Cigar Aficionado

Krug Brut Rosé NV

Leave it to my wife to zero in on the paragon of Rosé Champagne. About 20 years ago, she decided that we should try Krug. We found a bottle of Krug Rosé in Europe and carried it back to Toronto, where we were living at the time. We drank it just before getting married. Thus began two great love affairs: one with my wife and one with Krug Rosé.

Krug's Brut Rosé NV (nonvintage) has been consistently "classic" (at least 95 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale) over the past four years, and I've just rated the current release ($256) a 96, the best in a tasting of 53 rosé wines. A wine of great complexity, depth and harmony, it nonetheless retains a freshness and vivacity matched with a seamless texture. Looking at my notes over the years, the flavors evoke red berries, sometimes cherry or rose petal, and spice notes like ginger, sandalwood and cardamom. There's often a hint of orange.

Like all Krug Champagnes, the Rosé begins with barrel fermentation of the base wines in 205-liter casks. Afterwards, still red wine from Pinot Noir is added before bottling and the second fermentation. Comprising three to six different vintages, the Rosé differs from Krug's Grande Cuvée, which relies on six to ten different years for its blend. The Rosé is not made every year.

It took 140 years and five generations after the founding of the house before brothers Rémi and Henri Krug unveiled the Rosé. "Krug had never produced a rosé and as I traveled all over the world to preach Krug in the '60s and early '70s, I had a growing number of requests for a 'rosé with the Krug magic.'" recalls Rémi.

For the brothers, what eventually became a reality matured slowly, first as a dream, then as a profile of what Krug Rosé should be—and equally important—what it should not be. According to Rémi, "It should encapsulate Krug's combination of richness and finesse, but with more berry and red fruit expression than Krug Grande Cuvée. And it should always be intriguingly elegant and as dry as all Krugs."

And doesn't that sound like an inspiring way to bring in the New Year or begin a love affair?