Krug and IRCAM Create an Immersive Sound Tasting Area

This space was designed by the design and architectural consulting firm, AW2 in association with Amadeus, a designer and manufacturer of high-end electro-acoustical playback systems.

The challenge launched by the Maison Krug

Since 1843, the House of Krug has been exploring new ways of enriching the tasting experience. Today, more and more scientific research recognizes the influence of hearing on the experience of tasting. These discoveries are important for the house which considers music a unique way to create an innovative tasting experience.

The “400 wines wall” representing the 400 ‘vins clairs’ held in the Krug wine library © Patrick Susini

Starting from this premise, and with the aspiration to immerse its guests in the very heart of the house’s savoir-faire, the Krug team—including cellar master Eric Lebel and winemaker Alice Tétienne—invited IRCAM’s researchers to be able to share the experience of tasting still wines through the powers of sound. The daily tasting of these still wines—considered to be the tools of the trade for Krug’s Tasting Committee—guides the decisions made concerning the elements used in the composition of the house’s final blends.

How can this tasting experience be shared without having the vocabulary of a professional oenologist?

The Sound Design Approch from IRCAM

Two research teams from  the STMS laboratory (Science and Technology of Music and Sound) at IRCAM worked together on this project:  Sound Design and Perception and Acoustic and Cognitive Spaces. They suggested the house connect properties of sounds with properties of wines to create a sonic environment capable of offering a multi-sensorial experience in the new tasting room at the House of Krug in Reims.

This approach made it possible to map the relations between the properties of a sound and the oenological characteristics of a wine.

The creation of 10 soundscapes, metaphors for 10 individual Champagne plots used in Krug blends, was entrusted to the composer Roque Rivas associated with the sound engineer Clément Cerles. The role of music here is to reveal the most striking attributes of the wines used in the Champagne Krug’s creations; in a way, it illustrates the sound of each region of Champagne.

An immersive sound playback system was custom designed by IRCAM in collaboration with Amadeus to make the listening experience more intense and bring the tasting experience as close as possible to the sound experience. 

Photo: Illustrative elements of the codesign sessions. The environment was formed of cardsets representing the different semantic spaces and board with concentric circles

An association of complementary expertise

For the design and implementation of this immersive tasting salon, IRCAM partnered with the architecture firm AW2  and the company Amadeus. It is by pooling their respective expertise that they have created a unique and innovative space.

Krug tasting room (Reims) equipped with a 32-loudspeaker system © Olivier Warusfel

A unique sound diffusion system designed specifically for this space combines two large electro-acoustic ensembles. The first set—frontal—is subtly integrated into the Wall of 400 Still Wines. It is articulated around 18 coaxial Amadeus PMX 4 speakers equally distributed over three levels with an 9-meter wide opening.  The second, more immersive, set is positioned around and above the guests. It is made up of 8 acoustic ceiling-mounted loudspeakers and 6 loudspeakers designed in Corten steel specifically for the project hung on the walls. This system is completed by 2 low-frequency speakers. Each of the 34 speakers that make up the sound diffusion system is naturally amplified and processed independently.

The creation and diffusion of the sound contents for this exceptional system rely on IRCAM’s sound spatialization software Spat~. The frontal matrix integrated in the Wall of 400 Still Wines offers sound creators and designers the unique possibility of spatializing sound vertically and creating graphical sound tableaux. Its association with the immersive system gives the ensemble a wealth of vocabulary for the elaboration of a sound counterpoint to the gustatory experience.

Véritable challenge esthétique, technique et acoustique, le développement de ces enceintes a été orchestré par la designer Stéphanie Ledoux, associée au cabinet AW2 et à Michel Deluc, Directeur de la Recherche et du Développement de la marque Amadeus. Chaque enceinte réalisée en acier Corten embarque un transducteur coaxial à longue élongation, favorisant une réponse étendue à 60 Hz. Chaque transducteur disparaît derrière une face avant usinée au laser laissant deviner un K, pattern symbole de la Maison Krug.

Two speakers dedicated to low-frequency reproduction, named ML 12 K, were also developed. The 12-inch (30-centimeter) transducer is integrated behind a wood “grid”, worked directly in the material, letting the fine lines, the vertical “blades”, show through; alternating between emptiness and material.

Photo: Depiction of spatial sketches as stated by the composer R. Rivas in the composition phase. The background plane represents the ‘400 wines wall’ and its 18 loudspeaker device and the drawings represent sound localisation or trajectories designed inside this grid.

The House of Krug

The story of the House of Krug illustrates the amazing adventure of its founder, Joseph Krug a visionary non-conformist with an uncompromising philosophy. Having understood that the true essence of Champagne and go beyond established rules.

Beyond the expectations of his time, his dream was to be able to offer the very best Champagne he could create each year, regardless of annual variations in climate.

Respecting the individuality of each plot and its wine, as well as building an extensive library of reserve wines from many different years, Joseph Krug was able to found the first and only House that is able to create a prestige cuvee every year. Krug Champagnes are all of the same undisputed quality, without any hierarchy among them. They are all different expressions of nature distinguished by their composition and rarity.

Since 1843, six generations of the Krug family have maintained the dream, enriching Joseph’s vision and savoir-faire.

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