How to identify the age of a Krug Grande Cuvée

Krug Grande Cuvée, the non-vintage/multivintage version of Krug and the most commonly encountered Champagne of the Krug range, is a wine that can be cellared for quite a long time. The preference of many Krug enthusiasts is to always drink it with some cellar age. From mid-2011 an ID code has been included on the back label by means of which information about disgorgement and vintages in the blend can be retrieved from the Krug website. On bottles from 2011 and earlier some information about their age can be concluded from the label design and in some cases from a code printed on the cork. This is a summary on how to interpret these clues, that I’ve put together from different information sources, including info on some special releases.

Krug Grande Cuvée has been sold since 1978. Before that the non-vintage Krug was called Private Cuvée. In connection with this name change Krug switched from regular-shaped Champagne bottles to bottles of the shape they still use, with a larger diameter at the bottom and a narrower neck.

Label designs from left to right: beige (or matt-yellow) with ID code, beige without ID code, gold, white, yellow.

Information on the label

The colour of the label and other features of the label design identifies the approximate age of the bottle. The years below indicate which years the bottles were sold by Krug:

  • Tentatively from late 2016-: beige label with an edition number on the front label and ID code on the back label. From the regular release of Krug Grande Cuvée with base vintage 2008 the labels will carry an edition number, but will otherwise look like the bottles from 2011-2016. The release with 2008 as the base vintage is the 164ème edition. The number 1 (”1er edition”) thus corresponds to the year 1845. Special releases with older base vintages will also carry an edition number from 2016. Early 2016, the 158ème edition with 2002 base and 163ème edition with 2007 base, then the regular Krug Grande Cuvée, were shown edition-numbered together with 2002 Krug Vintage.
  • Mid-2011-2016: beige (I’ve also seen it called matt-yellow) label with ID code. The front label is somewhat simplified compared to those without ID code. The patterns on the sides of the label have been dropped, and “KRUG” is written in a straight line on the lower shield of the neck foil. The back label includes an ID code. The first bottles of this label design were from the base vintage 2003.
  • 2004-2011: beige label without ID code. On the sides of the front label there is a flower-like pattern, and “KRUG” is written in a curved way on the lower shield of the neck foil. All bottles have a letter code (V code) on their cork (see below).
  • 1995/96-2004: gold label with a lot of red in the design. “KRUG” is written with golden letters on a red background. The neck foil is also gold-coloured and there’s a large “K” high up on it. The younger bottles of this label design have a letter code on their cork, and the older ones have a two-digit code.
  • 1982/83-1995/96: “white” (or pale yellow) label. To tell the difference between yellow and white labels only based on the colour isn’t too easy, since older labels can be somewhat faded. However, this label design also has “GRANDE CUVÉE” written in small-size uppercase letters, has a narrow red line around the edge (rather than a wide border), and a long neck foil that reaches half-way down the narrowing part of the bottle and finishes with a large shield.
  • 1978-1982/83: yellow label. This label design can also be identified by the wide red border on the label, by “Grande Cuvée” written in rather large-sized lowercase letters (with uppercase G & C) and a shorter neck foil, that basically only covers the straight part of the neck. The decision to introduce Grande Cuvée and the new bottle design was taken in 1972, so the base vintage in the oldest bottles of this label design is 1971 or 1972.

From left to right: purple with ID code, purple without ID code, older bottle. The older bottle probably matches Grande Cuvée “white”. There is also a version (not in the picture) that matches Grand Cuvée “gold”: it has the “K” on the neck foil that can also be found on Grande Cuvée “gold”, and a neck foil in a lighter colour.

Krug Rosé has been sold since 1983, and exists in four different versions, of which three are shown in the picture. Krug Rosé also carries an ID code since mid-2011, and has had its label changed in the same way as Grande Cuvée. The Krug Rosé releases that match Grande Cuvée ”white” and Grande Cuvée ”gold” differ less than the Grande Cuvée labels. One trick is to look for the large ”K” on the neck foil, since that matches the Grand Cuvée ”gold”, while ”white” doesn’t have a K.

ID code

The ID code, that was introduced in mid-2011, is a six digit code that has the pattern PYYNNN, where YY = year of disgorgement, P = period during the year the disgorgement took place, NNN = serial number of the batch. YY are the last two digits of the year, i.e. 10 for 2010, 11 for 2011 and so on. P indicates which two-month period during the year that the disgorgement took place, which means 1 = January/Febrary, 2 = March/April, 3 = May/June, 4 = July/August, 5 = September/October, 6 = November/December.

