Risk pays off for champagne house


debbie@thestar.com.my 

IT was a giant leap but one of the oldest champagne houses in the world rode on the new wave and brought their products to the next level.  

Moet et Chandon has recently unveiled their first vintage series of the millennium, the Grand Vintage 2000, and it was definitely something fresh and dynamic in their centuries old portfolio.  

The vintage was kept and bottled seven years after the grape harvest in 2000 and this was the longest duration that the Champagne house has ever held on before releasing a vintage series. 

“We usually take about three to four years but since this is the first in the millennium series, we wanted to do something different and also take the brand to another level.  

“After seven years, it is almost on par with Dom Perignon that takes a similar period of time before it releases a vintage series,” said Moet et Chandon brand ambassador Francois Portail.  

Growing demand: As Asians are becoming more discerning about their drink, champagne seems to the preferred choice.

“This is a big step for the brand because the Grand Vintage is a top luxury product and what we want to do is to provide upgraded champagne for our customers,” Portail said. “Our consumers are now more educated, more demanding and has higher and more complex tastes so it is only appropriate for us to catch up.”  

Portail also said that Moet et Chandon was no longer the little brother of Dom Perignon but was now regarded to be on equal footing.  

“Instead, now they are like two big brothers. Dom Perignon’s style is very authentic, fine, and elegant while Moet et Chandon is very stylish,” Portail said. 

The tasting notes of the Blanc vintage include green apple, fresh cut grass, pineapple, apricots, toast, and it also has a long after taste while the Rose vintage carries a taste of fruitiness, blackcurrant, strawberries, and a tinge of spice.  

Portail said that long after taste was an indication of a very good vintage champagne.  

The vintage was originally intended for release last year but the Chef de Cave at Moet et Chandon Benoit Gouez took the risky step of waiting for another year after tasting the bubbly in 2006. 

“Gouez felt that there was something missing and it was bold of him to wait for another year before releasing the vintage. And of course it was a fantastic decision,” Portail said. 

Although the global team was ready to market the vintage last year, Benoit’s decision halted all plans but it was reflective of the brand’s commitment to good quality. 

“Our house of champagne is not just about marketing and lifestyle, we are also focused on taste and maturity,” Portail said. 

Proper methods: Portail guiding participants in a master class through the tasting of Grand Vintage 2000.

The year 2000 was chosen for the vintage as it was really a good albeit difficult year for grape planting. 

“It wasn’t an easy year because in spring there was a mixture of heat as well as frost which made it difficult for the grapes to mature. In July, there was heavy rainfall and that really scared us,” Portail said. 

“But the turning point came in August when sunshine greeted us and helped with the maturity and the grapes dried just in time.”  

The changing weather conditions distressed some of the vineyard’s employees and everyone thought that it was going to be tough.  

“But now it’s amazing to see how different the 2000 vintage taste compared to a 1999. There’s a huge diversity and this truly marks the beginning of a new era for Moet et Chandon,” Portail said.  

The future for the champagne house is looking good as demand for bubbly has increased especially in Asia. 

“Asians are drinking less spirits and opting more for champagne and wine, this is especially evident in Japan and China. As consumers become more discerning, the demand will grow even bigger,” Portail said.  

Riche Monde Malaysia is now providing customised master classes for corporate or group clients who are interested in leaning more about wine and champagne.  

The master classes allow participants to have an interactive experience with renowned brand ambassadors and share experiences with others rather than the usual textbook setting to learn more about the beverages.  

“The champagne is quite a complex drink and it’s interesting for champagne aficionados to learn more about the bubbly in detail through these classes,” Portail said. 

The Grand Vintage 2000 and Grand Vintage Rose 2000 are now available at various retailers and F&B outlets. 

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