For several years now, the House of Krug has been using sound as an accompaniment to their champagnes, working with musicians from diverse backgrounds such as Ozark Henry and Kris Bowers to create music and wine pairings. As a universal intuitive language, music can work much like champagne to open sensory gateways to new sensations.
Renowned Japanese musician and composer, Academy Award-winning Ryuichi Sakamoto was invited to one such session in 2019, and was pleasantly intrigued. “To be honest, I was surprised to learn that a champagne house can create music pairing experiences while also leveraging new technologies—it is astonishing,” he said.
Sakamoto was challenged to go one step further—translate a trio of champagnes from the 2008 vintage into a symphony to be played by a full, live orchestra. The resulting composition, Suite For Krug in 2008, was performed in three global events in New York, London and Tokyo, merged with immersive audio and visual technology. This new experience was dubbed: ‘Seeing Sound, Hearing Krug’.
Listening to champagne
Although the period between 2020 and 2022 was delayed by the pandemic and Sakamoto’s battle with cancer, Sakamoto’s team was able to travel to Reims and record the sounds from Krug—“even the silences in the cellar”, he noted, while spending more time on video calls with Krug’s cellarmaster Julie Cavil, delving into the 2008 vintage in minute detail.
“I like the concept of making the impalpable tangible. It is well said that we are ‘touched by music’. At Krug, it is the opposite: the champagne is palpable in your glass and also provokes emotions. I like the idea that Krug wants people to listen to its champagnes. I listened to Krug’s champagne, and it led me to where I should land musically,” he explained eloquently.
Cavil, on the other hand, is fond of referring to the wines she blends as her “musicians”, and in the cool vintage of 2008, the grapes were able to develop slowly and with elegance. Hence, she was able to audition her 250 “musicians” of that year, eventually using the perfect chardonnay from Clos du Mesnil in the very precise and exclusive Clos du Mesnil Blancs de Blancs 2008, while a larger ensemble of wines made up the Krug 2008. With a broader palate, she also finalised the blend of the Grande Cuvée 164ème from 127 wines from 11 different years, of which the youngest was 2008.
The Grande Cuvée is arguably the House’s most important champagne, one that was envisioned by founder Joseph Krug in 1843 to be crafted every year, regardless of weather conditions. This most generous expression of champagne has endured since, and the numbers denote the many editions that have been made—164ème, for instance, means the 164th year and edition of the Grande Cuvée.
An everlasting trio
With three uniquely created wines composed from the same harvest, it seemed natural then to create one symphony in three movements, and thus Sakomoto’s Suite For Krug in 2008 was born. “I completed the third movement first in order to approach the most complex and work backward towards simplicity,” shared Sakamoto. “I later discovered that Julie also always starts with Krug Grande Cuvée when she composes her Champagnes, so we shared the same order of the creative process.”
Its first movement is discrete, precise and minimal, representing the Clos du Mesnil 2008. The second movement grows bigger with violins, cellos, and other stringed instruments such as the harp, but also has woodwinds for depth—this then, harks to the balance and rounded elegance of Krug 2008. In the third movement, the full 36-piece symphony comes to life, with harmonious generosity that evokes the Grande Cuvée 164ème. There’s no better time to close your eyes and let Cavil and Sakamoto take you on a sensorial journey you’ll never forget.
Enjoy Suite For Krug in 2008 at krug.com