Letter code on the cork (in this case a four-digit V code) and ID code on the back label: V1131 matches ID 311028 and indicates disgorgement in 2011.

Codes on the cork

Printed on the rim of the cork one of the following can be found, sorted by increasing age of the bottles:

  • Letter code, a code starting with a letter, usually a V, and followed by three or four digits, indicating the year of disgorgement (Y), period during the year (P), and a serial number (N). There can also be some letters after the digits. P is the same as in the ID code, i.e., 1 = January/Febrary, 2 = March/April, 3 = May/June, 4 = July/August, 5 = September/October, 6 = November/December.
    • Four-digit letter code on the pattern VYYPN, for example V1131 which means disgorged May/June 2011. This type of code is used on bottles with ID code on the back label, i.e., bottles sold from mid-2011, and the oldest disgorgement year with this type of code is 2010. The same YY+P information is used in the ID code, but appears in reverse order. 211 and 311 in the ID code corresponds to 112 and 113 on the cork.
    • Three-digit letter code on the pattern V YPN (with a small space between the letter and the first digit), for example V751 which means disgorged September/October 2007. Is used on bottles with beige labels and younger bottles with gold labels. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly when this code was introduced, perhaps in the late 1990s? The youngest bottles with a three-digit code were disgorged in 2010. The letter is often av V, but I’ve seen an A several times and on occasion an M, but I haven’t figured out any difference between the various letters.
  • Two-digit code. The digits don’t seem to carry any information in the same way as the younger codes. However, bottles with this code are older than bottles with V code or M code, but younger than those without any code.
  • No code at all. Corks with nothing printed on the rim indicates an older wine than those with a two-digit code.

These codes are also used on vintage Krug, but in those cases the age of the wine itself is not in question, although different disgorgement years often do exist.

The code on the cork is visible without removing the muselet and the wires, so in principle it would be possible to read it by removing a part of the foil, although this would make the bottle look ugly and damaged.

Namned special releases

Krug has on some occasions during the “beige label” period released (or at least presented at tastings) Krug Grande Cuvée bottles with special names. These bottles have been re-releases of bottles that have been stored an additional time by Krug and therefore been named/labelled in order to be told apart from the current release. The name has been indicated either on the back label or a small neck label. From 2016, such releases will probably be given its edition number (see above) rather than a special name. The 2002 base that had earlier been called Finesse was presented as the 158ème edition when the 2002 Krug Vintage was presented. Known releases are the following, with their corresponding edition numbers indicated:

  • Fraîcheur, 1996 base, oldest reserve wine 1983. Edition number: 152ème.
  • Richesse, 2000 base, oldest reserve wine 1988. Edition number: 156ème.
  • Savoir-Faire, 2001 base, oldest reserve wine 1988 and an unusually high proportion of reserve wines. Edition number: 157ème.
  • Finesse, 2002 base, composition 44% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier, oldest reserve wine 1988. Also known as 158ème edition (those bottles had been disgorged spring 2008).
  • Mémoires, 2003 base, oldest reserve wine 1990. Edition number: 159ème.

My main sources of information:

  • A summary on the label designs written by Remi Krug in January 2005 after their then recent change of labels, can be found on the forum (The forum posts are in Swedish, but Krug’s quoted text is in English.)
  • Matching of Remi Krug’s descriptions and bottles in his own cellar done by CH at
  • Description of the letter code by Nicolas Audebert, one of Krug’s winemakers, in May 2005 quoted here.
  • Description of the ID code and current vintages in the cuvée in connection with the Krug Masterclass at Decanter Fine Wine Experience in November 2011.
  • An article on the release of the 2002 Krug and the edition information on the labels.
  • Information on specific batches at Krug’s website, and for auctions directly from Krug’s cellars (including one by Sothebys in December 2012)..
  • Inspection of cork codes in connection with tastings.
  • Pictures of older bottles that have been available for sale.

I would be very interested in hearing comments on this blog post in these two cases:

  • Any information having bearing on when the letter code was introduced, i.e., which letter codes (V codes or other letters) that are the oldest, and when the two-digit codes were introduced.
  • If you encounter any bottle which seem to fall outside this pattern.

Updated 2013-10 with some more information on Krug Rosé. A more substantial update 2016-03 with info on edition numbers and releases with special names.

The Swedish version of this post can be found here.

