Monday, October 26, 2015

Moët Hennessy Luxury Champagne and Wine Tasting

Total Wine in Kendall (Miami, FL) recently hosted an event showcasing some of the top luxury Champagnes and Wines in Moët Hennessy's enormous porfolio. And they did it on #ChampagneDay! After an introduction by National Account Manager Matt Jobe, he passed the baton to Champagne Expert Tara O'Leary to lead us in an educational presentation (including sampling) of some of the most iconic brands in the category!

Tara started her presentation with some Champagne basics followed by a lot of information to justify the price of Champagne. With each point, she showed several examples to demonstrate exactly the amount of effort needed to make your favorite bubbly. Besides the authority of James Bond, she pointed to the Patient Craftsmanship needed to create fine Champagne along with the Quality and Rarity of the product.

Tara O'Leary starting her presentation
Whether it's the hand harvesting, hand riddling or hand disgourging of the lees, the unique terroir, noble grapes and tradition, or the fact that Champagne only produces 1% of the world's wines on land that costs $3.5 million per acre (14 times more than Napa), it's clear that Tara was able to make a case for the price of their Champagne. We were about to do the ultimate proof, though. Taste four of Moët Hennessy's top brands and two wines after that.

With each Champagne and wine sample, we were given some history and interesting facts about the brands. We talked about grape varieties (Champagne is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, and all are made with blends of the varieties), vintages, grand crus, weather, terroir, and Champagne's dislike of "flute" glasses.

We started with Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. This is a Grand Cru (meaning the grapes come from the top 17 grape villages, in this case eight of them). "Veuve" officially rhymes with LOVE, though I still might consider saying VewV depending on the crowd. I don't want to be beat up, but that's up to you! The French word means widow and names the matriarch and landowner that gave this wine-making business a name before her death in the mid 1800's. Made with 61% Pinot Noir and 39% Chardonnay grapes. Fairly dry, awesome sharp aroma, creamy and soft, fruity.

Next up... Two Dom Perignons, but not the Blanc you regularly see. Rather, we got to check out two much more rare Champagnes. First, props to Benedictine Monk Dom, who before his death in 1715, made tons of contributions to winemaking, including my favorite--discovering you can make white wine from black grapes. He is known now as the Father of Modern Champagne. Along the way, Louis XIV discovered the wines of Dom Perignon which gave status and access to royalty.

Dom Perignon Rose is not a Grand Cru Champagne! There, I said it! That's because they prefer to pay an homage and use a small percentage of grapes from the second-tier Premiere Cru vineyard where Dom worked in this product. Only vintages are made, so if the weather sucks, you are out of luck. In almost 100 years, there have only been 22 vintages of this Rose, so talk about rarity. Great cherry and toasty flavors, dry with cool little prickly bubbles!

The second Dom Perignon we tried was Oenotheque. Actually that's the old name because libraries are way out of fashion in Northern France! This Dom is now known as P2, which in my opinion is a total step back in naming, especially for the top brand! P2 is where you sunk my Battleship! Easier isn't better, but what do I know? There is an explanation. P stands for Plenitude, which are basically the stages that this Champagne goes through as it ages. P1 (though they don't use that term) is the Blanc we didn't try and was aged 7 or 8 years (well beyond the 3 year vintage minimum required by French law).

Dom Perignon P2 is the expression aged between 12-18 years (our 1998 vintage we tried was aged 16 years). This Champagne is roughly 50:50 Pinot Noir:Chardonnay. Wine Spectator gave this a 98 for its incredible nose and flavors. So much toast and biscuit in the aroma. Awesome berry flavors, candy and salty all make one terrific treat! Rich, complex, yummy! BTW, P3 will exist as a Champagne aged for 20+ years, so keep that in mind for your Santa wish list.

Our final Champagne was Krug Grand Cuvee. I overheard that Krug is the Champagne that God gives to his "good" angels, LOL. Krug makes two offerings, Cuvee #1 which is a blend of vintages, and Cuvee #2 which is a vintage that shows off a terrific grape year. We had Cuvee #1, and according to the Krug App, which is the only free thing from Krug, our 114018 labeled Champagne was a product of 142 blended wines from 11 vintages between the years 1990 and 2006. Seriously! Damn! Aroma is acidic and sharp, really tantalizing the senses. Very big body, fruity apples, toasty.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir was next, our first wine. From what I heard, Cloudy Bay is the winery that put Sauvignon Blanc on the map, yet is underrated for their Pinot Noirs. Cloudy Bay has selected the best locations in their Marlborough, New Zealand location--best terroir, most sunshine, etc. Excellent cherry and fruity flavor, softly tannic, a little spicy, lightly acidic. Nice!

Finally, we concluded with a collaboration wine, Cheval Des Andes, a blend of Old School Bordeaux Cheval Blanc's Cabernet Sauvignon with Argentina's pioneer Terrazas de los Andes' Malbec. Great matching and contrast between grapes, old vines from both contributors, terrific fruitiness, excellent body, cherry jam, tannic but not overdone, dry, really excellent!

Anyway, that's it. What a fabulous event! Nice people, gracious hosts, excellent servers, terrific speakers and the best Champagnes anyone could hope to taste! I hope you learned something and will check out these awesome Champagnes and Wines. I'm sure that Matt and Tara would LOVE to chat with you if there are any questions. Just leave a comment to be put in touch (or use LinkedIn because you're really smart and they are both waiting to connect).

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