There is no doubt that Moet et Chandon is a world-renowned Champagne house, known for its luxurious connotations and pedigree. But just how special is it? Recently I was drinking a bottle of the non-vintage and happened to read an article that questioned whether or not it was living up to its name.
Our Moet et Chandon Brut NV was consumed with oysters with horseradish cream, and on a sunny day, it’s absolutely fantastic. I was once told by a Master of Wine that the quality and provenance of champagne did not matter, since it was a drink made to be enjoyed with people or with food. In other words, it wasn’t strictly a connoisseurs wine, and so it should be enjoyed and not criticised too much. Vintage champagnes deserve to be tested and rated, but non-vintage wines are there for a good celebration. This occasion was my graduation from University.
I do read wine bottles to see their tasting notes, but only after initially trying the champagnes or wines myself. The beautiful thing about Moet is its initial brioche and toasty notes only get better as it warms a little in the glass – you can store it cooled before consuming but letting it sit with minimal cooling, we found, brought it up to a better tasting level. It really opened after about half an hour, and was full of creaminess and sweet toast.
You do find yourself staring at the bottle in the sunshine, and the yellowy-cream brilliance in the glass is pretty captivating. It’s also rather hypnotic to watch the bubbles rise, don’t you find? It’s got a kind of strawy, citrusy pear flavor, with of course the strong brioche. It’s very approachable and a great mid-level French champagne. The vintages are a deeper experience.
After our oysters we focused purely on the champagne. My fiancée made the comment that our life could be a lot worse than Moet and Oysters, and I definitely agree. But it is such a branded commodity, full of expectation – does it merit a place as one of the world’s best champagnes? Maybe it’s so well marketed that we take its quality for granted. But recently I’ve been exposed to quite a few champagnes that are more boutique and carry as much, if not more, substance. There’s no doubt that Moet et Chandon is a special experience, like many of the other great Champagne houses such as Veuve Clicquot or Dom Perignon.
There’s some discussion that it’s not the quality of champagne slipping, but that growth in areas of the world not traditionally associated with champagne consumption have affected its results. Big brand champagne and spirit houses like Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy are not going to ride out a long term decline in sales, so when they increased their sponsorship of major events like the America’s Cup Sailing race, it was bound to help. But still, it does make you question whether it’s better to experience a lesser known, more boutique champagne for your next dinner party?
I might recommend these too:
1. Jacques Selosse Exquise NV
2. Champagne Delamotte (made by the makers of Salon) Blanc de Blanc 1999
3. ‘Cuvee Efflorescence’ Extra Brut Marie Courtin 2007
Good drinking to you!