This entry was posted in Champagne and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to How to identify the age of a Krug Grande Cuvée

  1. dalcoholic says:

    Great article!! I have a bottle in my cellar from the 2004-2011 era. I don’t want to open the foil, as you mention. There is a code etched into the bottle itself just below the back label. There is a faint “LLLIHA” followed by a slightly less faint “03175”. Do you have any thoughts on the age of this one? Thanks!!

    • vintomas says:

      I don’t really have a clue if the numbers in these bottle markings contain any information, I’ve never seen them referred to. I just checked a Krug vintage 1996 where I’ve kept the cork, and the bottle says LLLIW 1240 while the cork says V 651, so there doesn’t seem to be any obvious connection between the cork code and the bottle markings. Many Champagne houses use them, though, but probably to identify lots if they should turn out to have quality problems, and for anti-fraud purposes. You could try to email Krug and see if they are able to tell you anything about your bottle.

  2. Fantastic article, and exactly what I was curious about! I was trying to do research to see for myself when each of the Grande Cuvee labels were used, and you spelled it all out, and more. One question – do you know if the rose labels were introduced for the same periods of time? Meaning, older was 1983-2004 (which spans 2 GC labs,) purple w/o code 2004-2011 and purple w/code 2011+? It makes sense the later two roses lined up with the later two GCs as the designs are similar, but I thought I’d see if you knew.

    • vintomas says:

      It seems reasonable to assume that the design for the rosé has been changed at the same time as the Grande Cuvée, but I have not been able to tell for sure if there is one label covering 1983-1995/96 and another 1995/96-2004. The rosé is much more rare, so I’ve seen much fewer older bottles of rosé. The design is sufficiently different from GC so it’s not obvious to which period the rosé in the photo (taken from a GC tasting in the autumn of 2012).

      • vintomas says:

        Update: I recently noticed a picture of a Krug Rosé more closely resembling the GC “gold” (95/96-04) design, including a Krug “K” on the neck foil. So the older Krug Rosé in the picture above must be a 83-95 design. So, yes, there are different Krug Rosé designs for all the different Grande Cuvée designs.

  3. (Oops, I meant purple w/o code 2004-2011)

  4. Pingback: House of Krug and the Quest for Perfection |

  5. Garrett DeVries says:

    This is great. Thanks for posting this information.

  6. Robert Watt says:

    Thank you for this information. I have been a long time fan of Krug and it is great to have this information on the Krug MV. I like to age the MV Champagne 5-10 years and have been writing the month/year of purchase on the back label to keep track of age. We just had our 17th annual blind Champagne tasting in November and the 2000 Krug came out on top. Both the Krug vintage and MV Champagnes have done very well over the years. If you want to see the results of our blind Champagne tastings, take a look at our blog Thanks again.

  7. kay gray says:


    • vintomas says:

      Hello kay gray! Unfortunately, the numbers you quote doesn’t tell the age. The “NM” numbers are just Krug’s registry code as producer, and the HDR might perhaps be some postal code. Krug Private Cuvée was sold until 1978, so this bottle is from 1978 or earlier, i.e., at least 36 years old. It is possible that the label design and the foil can give some additional clues as to the age of a bottle of Private Cuvée, but unfortunately I don’t have any information regarding this.

  8. Martin Gormsen says:

    Thank you for your very helpfull blog. It’s things like this there will save humanity.

    Among others old NV’s I have two different bottles with the White label. The first one is identical with the one on the picture above and have NM number 225-001. The second bottle is a little different: “Reims” is written with a little difference in the typografis, it’s “750 ml” instead og “75 cl”, it’s on the krug label stated “importato da Marchesi Antinori” and the NM number is 3.042.212. It’s obvious an Italian import. It leaves me with two questions: There seems to be a change in the NM number over time. Can this be used to determine the age more precise? And have the Italian Antinori import taken place in the full period for the White label. In others words; can this be used to determine the age more precise? Kind regards Martin

    • vintomas says:

      Possibly it could be used to “nail down” the age of the bottle more precisely, but unfortunately I have no information about import labels. They don’t seem to have been used for some time, though, because I’ve never seen any on the more recent versions. The current producer code is NM 549-001, by the way, at least on the bottle I had in my fridge. All NM, RM or other codes I’ve noticed (not just on Krug bottles) have the structure of today, so “3.042.212” must be an older version. – I’ll have to check other older Champagne bottles I come across! So it seems reasonable to assume that this is an older rather than a younger bottle in the “white range”, probably from the 1980s rather than the early 1990s.

  9. Pingback: Krug Grande Cuvée vertical tasting | Tomas's wine blog

  10. Michael S. says:

    I had two bottles with the V-code with 3 digits:
    V 351 (gold look)
    V 721 (beige look without ID)

    I don’t know if this helps you pinpoint anything regarding the codes. I would really like to know about which vintages etc. was used for the last one.

