If you haven’t made plans for tonight already, it’s time to head east. Forget the hipsters and their snazzy bars, it’s the final week of the Krug Music Experience, an interactive exhibition organised by the famous champagne-maker in collaboration with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra.
Olivier Krug, director of the champagne house and a sixth-generation member of the founding family, told Spear’s that the connection between Krug and music has always been rooted in the family and that with this exhibition the wine-maker wanted to honour it. ‘For as long as I can remember, even when I was a child, we have always compared our wines to music, and their making to the composition and the work of an orchestra,’ he said.
The exhibition takes place at the Loading Bay, a large industrial building just off Brick Lane. The contrast couldn’t be more evident: outside, it’s very much east London – the smell of the curry houses, the street vendors selling burgers and beer cans, and the Rough Trade record store, famous for its indie, rock and punk music selection. Inside, it’s Reims-meets-South Bank, with waiters serving glasses of champagne and lovely Moroccan canapés, and The Rite of the Spring by Stravinsky playing on the background.
And yet the location couldn’t work better because champagne shouldn’t only be drunk in fancy restaurants and with expensive food. Madonna once said her guilty pleasure is eating French fries and Krug Rosé. ‘Champagne is not scientific, it’s emotional,’ Maggie Henriquez, president and CEO of Krug, said at an event for journalists this week. ‘It’s like music – you like it or you don’t like it.’
The exhibition shows the similarities between making Krug Grande Cuvée and putting together a concert – from blending grapes (or musical instruments) and vintages (players) to making sure the final product (whether the bottle or the orchestra) is harmonious and the best tones are given a chance to go solo. Visitors can walk around the gallery drinking Krug Grande Cuvée – blended from 120 wines from at least ten different vintages, as old as fifteen years.
But the show is interesting also to people who aren’t that interested in champagne (do those people even exist?) as it is fascinating to see how the music played by each instrument blends with the others to create the final result. Some players from the Philharmonia Orchestra are at the gallery, playing their instruments over the recorded concert of Stravinsky.
In the last room, you can play conductor and increase the volume of each section of the orchestra to see how that affects the ensemble. (Sadly, they don’t let you play with the very expensive Krug wines to create your own champagne. Dommage.)
In a recorded video, Eric Lebel, Krug’s chef de caves, said that just as each player in an orchestra plays the same music but with a different style, so the 120 wines that make up Krug Grande Cuvée all blend together to add their particular flavour to the final product. And just as players in an orchestra can change from performance to performance, so each year’s Grande Cuvée is different from the year before.
After the show, we headed to the Old Truman Brewery for a special four-course dinner by Greg Marchand, the chef of Paris’ it-restaurant Frenchie, who matched each plate to a Krug champagne. But if you don’t have time to hop on the first Eurostar and taste Marchand’s cuisine, London is full of good chippies. Madonna would approve.
Tickets cost £60pp and include two glasses of Krug Grand Cuvée. They can be bought at www.krug.com