Margaret “Maggie” Henriquez was appointed president of Krug in 2009. Before joining the champagne world, this Venezuelan Harvard graduate was CEO of a number of companies in the wine and spirit business in Latin America, including Bodegas Chandon, the first overseas subsidiary of Moët & Chandon producing Method Champenoise wines outside of Champagne. A strong businesswoman with a warm touch, she took Krug to new highs, by further valorizing its unique identity and superior wines. She talks with passion about the house she represents and explains why its champagnes and the entire philosophy behind them are so special.
How have you arrived at the helm of such a prestigious Champagne house?
I have a long career in the wines and spirits business that started in 1982. From 2001 to the 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 winemaking and sparkling winemaking to take my place. Meanwhile, I was at the head of the distribution of all the Moët Hennessy brands (including Krug) that I knew all quite well. A new opportunity opened at Krug and the president of the wines & spirits division of LVMH, Christophe Navarre, invited me at the end of 2008 to lead this challenging, exciting, unique and beautiful house. It did not take me too long to say yes!
What is champagne to you?
I would 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 wine, with its freshness, persistence and velvet sensation. When champagnes are great, you are 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 but a source of happiness.
I have always loved champagne above all other wines and spirits because it is the most joyful expression of wine.
What makes Krug so special?
The way Krug lovers refer to this house–their comments and ways of expressing Krug–makes it so special. The house that was once created with its potential clients in mind, today is special thanks to them.
Krug is very oriented to excellence, very deeply rooted in an obsession for details with a real passion for uniqueness. It is the result of six generations that perpetuated the vision of its founder, a man very attentive to his clients. When Joseph Krug founded his house, he wanted to make it the best Champagne house in the world. He wanted to create a champagne beyond all the existing ones. He even wrote in his personal notebook how it should be: the richest and most elegant champagne every year, and absolutely consistent in its very high quality. For that, he would need to blend wines of many different years and add long aging in the cellars to achieve the richness and elegance he envisioned.
Krug is very oriented to excellence, very deeply rooted in an obsession for details with a real passion for uniqueness.
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 No.1 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 others, he proposed a vintage champagne, only in the years that have a story to tell. As full consistency is our signature in our non-vintage champagnes, we have total freedom to tell the story of the year through our vintage champagnes, which are very different to each other.
This dual proposal is meant 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 the way we do.
What is Krug Grande Cuvée all about?
Krug Grande Cuvée is not the entry champagne at Krug, but our reason of existence, as everything happens around it in the house. It is the richest and most elegant expression of champagne and the signature of our house. About 150 wines are used, of 10 different years of a range of 15 years. They are kept in little tanks in our cellars preserving all the aromas and flavors of different years to serve the creation of this great cuvée. Krug Grande Cuvée is an expression beyond vintages that does not exist in Champagne.
Krug Grande Cuvée is our reason of existence, as everything happens around it in the house.
We also created a rosé version of Krug Grande Cuvée, with the same philosophy, very different from other rosé champagnes–very Krug before being rosé. We also produce two cuvées from clos–Krug Clos du Mesnil and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay–amazing expressions of these single parcels, which complete the portfolio of our special champagnes.
On what occasion should one open a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée, Krug Rosé, Krug Vintage, Krug Clos du Mesnil or Krug Clos d’Ambonnay?
Whenever you decide to drink them is fine. My philosophy 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. However, I would imagine that Krug Clos du Mesnil and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay could be for a moment of discovering intensity among very special friends or an intense gastronomic experience among few people. Similarly, Krug Vintage could find its place on a similar discovery mood, in a small group of amateurs tasting beautiful vintage expressions–very engaged expressions of the year as only Krug can be.
My philosophy 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.
What is your piece of advice to somebody new to Krug?
Krug was created to be “the most generous expression of Champagne”, to be beyond all existing champagne propositions, to be unique. Krug is really the haute couture in champagne and all the Krug lovers have been and are always at the center of our house, which was founded to please them, by being different and outstanding. Today, in a very humble way, we continue to be committed to this vision. I am sure that tasting Krug champagnes will be an unforgettable moment, a memorable experience for which it is worth creating the occasion.