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Moët & Chandon ‘Grand Vintage’ 2015 – the story of a luminous morning

Richard Juhlin

Richard Juhlin

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Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin feature a new vintage of a true classic – ‘Grand Vintage’ 2015 from Moët & Chandon.

[ featured story by Moët & Chandon ]

Read the full story below.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

[ featured story by Moët & Chandon ]

Moët & Chandon is proud to unveil its Grand Vintage 2015 in white and rosé – the House’s 76th vintage and 45th rosé vintage – made from grapes harvested in the late summer of 2015, characterized by ripeness and enveloping quality, and blended into champagnes of exceptional tenderness. 

‘Each Grand Vintage is my interpretation of a specific year, and as such, it is unique and will only be seen once. The Grand Vintage is a chance to discover the originality of a particular year through my eyes. It is not a ‘summary’ of the year but rather my interpretation of what the year represented. Like a photographer who frames a shot, I select the wines that will ultimately compose the final blend’

Benoit Gouez
Cellar Master – Moët & Chandon

THROWBACK TO THE CONDITIONS AND HARVEST OF 2015

The year 2015 tells a story of a bright light and summer heat.  It was, in many ways, a year of awakening, brought on by the consciousness of a warming climate and its impact on the Champagne region. 

The harvest, which lasted 21 days, got underway on September 7 under bright light in a serene atmosphere, despite the heterogeneous progression of fruit maturity from hydric stress. Within days of the start of harvest, heavy showers battered the vineyards. Nevertheless, the fruit had matured well, with good concentration and striking aromas. Red-skinned grapes were exceptional: the Meuniers were splendid, and the Pinot Noirs revealed a maturity with a powerful, fruity nose and full-bodied finish. The fruit was healthy with well-ripened grapes radiating brilliantly.

At the end of a serene harvest, grape health and yield were satisfactory. Incessant rains, despite creating challenging conditions for pickers, did not impact the health and quality of the grapes. The juices flowed well, and maturity was good with an average of 10.5% Vol of potential alcohol. With 6.9 g H2SO4/L and an average pH of 3.09, the acidity was below the ten-year average, without cause for concern, given that the value was close to those of 2005 and 2006. In the year 1999 or 2003, one found lower levels of acidity, even though those years resulted in generous, outstanding vintages.

While an unprecedented drought from March to August threatened the nitrogen richness of grapes, especially in the Chardonnay, winemakers ensured proper fermentation and obtained interesting wines full of character. The aromatic freshness of the Meuniers and Pinot Noirs were preserved: healthy and ripe, they showed a full and powerful fruitiness and a structure conducive to long ageing.

The Cellar Master was able to select wines made from the region’s three grape varieties in quality levels that met the exigencies of a Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage from both the House’s superb estate and an extraordinary diversity of wines provided by vineyard partners.

‘The year 2015 was one of awareness and awakening towards climate change, both in the vineyard and also in the world. Grand Vintage 2015 is a champagne of contemplation – it marks the start of a new day’ 

BENOIT GOUEZ
CELLAR MASTER – MOËT & CHANDON

TASTING NOTE – Benoit Gouez

‘The year 2015 was marked by extreme climactic conditions. A clement winter turned into a warm spring, then a dry summer brought a dazzlingly bright light, some water stress and record heat. When Benoît Gouez, Moët & Chandon’s cellar master, and his team tasted the still wines after harvest, they discovered a well-ripened fruit that told a story of light, in a year marked by the brightness of an ardent sun. 

Creating a blend for a Grand Vintage at Moët & Chandon is like working with negative film – you can see the shapes and contours, you can be confident in the result, but you do not know exactly how it will look until you develop the photo

Benoit Gouez – Cellar Master, Moët & Chandon

GRAND VINTAGE 2015

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2015, born in a year of sharp contrasts, is a ripe, tender, and enveloping champagne. It is defined by its lemon-yellow color, luminous reflections, fine bubbles and creamy foam.  Its bouquet expresses restraint before subtly hinting at a soft and fresh white-green universe. Notes of breadcrumbs, fresh brioche and almond paste give way to elderflower and jasmine, then to white peach and watermelon, completed by elements of garrigue at dawn. The palate is direct and confident. The generous structure, with floral, aniseed and mentholated nuances, brings lightness and freshness to a sun-kissed vintage. The finish lingers on a slightly sappy note, with a delicate bitterness evoking fresh almonds.

