Moët & Chandon keeps on sparkling -- 300 years & counting
Many business owners know the challenge of building a company to the top rung of their industry. Those that succeed see the challenge of keeping it there.
For nearly 300 years, Moët & Chandon has dominated the sales and often, the critical acclaim of France's Champagne. What does it take to maintain and advance the most celebrated wine house in the world's most famous wine region?
Quality, consistency and teamwork, according to Marie-Christine Osselin, Wine Quality and Communication Manager for Moët.
"Our size is huge, our spirit is artisanal," explains Osselin during our recent luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria, Chicago.
Huge, yes. According to The Drinks Business (12th December 2016), Moët's Brut Imperial label -- in 2019, celebrating its 150th anniversary -- accounts for 30 million bottles, trouncing the runner-up by one-third. Sales of all Moët labels approach 10% of the entire region. So, of all Champagne enjoyed around the world, one in every 10 bottles bears the name Moët.
Moët owns 1,200 vineyard hectares -- the region's most significant holding -- with access to 5,000 more. Winemakers were challenged to maintain quality for Brut Imperial along with other sales drivers, White Star demi-sec and the prestigious cuvee, Dom Pérignon. So, White Star production ended in 2009; Dom Pérignon is now a separate entity.
"We wanted capacity to choose our finest grapes for Brut Imperial'' says Osselin.
With focused vineyard management and cleaner fruit, Moët dropped Brut Imperial's dosage to 9 grams per liter. Other houses raised theirs to 12 grams per liter, the EU's upper limit for Brut. (Dosage is the dose of sugar added to Champagne to balance acidity; the sweetness also hides faulty flavors.)
Each year, Moët makes and analyzes 800 to 900 separate wines, with about 100 selected for the Brut Imperial blend.
Says Osselin, "We guarantee that our customer has consistently precise, complex and clean flavors, whether they enjoy Moët in Paris, Hong Kong or Rio."
Or your backyard. Unique among Champagne houses, Moët employs a team in each major market, ensuring wide availability from boutique shops to grocery chains, conveniently chilling in the cold box.
"We bring people into the category," says Peggy Lanigan, Chicagoland Business Development Manager. "When people shop for wine, we want it to be easy for them to say, 'Why not Champagne?' "
Susie Mesrobian, Director of Events and Education for Chicago's fine wine merchant Flickinger Wines, values the teamwork. "Moët is all about education and building a customer base that knows and values their brand. At a recent dinner, our young, professional crowd learned Moët 's style and how they achieve that year after year. It was educational and fun." Seemingly delicious too. Mesrobian's favorite pairing was Squash Blossom Rangoon and Grand Vintage Rose. (Flickinger Wines specializes in a broad selection of the finest wines from across the globe. Visit www.flickingerwines.com)
So, for your next cold, frothy one, make it Moët. You'll enjoy a delicious drink with a taste of business acumen that has born fruit for nearly three centuries and keeps getting better.
Brut Imperial, Non-Vintage: In the glass, tones of sunshine and very fine, creamy bubbles. On the palate, both vivacious and sophisticated; dry, with pear and apple flavors, mineral nuance and a finish that calls for another sip, especially when paired with creamy cow's milk cheese, smoked seafood, oysters, or the Waldorf's creamy polenta. $40.
Grand Vintage, 2012: Complex and firm. Five years maturation on the lees provides aromas of baked goods and roasted nuts. Quite dry, only five grams per liter dosage. The blend of 41% chardonnay with 59% Pinots Noir and Meunier yields flavors and structure rich enough for meats, grilled seafood and veggies. $75.
"Grand Vintage Rosè," 2012: Only the 43rd growing season to win winemakers' approval for a Rosè. With five years of maturation and a predominance of Pinot, the wine is rich and firm and will reward the patience of additional cellaring. $85
• Mary Ross is an Advanced Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers), a Certified Wine Educator (Society of Wine Educators) and recipient of the Wine Spectator's "Grand Award of Excellence." Write to her at food@daily herald.com.
Ross' choiceWine: Rosè Impèrial
Producer: Moët & Chandon
Region: Champagne, France
Availability: In boutiques and major chains, $55
Distributed by: Southern/Glazer, Bolingbrook
Tasting Notes: Now that Champagne weather is here, set this racy rosè in ice and fire up the grill. The blend of predominantly red grapes provides firm structure, with nine grams per liter dosage softening any hard edge. Dry, with complexity including strawberry, minerals, a dash of ginger and delicate toast, the wine makes a full-flavored and versatile food complement, with grilled salmon, filet and vegetables, and rich appetizers like beef carpaccio while the grill heats up.