As a champagne house, Moët & Chandon is almost exclusively associated with its Brut Impérial. The green bottle, gold foil and crowning red seal are ubiquitous across the world and practically form the default when a layman thinks of champagne. Though the Brut Impérial is slated to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year, we’d all do well to remember that Moët & Chandon champagne extends far beyond one popular expression. The house has decided to remind us of that fact with the release of the next wine in its portfolio, the Grand Vintage 2012.
The Grand Vintage is Moët & Chandon’s way of articulating the excellence of the grapes harvested in a single year by transforming that yield into pristine champagne. This precise craft is the reason why, since the genesis of the line in 1842, only 74 vintages have been released. Because Champagne has such a temperamental climate, not every year’s harvest results in grapes worthy of being a part of the Grand Vintage line, which explains why there was a gap in the collection since the release of the 2009.
2012 looked to be another fraught year, with dramatic seasonal changes. Frost that extended all the way to spring, hailstorms and downpours, as well as a heatwave in summer crucified the vineyards, and yet, 2012 turned out to be a beauty born by the scourge.
We were recently in Champagne, at the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Reserve for the launch of the 2012 expression. As a blend of 41 percent Chardonnay, 26 percent Pinot Munier and 33 percent Pinot Noir, the wine are underscored by notes of ripe fruit and fresh blossoms. White apricot and flowers burst on the palate with the first crisp sip, with a pleasant acidity underscored by touches of walnut, hazelnut and pear. Beyond the taste, the 2012 evokes the vitality of spring moving into summer in the mind as you continue with your pour.
Champagne is not just an aperitif or meant to be drunk on its own, even one as fine as the 2012. Food and champagne make natural pairings too — a statement that Moët & Chandon flaunted in the most appropriate way possible, with a meal at Alleno Paris. Chef Yannick Alleno’s three Michelin-starred restaurant has a Grand Vintage tasting room within that invites guests to pick their wine, and have either amuse bouches or entire course meals crafted around their selection.
With the 2012, the chefs prepared fresh scallops wrapped in veal tartare with a consommeé of veal and scallops. Alleno’s creation kept in perfect time with the wine, given how the combination of sweet and earthy in the dish mirrored the delicate balance found in the champagne.
Culinary potential aside, the 2012 is also an ideal investment to make for your collection, with an ideal cellar time of five to 10 years, though it could last for longer. This single harvest champagne has truly suffered great lengths to be bottled, standing testament to the exacting craft that goes beyond the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage collection.