Clos19 speaks to Marie-Christine Osselin, Moët & Chandon’s Wine Quality and Communication Manager who shared with us her extensive knowledge on Moët Impérial champagne style, food pairings, hosting tips how to taste the new Grand Vintage 2012 and how the brand plans to celebrate Moët & Chandon's 150th Anniversary in style this year.
N.M: Welcome! I'm Naomi Mansbach with Clos19 and we have here with us today Marie-Christine Osselin, Moët & Chandon ’s Wine Quality and Communications Manager.
N.M: Marie-Christine thank you so much for being here with us today.
M.C.O: Thank you very much for having me.
N.M: Tell me about the first time you ever tasted Moët & Chandon champagne and what that experience was like?
M.C.O: I think I can't remember the first time I had Moët & Chandon, but I do remember for the rest of my life, the first tasting I had with Benoît Gouez, the Chef de Cave. It was an incredible moment. Moët & Chandon champagnes are so amazing and impressive and when you are with the Chef de Cave, it's an incredible moment. Drinking champagne is particular and it's not just about champagne it's about the moment. The people you are with, the celebration or not, the tasting and it's always a great moment.
N.M: Can you describe the sensation of the first sip of Moët Impérial Brut?
M.C.O: The first sip of Moët Impérial Brut is about a very elegant and bright fruitiness. Bright fruitiness is the pillar, the first pillar of the Moët & Chandon style and we work from the harvest to the wine-making, to the champagne bottling, to the preparation of the champagne around this bright fruitiness. We want you to have a "wow" impression of freshness and fruitiness.
N.M: Delicious. How would you describe the Moët & Chandon house style and what are the aromas that are characteristic of its Brut Impérial?
M.C.O: So the Moët Impérial style, the Moët & Chandon style is about this bright fruitiness, first. Then, a seductive palate and then, an elegant maturity. In terms of aromas, for Moët Impérial we can talk about green apple, fresh pear, something crispy and light on the flavors. White flowers, linden, jasmine flavors depending on the day, because we don't taste the same way each day of our life and in terms of maturation, it's French pastry notes, light brioche notes.
N.M: Wonderful. Marie-Christine, it's Moët Impérial's 150th Anniversary this year. How is Moët & Chandon celebrating? And what can we expect for the next 150 years from Moët & Chandon?
M.C.O: I can't say today what we expect for the next 150 years. But I can say you know it's a very interesting year for us. It's a beautiful celebration. We are so proud to blend, still with the same spirit this champagne from 1869. Moët Impérial is very important for us because it's the flagship of the range, it's the most beautiful representative champagne for the Moët & Chandon style. We blend it each year the same, for the same tastes for everybody around the world. It's the champagne that is obvious when you want to please many people. Moët Impérial is made to be very, how can I say, very consensual you know? To please many people, to please young and older, men and women, because it's very well balanced on the fruitiness. Not too bitter, not too acidic, not too sweet. Just the perfect combination of those sensations.
N.M: How does Moët & Chandon consider sustainable practices in the environment in its day-to-day?
M.C.O: Sustainable development is very important when you work in wine-making because we work with nature. The nature gives us the first thing we need: the grapes. And the grapes need to be perfectly mature, perfectly healthy, if you want to make a good wine so you have to protect the nature if you want to make good wines. In terms of sustainable development in Moët & Chandon, it's a very important point. So we have a certification for all our vineyards one thousand and two hundred hectares that are certified around sustainable viticulture but in the cellars it's also important. We have certification around environment management, energy management, we take care about the water we use for our wine-making. We use in viticulture less pesticides than ever less fertiliser than ever and it's absolutely definitely a point very important today and for the future.
N.M: Yes, it really is so important. Tell me, Marie-Christine what makes a Grand Vintage and can you tell us about the 2012 vintage?
M.C.O: Yes! So first, nature makes the Grand vintage because we don't decide from the harvest if we do a vintage or not. It's too early in the year. Everything comes after the base wine-tasting. In Champagne, we do the harvest and then we press the grapes, we do base wines which are still white wines and we blend them together to create our champagne and it's at this moment, we taste all together we are a team, it's a teamwork but the Chef de Cave because he is the guardian of the Moët & Chandon style, decides if it's a vintage here and the vintage here is particularly good first, because we used the best wines for this blend and it must be particular also.
A new Grand Vintage is a new person in the range, new wine in the family of the Grand Vintage. The 2012 is the 74th Grand Vintage. We don't launch a vintage every year and Benoît Gouez, the Cellar Master decides if he feels that it's something interesting we have something to tell you about this year, we launch a vintage. We create a vintage. So it's a particular blend with the best wines from the same harvest. The particularity of 2012 is the delicate freshness he has. When you taste 2012 Grand Vintage, it's like when you are at the end of spring just beginning of summer. You have beautiful fruitiness maturity from the grapes but also a certain intensity in terms of freshness. So it's a beautiful balance, beautiful harmony and a delicate, very delicate champagne. And I know that here in the US, we are really looking forward to having that Grand Vintage 2012 come to Clos19.
N.M: Marie-Christine, what is the best way to serve champagne? I know a lot of people think that the best way to serve champagne is a flute but that's not really always the case.
M.C.O: So please don't break your flutes! No, the flutes are very beautiful it's perfect to see the effervescence, the bubbles. For a toast it's magical but there are many moments of tasting with champagne. If you really want to dive into the complexity of champagne, it can be a Grand Vintage but can be also Moët Impérial which has a certain complexity, certain level of complexity. If you want to let your champagne breath because it needs to breathe.
