November 12, 2013

270 Years of Moët & Chandon

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Moët and Chandon is celebrating their 270th anniversary, and is offering a batch of ex-château Grand Vintage Collection wines through Sotheby's in London.  The auction is slated for tomorrow, and the consignment consists of 270 bottles, 174 magnums and 3 jeroboams spanning from 2004 all the way back to 1914.  I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a pre-auction tasting of some of the wines at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, hosted jointly by Moët Hennessey Diageo and Sotheby's.

After mingling (or in my case, being aloof and anti-social) for a little while sipping on the first flute, we took our seats to start the main event.  We would go through 6 different wines tonight spanning a few decades…

2004 Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage - made with 1/3 each of the 3 cépages.  Acidity slightly high  Pretty toasty nose, a little heavy but in a good way.  Easy to drink with a long finish.

1990 Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage Collection, disgorged October 2003 - released in two batches - in 1995 and 2008.  The bottles tonight were from the 2008 batch.  How beautiful this was!  Yeasty, bready like a fresh baguette.  Toasty and big nose, with coffee, a little dried apricot, caramelized, starting to turn into Chinese salty plum (話梅).  Soooo lovely.  Wonderful acidity balance, soft and voluptuous.  It's hard to imagine a more gorgeous wine.

1985 Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage Collection en magnum, disgorged November 2002 - nose was bigger, heavier and toastier compared to the 1990.  Toasty corn, with higher acidity in the nose, and some coffee.  Powerful and ripe on the front palate, but there's acidity on the back palate.

1975 Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage Collection en magnum, disgorged June 2002 - an interesting vintage in that it was 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay with no Pinot Meunier.  Very heavy toast in the nose, with what I thought was a hint of cumin.  Turning nutty with some coffee notes.  Smooth on the palate and pretty nice.

1962 Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage Collection en magnum, disgorged February 2013 - surprisingly vibrant, thanks to the very recent disgorgement.  Very nutty, with heavy toast, coffee and perhaps a hint of coconut.  Really lovely nose, and very smooth on the palate.

1990 Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé Collection - more red fruits, and fuller on the palate.  I was getting pretty buzzed by this point…

It was interesting to learn the philosophical and stylistic differences between Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage and Cuvée Dom Pérignon.  The former is made in the style which is representative of the Champagne region and also of the vintage, while the latter is only produced in years where it is possible to follow the specific Dom Pérignon style.

I came on an empty stomach, and initially turned away all the finger food offered by the waiters.  Half way through the tasting, though, I realized I was gonna pass out from being drunk if I didn't put some food in my stomach.  So I ended up eating bites that didn't exactly fall within the boundaries of my diet, even though this wasn't supposed to be a cheat meal for me…

This seemed to be a bloc of foie gras with a layer of crunchy layer of crumbs and some tropical fruit dip.

Salmon, salmon roe and sour cream

Foie gras lollipop

Some sort of beef roll with a creamy center and a bit of truffle

Vegetable tart

The wines tonight were very beautiful, and it was such a privilege to have been able to taste them.  Many thanks to Sotheby's for the kind invitation.

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