As sparkling wine enthusiasts, Katie and I couldn't turn down a rare opportunity to try some of Moët & Chandon's latest releases with the Champagne house's chef de cave Benoit Gouez himself. At a private tasting, we sampled a curated collection as Gouez talked to us about Champagne's evolving market. See what one of France's notable winemakers had to say about the American palate — and what we thought of his bubbly! — when you keep reading.
- Imperial: In the past couple of years, the 268-year-old house has phased out its popular White Star in America, in favor of a new nonvintage, Imperial. Like its predecessor, Imperial is a luxurious but accessible champagne, but it has updated packaging and a slightly different palate. The reason for the change? "The American market is maturing very fast," Gouez explained, citing a newfound preference for more complex sparkling wine. Indeed, this bottling was noticeably drier and nuanced in comparison to White Star.
- 2002 Grand Vintage: The house only releases vintages during the best harvests, in years when grapes are mature and "clean" (free of rot or botrytis). Unlike most Moët vintages, which are aged for five years, this nine-year-old release was kept in the cellar for seven years — the first since the 1930s to do so — to reach its fullest potential. The 2002 is worth the wait: it's creamy, with notes of citrus and honeysuckle, and it has a mouthwatering finish that's not overly acidic but leaves you longing for more.
- 2002 Grand Vintage Rosé: Talk about floral notes! This fruity yet dry rosé is well-balanced and has a pleasing clean finish.
- 1992 Grand Vintage: Select bottles from the 1992 vintage were disgorged in 2004 and are being re-released this year, in an attempt to, according to Gouez, "associate two vintages through a theme, to illustrate how vintages might evolve over the years." I was blown away by its complexity and sophistication: It had the same creamy and rich quality as the 2002, but an additional caramel-like warmth and nuttiness as a product of age.
Days later, I'm still reliving the experience of drinking the '92 in my mind. It's a lovely reminder that vintage Champagnes should be enjoyed more often — and that there's no time like the present to bust out a bottle of bubbly! What's the most memorable bottle you've ever had?