Champagne is a wine with two fermentations, a long time on the lease in the cellar so it needs to breathe to reveal its personality, its aromas. So if you want that kind of tasting to dive into your champagne, you need to have a larger glass than a flute. So for example, in Moët & Chandon we have designed the Grand Vintage flute which is the perfect combination between a glass white wine
glass and the flute. If you don't have that kind of glass, you can ask your restaurant for example you can ask for a white wine glass and you can't wheel it because it's to breathe. And we have wonderful Moët & Chandon glasses on Clos19.
N.M: Perfect! Tell me, what is the ideal temperature to serve your champagne?
M.C.O: So the ideal temperature is 50 to 54 degrees and if you are in a rush for example sometimes we are in a rush, we have people that come at home, you can have champagne! You just have to take an ice bucket, fill it with a third of water, cold water, and 2/3 of ice cubes and after 15 minutes, just enough time for a shower, your champagne is ready to drink.
N.M: That's perfect. Should you ever drink champagne on ice or mix it in cocktails?
M.C.O: Yes! Why not? I think that if you want to if you want to make a good mix, if you want to make a good cocktail you need to have very good ingredients, so Moët & Chandon champagne is one of these.
Just to give you just one advice, if you really want to feel the particularity of your champagne in your cocktail, choose a simple cocktail with a fewer ingredients: three to four ingredients and you reveal
a particular expression, particular personality of a champagne. So yes, you can enjoy champagne in cocktails. In terms of ice, yes we trust on champagne on ice because we have created and that's why we have created Ice Impérial which is a particular champagne designed, tailor made to be enjoyable on ice. It's a particular combination of very special wines we have selected for their body, for their structure, for their acidity. You have always the three grapes: Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay and Ice Impérial is made to reveal a particular expression of the fruitiness, the Moët & Chandon fruitiness. It's an exotic explosion of fruitiness. So you fill your glass with Ice Impérial champagne and then you put three ice cubes and you reveal a beautiful champagne on ice.
N.M: I'm really looking forward to having some champagne on ice this Summer!
M.C.O: Yes, you have to!
N.M: Marie-Christine, when I host, I love to have gatherings that are light-hearted and fun. I love to create memories. If you were having your friends over for a pre-dinner drink, what would you serve as an aperitif?
M.C.O: So if it's summertime and we are outside it's hot, obviously I will go with Ice Impérial, Blanc or Rosé, it depends on the people I'm with and it depends on my mood. I really enjoy Rosé Ice or White Ice. The rest of the year, for casual occasions and to welcome people, Moët Impérial is a very good wine. Moët Impérial, or Moët Impérial Rosé also because those two are really well balanced and made to please many people, so it's easy to welcome people with a glass of Moët Impérial.
N.M: Great. Do you have any general tips pairing champagne with food? The most and the first rule if you want to pair champagne and food and if it's Extra Brut and Brut champagne I mean the champion with the lowest dosage - the lowest quantity of sugar, please go with salty dishes. Salt reveals the freshness and the fruitiness of your champagne because in a glass of champagne, in the taste of a champagne you have the different tastes. You have sweetness, you have bitterness, you have a little acidity, you have umami in sensation from the yeast but you don't have salt so when you put salt in the food pairing you reveal a new champagne and that's why we say that oysters, seafood, sushi, scallops go well with champagne. But it's more open. You can have for example, meat with champagne. If you want to have beautiful trendy barbecue, for example with grilled meat, you can have Moët Impérial Rosé or Grand Vintage Rosé, because the part of red wine in the blend permits you to have beautiful revelation with a beef carpaccio for example and Moët Impérial Rosé.
You have that kind of little tips on Clos19 website and in terms of dessert because I know champagne (we know!) that champagne can be a wine for celebration and wedding cake or happy birthday cake. You can go to Nectar Impérial Blanc or Nectar Impérial Blanc Rosé for that kind of occasion because the sugar content, the dosage of those champagnes link with the sugar in your
in your dessert.
N.M: If you were hosting dinner and serving Grand Vintage 2012, what would you suggest as the ideal food pairings?
M.C.O: I would say I like to link the spirit of the champagne with the spirit of the dish. And 2012 really expresses a certain freshness from end of spring so I would say maybe a beautiful piece of poultry with a light sauce, light creamy sauce with a touch of citrus or fresh herbs to have a certain freshness. It can be poultry, it can be scallops, it can be a beautiful white fish. I think the interesting and the important point is the cooking. Your meat, your fish must be juicy because champagne is a wine with texture so from your ingredient from the cooking of your ingredient you must have a certain juiciness. Find something a little crispy in your dish to answer all the bubbles of your champagne and that's it. It can be very easy please make it simple and you'll have very beautiful pairing.
N.M: Great, I like simple! When you give your friends a gift of champagne what are your preferred choices?
M.C.O: Depends on my friends. Is it a friend who knows or not champagne? Do I want to let him/her discover a new vintage? Or do I want to introduce him or her to champagne? Is it Summer, winter? But surely I will find something on Clos19 website. And the thing is I can order something and let him or her discover his/her gift at home. If I am closer to her/him, I prefer to bring the gift but it's easy to find good champagne on Clos19 for gifts.
N.M: And we have gift messages that people can send with them. Which is good! So Marie-Christine, it's been so wonderful having you here today. We've really enjoyed spending our time with you and thank you so much for joining us.
M.C.O: Thank you for having me the US.
N.M: And thank all of you for joining us too!