What you didn't know about vintage Champagne

Women winemakers rule in Champagne, as we speak with Elise Losfelt, winemaker with Moët & Chandon about the new Grand Vintage 2004.

On vintage Champagne:
On vintage Champagne:
18 Mar 2015

On vintage Champagne:

“Non-vintage in Champagne makes up 90 per cent of the production, so on the other hand you have the vintage which is 10 per cent of the production — it’s rare, and it’s not made every year. Every vintage is unique and original because it’s an expression of the year. At Moët & Chandon our non-vintage is Impérial. It’s a rational choice. We are looking for a consensus among the team of the winemakers to make a decision of the blending. On the other side you have Grand Vintage. It’s an emotional and personal choice of the chef de cave of Moët & Chandon, Benoît Gouez. Since 2000 we started a change at Moët & Chandon with the Grand Vintage. Previously we were doing Moët & Chandon Vintage, now we are doing a Vintage by Moët & Chandon, which is a big change because the idea is to express the personality of the vintage before the style of Moët & Chandon. We are free to choose the varietals or the village from where the grapes come. So creating the Grand Vintage is really an act of freedom.”


What you didn't know about vintage Champagne
What you didn't know about vintage Champagne
18 Mar 2015

What you didn't know about vintage Champagne


On the new Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2004: “[With] Grand Vintage ’04, the harvest was really, really nice. The keywords for the harvest are: Plentiful, big crop, good health and good maturity. With this type of harvest we’re expecting the vintage to be quite sleek and elegant. After the seven years of maturation in the cellars, it has developed a roundness in the palate; a gracefulness that we weren’t expecting, so it was a good, good surprise… perfect for wine lovers. It has its complexity. When you drink it, it’s driven by citric aromas, so [there’s] lemon, grapefruit; and you have this acidic backbone when you drink it, and it develops on the mid-palate with a nice gracefulness and roundness. The acidic backbone helps you to have a long finish. If you want it to be complex, it can be complex. If you want to drink it easily, it’s really palatable.

On food pairing: “It’s perfect for food pairing. It’s pure, clean and fresh. At Moët & Chandon we have two chefs. We have worked with them for the food pairing and we have said we want to try to work on the citrusy side of the wine. So using the texture of raw fish, cooked in lemon, like doing a ceviche — cevichewith scallops, ceviche with sea bass using different citrus fruits so grapefruit, lemon, or yuzu. We have done another one which is foie gras with candied lemon. It’s just the perfect food pairing for 2004. [There is] the texture of the foie gras and the candied lemon just gives a little hit to the foie gras. It plays with the mouth, with the roundness on the mid-palate. It’s quite a long dish in the mouth too [like the 2004]. Food and wine is really a question of emotion. [But] there are some things that you shouldn’t do, like pairing sugary cake with a Grand Vintage because you’re just going to taste the acidity of the Grand Vintage... the sweetness of the cake kills the Champagne. It doesn’t kill a Champagne that is sweet, like Nectar Impérial, so you have to take a sweet Champagne in order to match with a dessert.

On tasting Champagne: If you want to do a really good food pairing, taste the Champagne, listen to your emotions, listen to what you feel in the Champagne. Try to play with it. Don’t forget the salt on your dish. In the Champagne you can have sweetness, you can have fruits, you can have texture and a little bit of tannins if you drink a rosé Champagne, but you don’t have salt. Salt is one key element to put on your dish, but not too much obviously.
 On Champagne beyond an aperitif: “I think it’s amazing. I think you have to drink Champagne for the aperitif and if you want to follow with Champagne for the rest of the meal it’s perfect. [With] Grand Vintage, you have different personalities — 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, have its own personalities. So working with Champagne that have assertive personalities, you can play a lot with it with food pairing. If you want to impress your friends, take a Champagne and work with it for a [whole] meal. A Grand Vintage would be perfect for that.”


What you didn't know about vintage Champagne
What you didn't know about vintage Champagne
18 Mar 2015

What you didn't know about vintage Champagne


On being a winemaker: “I come from a family of winemakers. I like to say I was born in a bottle of wine haha. I can’t remember any lunch or dinner with my family in which we haven’t talked about wine. I think my first sip of wine was when I was two years old. My mother [probably] put her finger in her glass and just made me try it. It was Christmas, I was just running everywhere and she said, ‘Come here, taste!’ Haha. That’s what we do with all my cousins, so I think that was my first taste of wine. I’m quite sure it happened with me.”

As a woman winemaker: “My grandmother was a winemaker, I think it was quite challenging at her time. My mother was a winemaker. I don’t think I feel any different challenge as a female winemaker [today]. I have the challenge to prove that I’m worth it, but I don’t feel any challenge as a female winemaker. At Moët & Chandon, in the team of the oenologists there are male, females, different ages, different origins, it’s really diverse. Diversity is our strength. [With] blending for Moët Impérial we are looking for diversity through the varietals, villages and years. We are looking for diversity through the winemakers too. It makes the blends.”

Fun Fact:

“Mo-ett” or “Mo-aye”?

Still don’t know how to pronounce Moët? Many have argued that it is pronounced “Mo-aye” because it is French Champagne and therefore the “T” is not pronounced. Elise Losfelt officially tells us it’s pronounced as a very quick Mo-ett (“ett” as in “met”), with the ending “T” sound. While its founder Claude Moët was indeed a French man, his surname has Dutch origins.

The story ‘What You Didn’t Know About Vintage Champagne’ first appeared in ELLE Singapore 

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