot Noir vines was not too widespread. But he introduced, partly through continuous observation and partly from previous reports from southern France, that the risk was much higher than the general perception in the Champagne region at that time, and he instructed the vineyard team to inspect the vines daily with extreme vigilance.

As a result, they were able to map the occurrence of rot in detail and determine exactly which plots were not worth picking. They rejected about 15 percent of the potential crop. "Many people missed the vintage of 2010," he says, "but picking is like a sport. You have to be in the zone."

I have no way of knowing how accurate his account is, but 2010 is certainly a success, and I am convinced that Chaperon is just as perfect – and on message – an ambassador for Dom Pérignon as Geoffroy was. Chapeau Chaperon!

Krug, which was absorbed in the LVMH stable in 1999, is a quite a different kettle, a much more intellectual wine aimed at geeky connoisseurs, it has always been represented by an actual Krug – currently the sixth sixth generation Olivier – who darts around the world and spreads the gospel from Krugism and shares wine production details to an eye-catching degree.

Presentation of the latest version of the most important wine, the 168th edition of Grande Cuvée, from its Zoom office, Olivier Krug lamented: "This is the first time in 30 years that I haven't have had a plane ticket at my desk. It's a little depressing. ”

Julie Cavil, Krug's new chef de cave presented even more technical background for the complex mix of the 168th edition and told how she was recruited into this famous champagne house. (She had originally worked in a Paris advertising agency before she got the wine bug.)

“It was 2006, and it was my seventh interview with Olivier's uncle Rémi Krug [his tireless predecessor as the family’s chief salesman]. Finally Rémi came into the room with a bottle of champagne, so I thought we would finally celebrate my appointment. But no. What he said was: & # 39; OK, Julie. Make me dream about this champagne. & # 39; ”

Like Chaperon, Cavil, 46, started in the vineyards. Her first assignment was to supervise the fall in Krug's garden vineyard Clos du Mesnil, whose Chardonnay is bottled separately and sells for around £ 1,000 a bottle.

Although Krug sells a vintage-dated Brut, one gets the impression that what they are really interested in, chez Krug, is the non-vintage Grande Cuvée, which is so much more complicated to make, with several tastings of hundreds of possible ingredients.

From 2006 Cavil worked closely with Krug's chef de cave Eric Lebel: "He was on stage and I was on stage." She admits to being nervous when she first got to participate in the all-important flavor selection.

But she must have shown some ability since taking over from Lebel at the beginning of this year and now has the responsibility of creating Krug's champagnes. Tasting usually takes five months, and she just had to decide on the final mix for the 175th edition of Grande Cuvée when the house was closed down.

Still, she had 4,000 flavor notes on her specially designed Krug app (when this was excitedly described to me during a visit in 2016, I felt they weren't too keen on sharing it with the Dom Pérignon team) and managed to complete task in double-fast time, aided by five others in three different rooms. "I have many stories to tell when the 175th is released in eight or ten years," she says.

I once drove past Château de Saran, Moët's hospitality center, with Olivier Krug. "I've never been there," he told me with pride.

LVMH's Champagne House

  • Moët & Chandon
    The non-annual blend Impérial Brut has improved tremendously in recent years.

  • Dom Pérignon

    Incredible quality consistency given the amount. Reductive style that provides wines that are very easy to like when publishing.

  • Krug

    Complex wines with a strong influence of oak and oxygen and true inside appeal. They celebrate the variation between different releases.

  • Veuve Clicquot
    Another recent change of winery and wines I think is quite thick. Very possessive of its special orange color.

  • Ruinart

    Blanc de Blancs in a clear flask is especially popular.

  • Mercier
    Moët & # 39; s darkened.

More shares from Wine-searcher.com . Tasting notes on Purple Pages from JancisRobinson.com

Follow Jancis on Twitter @JancisRobinson

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