The world’s largest producer of champagnes by a fair margin, Moët et Chandon is a juggernaut of a house based in Epernay, Champagne.
Founded in 1743 by Claude Moët, the brand now sits within the prestigious LVMH group (as the M, no less) as one of it’s most distinguishable brands. With 1150 hectares of vineyards and a production volume of some 28 million bottles annually it is without rival in terms of size. To meet the demands Moët has had to apply some very innovative thinking to its manufacturing; such as reliance on robotics to move vintages around with minimal downtime.
However with such a vast volume of grapes and a wide range of sources the question arises; how on Earth can you maintain a level of quality given the scale? And more so how do you possibly create one gigantic annual blend? The answer is simply; they can’t.
Champagne of this magnitude means that with so many blending wines available, currently around three differing batches of Imperial NV Brut are made per annum. So Moët you buy in March will in all likelihood not be the same batch you buy at Christmas. Additionally, how fast must the champagnes be rotated during maturation to meet demand or free up storage space?
For Brut Imperial, aging is a moderately short 24 months (the minimum by law is 18 months) which helps speeds up rotation but also reduces exposure to lees (fermenting yeasts) which may reduce the character and flavour of the wine significantly.
Brut Imperial an exercise in clinical timing and superior resources but is the resulting product a fabulous wine?
From: Epernay, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: ~$60 a bottle available from most liquor stores
Blend Ratio (%): Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier (30-40/30-20/30-40)
Aging: 2 Years
Sipped: Early January 2017
In the Glass:
Look: Clear mid Golden hue, with great bubble vigour and fine size.
Smell: Slight wet dough and yeast odours with sharp nose of sweet, toffee honey and notes of tropical fruits
Taste: The first sip of Brut Imperial is not as lively as the aroma suggests. There lacks the honeyed sweetness you are enticed with, and instead your are met with a strong introduction of tartness and scorched lemon rinds.
Within the tart profiles you can search for cranberries and a complexity of herbs (some fungal notes), but this a wine that is strongly dry – leaving a bitter and slightly smoked sensation on the middle of the tongue on the finish with traces of tobacco.
In spite of my efforts I find it all gets a bit brutal, in fact I couldn’t go more than one glass that night.
Party Potential: This is the go to NV champagne, and fills most champagne bowls – but mostly due to the strength of the brand. I would recommend to err on the side of quality rather than branding if you really want to look after your guests – maybe even impress them by offering something alternative that is delicious. As a BYO party plonk Moet is done all the time.
As a Gift: Moët is the most common, safe option champagne you can buy for anyone who knows something or nothing about Champagne, but not necessarily the best.
At Home: Moët is an anytime drink – parties, outings, the races – and even at home with friends. Such is the brands versatility.
Matching: For the batch I had (very dry) I would recommend a nice strong salty match to flavoured pork, cured meats and crisps.
Score & Verdict:
Tasted: 2018 (4.75), 2016 (4.5)
At $60 I feel it is only reasonable value for the quality.
How did I drink it?
Sitting back watching the Tennis on TV and willing on Moët brand ambassador Roger Federer. You would have thought that would make it taste sweet, right?
How did you drink it?
And how did you find it? Let me know!
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