Blindfolds, bubbles and buttered potatoes: Inside Krug Encounters 2021
I’m in France, Olivier Krug is standing next to me, and we’ve just embarked on a winding, wandering tour of the brand’s beautiful vineyards. Except I’m not, he isn’t and we haven’t. I’m actually sitting on a velveteen sofa somewhere in central London — with a blindfold tied over my eyes and a pair of immersive headphones plonked on my ears.
This is Krug Encounters 2021; the latest surreal session in a string of annual affairs from the storied Champagne brand. Every year, the Reims-based Maison stages a show-stopping event — a night to remember that uses music to enhance the effervescent experience of sipping its fine Champagne.
Previous years have seen the brand call on musicians including Jools Holland and Neneh Cherry for collaborations; weaving these artists’ enduring music into the narrative of the world-renowned Champagne brand. And, this year, the Maison has gone one better — and has created a new piece of music that tells the story of its latest expression; Krug Grande Cuvée 169 ème Edition.
Blindfold tied and headphones on, I’m about to listen to that very piece of music, composed by 3D music pioneer Ozark Henry. But, for now, I’m still listening to Olivier Krug’s lilting voice as we drift about the vineyards. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we get to the music itself, let’s relive the evening from the very first glass of Champagne…
On Clerkenwell Green, Old Sessions House was the perfect place to host a quintessential Krug experience. Both institutions cleverly continue to reinvent themselves to stay exciting and relevant in a contemporary world. And, like Krug’s innovative approach to winemaking, Old Sessions House is similarly breaking boundaries — shaking off its origins as a courthouse and becoming one of the most eclectically-decorated, sought-after venues in the capital.
The evening began with a Champagne reception. And music, the central, unifying theme for the event was in full sophisticated swing before even the first sip — thanks to a masterful string ensemble on the atrium’s mezzanine level. But, before long, guests were ushered into a different room in Old Sessions House; one lined with chairs and sofas. We were given silk blindfolds and instructed to surrender wholly to this latest Krug encounter.
The lights were dimmed, glasses were filled and the experience began with the aforementioned audio tour of Krug’s vast and exquisite vineyards by Olivier Krug. Using binaural immersive technology, guests were transported to France through sensory deprivation; travelling to Champagne using nothing but a pair of wireless headphones. Bees buzzed about our heads, the wind softly sounded and Krug explained how music became a key tenet of the brand.
“Growing up in this House,” he said, “I recall the music drifting into the garden in summer. My grandfather loved jazz, so we often listened to the many vinyl records of his vast collection as we enjoyed Krug Champagne together. My father always said the best way to enjoy this sensorial experience is to share it.”
And share it we did. A multi-sensory, multi-dimensional 8D piece of uniquely-composed music by Belgian artist and 3D music pioneer Ozark Henry followed; swelling sensorially to evoke every nuanced note that bubbles up in a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée 169 ème Edition.
Dinner followed. And, like the virtual performance that preceded it, the food served to enhance the experience of tasting Krug Grande Cuvée 169 ème Edition. To start, a dish of clams, fennel and chilli were paired with the Grande Cuvée, as well as a delectable side of poached salsify in lemon sauce. Following this, racks of lamb were presented with braised celery and buttered potatoes — a main course crafted by chef Florence Knight to mesh and meld with the intense flavours of Krug’s Rosé 24 ème Edition.
Then, after blackberry & bay leaf jellies and sumptuous honey chocolate truffles, it was to the roof of Old Sessions House for an impromptu performance by Moses Boyd; the young and enigmatic jazz drummer and bandleader from south London.
It was a suitably musical finale to a tuneful evening. Boyd’s soft drumming accompanied a final round of champagne — brimming with the bubbling flavours of citrus fruits, almonds and gingerbread. Krug Grande Cuvée 169 ème Edition is a triumph worth the fanfare; blended from 146 wines from 11 different years, it perfectly proves how we can harmoniously come together — even after a year apart.
And Krug is keen to maintain this feeling. In a bid to elongate this year’s ‘Encounter’, and promote a return to socialising and togetherness, the brand is offering its Krug Grande Cuvée 169 ème Edition, including the Binaural Sound Experience, exclusively at Clos19 — giving you the opportunity to enjoy this incredible immersive event for yourself, in the comfort of your own home.
So order away, pour yourself a glass and dive into the sparkling world of Krug today; we guarantee that it’ll be music to your ears.
Want more drinks recommendations? Here are the winners of the Gentleman’s Journal 2021 Drinks Awards…
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