A new blend by Moët & Chandon is the truest expression of the house’s range

Text by Jake Emen

Hidden among the estimated 100 million bottles stashed away in Moët & Chandon’s sprawling subterranean wine cellars is a Champagne like no other, the hard-earned result of a project two decades in the making. It’s what chef de cave Benoît Gouez refers to as his “state of the art”

He calls the release the ultimate expression of Moët’s range, incorporating a complicated mix of components representing three forms of Champagne maturation: chardonnay and pinot noir from 2003, aged in stainless steel; Moët’s showcase 1998, 2000, and 2002 Grand Vintages, partially matured in large oak casks; and last but perhaps most exciting, Moët’s 1993, 1998, and 1999 Grand Vintages, matured in bottle and then disgorged before incorporation.

“It’s not just a Champagne; it’s a wine from Champagne,” Gouez says, referring to its possession of the complexity and character you’d seek out in the inest oferings from any premier region. It unfolds sip by sip, layer by layer, with Moët’s signature bright, fruity notes complemented by a luscious and unparalleled well-roundedness.

MCIII first appeared several years ago, but is now available for the irst time in magnums. Gouez always defers to the magnum if given the chance, so much so that he refers to regular-size bottles merely as half magnums. And the large format isn’t the maison’s only new ofering this year, either. The 2009 Grand Vintage, the third vintage Gouez has created and seen all the way through to release since assuming his current role in 2005, is now on store shelves as well.

How is it, then, that certain years ascend to vintage status? “A vintage needs to have personality,”Gouez says, further describing it as an emotional rather than rational experience. “It’s more a matter of seduction.”

Alongside the 2009, Gouez has rereleased the 2002 Grand Vintage, now with 15 years of maturation
as opposed to the seven years Moët typically matures its vintages. “I consider it to be the older brother of the 2009,” Gouez says. So what better way to appreciate the two than together? “They have the same genetics. They’re diferent individuals in the same family.”

Moët isn’t the only house making an impact with noteworthy releases this year. Check out Besserat de Bellefon’s Cuvée des Moines Brut Millésime 2008, or blend of the monks, featuring the brand’s signature reduced-dosage winemaking technique, which makes a bottle of its bubbly a great mealtime companion. And just in time for summer, G.H. Mumm has unveiled its Grand Cordon Rosé, with an eye-catching, label-free bottle indented with its signature red ribbon.

For another summertime staple, look no further than Moët’s innovative Ice rendition of its lagship Impérial, blended to be best enjoyed when served over ice. “For me, what makes Moët & Chandon special in Champagne is its place between contemporary and authentic,” Gouez says. “It’s a ine line to be deeply rooted and to express yourself in a unique way.”

Clearly, if anyone thought sitting at the top of the mountain has made Moët lose its hunger or drive, look at something like Moët Ice Impérial or the insanely indulgent MCIII and think again. “If you don’t change, you die,” Gouez says.

I High-Low Summertime Champagne Pairings

It’s never a bad choice to reach for a bottle of Champagne during a celebration. Why stop there, though? It’s more versatile than you may imagine, and that includes both the appropriate times and settings for a glass of bubbly, as well as what you can pair with one—like fried chicken, at any time of the day or night.

“Champagne is the perfect pairing,” says Chad Spangler, cofounder of Washington, D.C.’s Service Bar, where a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée is matched on the menu in the “What the Cluck?” pairing with a bucket of fried chicken. “The carbonation changes the way our tongue senses and reacts to other flavors and fat. This, combined with the acidity, helps to enhance the flavor of the fried chicken, and the fat from the fried chicken helps to enhance the flavor of the Champagne.”

It’s also an excellent example of high-low pairing, wherein seemingly lowbrow or junk-food dishes stand perfectly side by side with a more prestigious o ering. “It is truly the prince flirting with the pauper,” Spangler says. “I think our mantra usually follows that we like to keep a casual attitude but seriously enjoy life’s luxuries. Sometimes those luxuries can be had without all the fuss that normally accompanies them.”

Gouez describes searching for all five flavors, including umami, in a pairing, while noting that the only one Champagne doesn’t o er is salt. “There’s a need to always find a dish with saltiness,” he says, referencing classic pairings such as oysters or caviar as cases in point. Beyond that, and also supporting the wonders of the fried-chicken-and-bubbles duo, remember that pairings almost always work best by showcasing simplicity. “The most important things—to be simple and salted,” Gouez says. “And sometimes most important is not ingredient, but texture.”

Try out some high-low at your next barbecue or beach outing by wielding the new Mini Moët Party Pack, a six-pack of personal-size Champagne bottles with a built-in ice bucket and golden flute toppers for sipping. —JE (Maxim USA)

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