    • vintomas says:

      Well, the first one was disgorged in 2003 and the second one in 2007. The base vintage might be 2000 (or thereabouts, +/- 1 year), since about 7 years between vintage and disgorgement has been rather common for bottles slightly younger than this one (where the base vintage has been known). The oldest reserve wine might be from the late 1980s.

  11. linda says:

    Hi – we have a bottle of krug grande cuvee with the gold label that was given to us as a gift around 2005 0r a couple yrs. earlier. We only drink kosher wine (!) so it has just sat there. From this article I understand it is still drinkable. Correct? I guess it would make a great gift for someone! Thanks for your help

    • vintomas says:

      If properly stored (not too hot, not too dry – it mostly depends on the condition of the cork), a Krug is not just drinkable but most likely better after 10 years. With the long foil over the neck it’s not that easy to tell if the fill level is as new, but if you turn the bottle upside down you can see if the “air bubble” looks reasonably small. Also, there should be no signs of seepage.

  12. Pingback: Some Krug news | Tomas's wine blog

  13. Ozzy says:

    Hi I was given a bottle Krug rose Grande Cuvee a few years ago I think it’s white label number on the label is written NM-225-001 and the side of the label a number 14008675 could you please tell me what year this is produced and when it is fine to consume till.

    • vintomas says:

      Sorry, can’t help you. The NM part is just Krug’s registration number and doesn’t tell which year. Serials numbers printed on the labels could possibly say something, but I have no info to help you decode it. You could match the look of the bottle/label to what’s shown here to find the age. Unfortunately, I don’t have as good a lineup of the rosé bottles as of the regular Grande Cuvée. In general, if the fill level is OK, the cork isn’t leaky and the colour isn’t too dark, you could expect the contents to be very good!

  14. Fantastic post. I’ve been eyeing up a bottle in a small shop recently, and knew the label was an older style, but this helps narrow it down a lot, many thanks!

  15. champanski says:

    great article! thanks! So a 1995 krug would be a V85 and then possibly a 2 for march/april and a 1 as a random number? v8521, is that correct? are those random numbers also double digits sometimes?

  16. enzo says:

    the third bottle (the bottle in the middle of the first photo) is a 1988?

    i have one like that and krug told me: Dear Enzo, it seems your Krug Grande Cuvée has been re-created in 1988 and left the Krug cellars in 1998. The blend includes wines from 70’s and 80’s.
    Best regards,

  17. Michael Tschuertz says:

    Hello, a few things i noticed looking at my empty Krug Bottles. Around 85 the bottle colour changes from light green to darker green. in fact i have one vintage 85 which is lighter and another one which is darker, also the labels changed somewhat. i also have 88, 89 and 90 vintage all with different labels. also during the white GC phase where on the inside of the frontlabel there is a date like 14.03.84. also somethnig that Oliver Krug told me to look out for.

  18. Billy says:

    Is it possible that a gold label is still dinkable?

    • vintomas says:

      Absolutely! If reasonably properly stored it is highly likely, and not just drinkable but highly enjoyable. Some of them have been less than 15 years on the market, and the “life expectancy” of a good wine (Krug is high acid = long lasting) is much more under good storage condition.

  19. Travis Scott says:

    Sorry, I already posted this comment to the wrong section, you can delete one or the other.
    You are missing the metal label rosé with the silver neck foil. I think it must come between the plum neck foil and the first pink label, it looks like it matches with the gold foil grande cuvée. I can send you some pictures if you want.
    I also wanted to thank you for making this page, it has been helpful for me when I explore these older Krug NVs. Thanks again.

    • vintomas says:

      Thanks for the info. It doesn’t surprise me that I might have missed one version, since the Krug Rosés are “spotted” less often. And it does make sense that there is a version to match every version of the Grande Cuvée.

  20. Tony Fulster says:

    Is it possible to find the actual year of a White Label ? Only you have a range from 1982/83 and 1995/96

    • vintomas says:

      Not as far as I know, as most clues that identify a specific release have been introduced later. This was in a time when the line from Krug (just like from most Champagne houses) was that all releases taste the same. 🙂 There might of course have been minor changes to the label over this approx 13 year period, but I have no information about that.

      • Tony Fulster says:

        Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply Tomas. I needed the information due to an Auction coming up, and even they don’t know the year. (me thinks 1995/6 years) and will progress on that basis 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s