TASTING NOTE – Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin

‘As the infamous Zusuki fly destroyed parts of the 2014 harvest at Moêt & Chandon, Benoit Gouez was relieved and pleased when the next harvest yielded such large quantities of whole and magnificent clusters of grapes as 2015 produced. Overall, 2015 is an easily worked uncomplicated vintage that is very similar to the last vintage in 2022. The potential alcohol was high and the acidity really low. On the plus side, the phenolic ripeness was superb and the richness of extract, chalky salinity and a grapefruit tannic bitterness provided contrasting flavor details that offset the low acidity. This is surely the melody of the future as the climate gets warmer and Champagne growers have to find other ways to create resilience and balanced harmony in their wines.

The dosage should also be lower and in this specific case we are down to 5 grams of sugar. I think Benoit convinced us all of the wine’s good storage potential and development by opening a series of vintages with similar warm climate characteristics. 2003 and 1999 perhaps most clearly showed that these types of vintages almost stay in growth for 15 years or so. I miss the house’s reductively roasted character here, but am impressed by the full roundness and nuttiness that the wine shows from the start. The fruit is broad, but not flattering and the mousse may feel a little too aggressive as freshly disgorged. Fortunately, it’s a problem that will be solved in a couple of months. Anyway, I won’t be opening my bottles until my 70th birthday as I expect a great experience if my nose and brain are still with me.’

87(90)p

FOOD AND WINE PAIRING

GRAND VINTAGE 2015

Food pairing with Grand Vintage 2015 begins with the choice of a main ingredient (meat, fish, vegetable) to be cooked appropriately as a foundation to establish texture and juiciness that matches the wine’s ripeness. Secondary ingredients echo the tenderness of the champagne.

Textures best suited to the Grand Vintage 2015 are frothy and airy, to harmonize with that of the champagne itself which is enveloping, tender, and caressing.  The desired objective is the soft, dense consistency of a cotton flower, or a dense yielding mousse, like a sabayon.

This champagne calls for delicate flavors that will not overwhelm the palate. It beckons delicate spices that complement the tenderness of a fish or meat dish, slow-cooked to melt-in-the-mouth. Ideal choices are delicate and exotic white fruits, light and herby jus, small green vegetables (broad beans, peas) and a vegetable garnish of watercress, parsley, tarragon, and artichoke heart.  As always, the pairing calls for adjusting the salinity to underscore the flavors and highlight the dialogue between the dish and the Grand Vintage 2015.

Inspirational dishes for this food pairing are winter melon steak with almond powder; snacked scallop tempura with tarragon; or green tomato gazpacho with roasted langoustine.  

A tender veal or an Iberico pluma pork are also suitable choices, slow-cooked then pan-fried to remain pink and juicy. In the seafood category, cod with thin slices of honeydew melon, duck jus and sorrel, a green tomato gazpacho with roasted langoustines, flash-seared scallops, or tarragon foam broth topped with almonds are inspirational. Vegetables must be cooked lightly to retain their crunchiness.

Q&A WITH CELLAR MASTER BENOÎT GOUEZ

1. What is the story of this Champagne?

The story of this Champagne is the story of the year 2015. A year marked by exceptional sunshine and drought from March to August. The growing concern about water stress on the vines was swept away by welcome rains in August and then weather conducive to ripening. In the end, it was a heterogeneous harvest in terms of maturation but quite serene. 

2. Why do you say this is the story of the year 2015?

The important thing to remember is that a Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage is a blend of three different grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier – all from the same harvest year. While each has its unique personality, all of these wines have gone through the same cycle, the same weather conditions, the same challenges and the same joys.

3. How can you make a great Champagne after such an unusual year?

The drought had an impact on the nitrogen richness of the grapes, especially for the Chardonnay. We had to be very attentive to ensure proper fermentation. In the end, we obtained interesting wines full of character. The Meuniers and Pinot Noirs, very healthy and ripe, showed a full and supple fruitiness and a structure conducive to long ageing.

4. Back in 2015, how did you imagine the aromatic profile of Grand Vintage Rosé 2015?

Always difficult to predict because we work like a photographer with a negative that reveals itself six years later.

5. How is Grand Vintage different from Moët Impérial?

A Grand Vintage will tell the story of a specific dimension of the year with its most intriguing wines, whereas with the Brut Impérial, we seek constancy.

6. What makes the Grand Vintage 2015 such a delicious champagne?

Our champagnes are made to be enjoyed, either on their own or with food, and this Grand Vintage is no exception.  It is in fact exceptionally delicious, both tender and enveloping. It is made with the highest quality grapes ripened in a hot, dry year of bright sunshine, and one can in fact taste a tender floral freshness, the ripeness of the fruit and even enchanting hints of fresh almonds.  The Grand Vintage Rosé in turn has a wonderful intensity and spicy presence.    

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