BestChampagne had the pleasure of interviewing Margaret “Maggie” Henriquez, President and CEO of KRUG, one of the most prestigious Champagne Houses.
Margareth “Maggie” Henriquez was appointed President of KRUG in 2009
Before joining the champagne world the Venezuelan Harward graduate was President and CEO of a number of companies in the wine and spirit business in Latin America.
She talks with passion about her House and why its champagne and the entire philosophy behind them is so special.
Best Champagne: How have you arrived at the helm of such prestigious Champagne House?
Margaret Henriquez: I have a long career in the wines and spirits business since 1982.
From 2001 to end of 2008 I was in charge of all the properties of Moët Hennessy in Argentina and this was exactly the time when the industry there turned around elaborating much better wines.
I was at the head of leading wineries and took my time to learn and get very involved with winemaking and sparkling winemaking to be able to take my place.
Meanwhile, I was at the head of the distribution of all the Moët Hennessy brands, therefore, I knew them all quite well.
At the same time, a new opportunity was opened at KRUG and the President of the wines & spirits division of LVMH, Christophe Navarre, proposed meat the end of 2008 to lead this challenging, exciting, unique and beautiful house – it did not take me too long to say yes!
BC: What is Champagne to you?
ME: I would like to insist on good or great champagnes. They are my preferred drink, I have always loved champagne above all other wines and spirits because it is the most joyful expression of the wine, with its freshness, persistence, velvet sensation.
When champagnes are great, as the ones I love, you can really be transported to a different dimension. The combination of great wines and fine bubbles is magic, seductive, gentle and extremely elegant. It can be more than an instant of pleasure, a source of happiness!
BC: What makes KRUG so special?
ME: Is the way KRUG lovers refer to this house – their comments and ways of expressing KRUG – that makes this house so special.
This is for sure the result of six generations that perpetuated the vision of its founder, a man very sensitive to his clients.
In 1843 Joseph Krug founded this House and was willing to make it the best Champagne House in the world. He wanted to create champagnes beyond all the existing ones in the market during those days.
He even wrote in a personal notebook in 1848 how this house should be and his idea was to create the richest and most elegant champagne every year, which will be absolutely consistent in the very high quality.
And to do so, we would need to blend wines of many different years to achieve richness, and long aging in the cellars to achieve the elegance he envisioned.
He was clear that champagne is about pleasure and he wanted his clients to find the same unique outstanding taste every time they would have a Krug Number One champagne– this is the number he gave to this proposition in his personal notebook.
He thought about this champagne for clients who would be more interested in the signature of the House than in the date of birth of the champagne; and for those who would be interested in the date of birth he proposed a champagne of the year (a vintage champagne), only in those years that have a story to tell.
But then as full consistency is in our signature, the House has total freedom to tell the story of the year through the vintage champagne, meaning that at KRUG every vintage when elaborated, is totally different to each other.
This dual proposal thought to give the maximum emotions to both pleasure seekers with Krug Grande Cuvée and to amateurs or connoisseurs with KRUG Vintage.
With no hierarchy in its champagnes, KRUG is absolutely unique, and there is no other House that proposes only prestige cuvées in the way KRUG does.
BC: So, what is really KRUG Grande Cuvée?
ME: Grande Cuvée is not the entry champagne at KRUG, but the reason of existence, as everything happens in the House around it.
It is richest and most elegant expression in champagne and the signature of the House for which 150 wines of reserve of 10 different years of a range of 15 years are kept in little special tanks in our cellars preserving all aromas and flavors of different years to the service the creation of this great cuvée. It is a beyond vintages expression that does not exist in Champagne.
In addition, during the last 40 years, a Rosé was created under the same philosophy of KRUG Grande Cuvée, very different to other rosé champagnes – very KRUG before being Rosé; and KRUG Vintage that is very KRUG style.
We also have the two Clos, KRUG Clos du Mesnil and KRUG Clos d’Ambonnay, amazing expressions of these single parcels completing the portfolio of champagnes of this special House.
The House that one day was created with its potential clients in mind today is special due to them!
This is why this house is very oriented to excellence, very deeply rooted in an obsession for details with a real passion for its uniqueness.
BC: On what occasion should you open a bottle of Grand Cuvée, Clos du Mesnil or Vintage?
ME: Whenever you decide to drink them is fine, my theory is that the best champagne or wine is the one you like and gives you pleasure and it is the same for occasions or moments.
But for me, I would imagine that Clos du Mesnil should be for a discovery moment among more people or for a very intense intimate occasion among less.
It should be a moment for discovering intensity among very special friends or an intense gastronomic experience among few people.
Our Vintage could find more spaces on a side but similar on the discovery mood.
I always imagine not very large groups and more likely amateurs tasting beautiful year expressions – very engaged expressions of the year only as Krug can be.
BC: What is your piece of advice to somebody new to KRUG?
ME: KRUG was created to be the best, to be beyond all existing champagne propositions those days and still continues to be unique.
KRUG is really the “Haute Couture” in champagne and that our KRUG lovers have been and are always at the center of our house, which was created to please them, by being different and outstanding.
And we, in a very humble way, we continue to be committed to this vision.
I am sure that tasting KRUG champagnes will for sure be an unforgettable moment, a memorable experience. It is worth creating the occasion.
Follow the link to discover Krug House and champagnes.