Two Champagne events on a Tuesday – the unveiling of L’Académie de Lanson, an internet-based resource to promote a better understanding of their product and then Moët & Chandon launching a new product, Ice Imperial. The sun joined in too with a glorious bright day, if windy.
The highlight of the Lanson event was the opportunity to taste their range. The most obvious point is simple. Black Label, the mass brand, is a pleasant, balanced, quite sophisticated glass of bubbles. It won’t frighten anyone. The Tsarine range is pretty and very accessible, while the Besserat de Bellefon line goes into the restaurant trade. But the real interest of the range is in the better wines – Extra Age Brut, made from wine from 1999, 2002 and 2003, is a very fine aged Champagne, with delicious nutty and mushroomy notes, excellent acidity and very long. The Noble Cuvée range is fabulous (Rosé, Blanc de Blanc and Brut 1999). All the wines in the range are well made – but if you can, head for the better wines, and experience a range of flavours which is so much more than the ‘all things to all people’ Black Label can only hint at.
And now for something completely different – the launch of Moët’s Ice Imperial, the first Champagne designed to be drunk on ice … Benoît Gouez, Chef de Cave, explains that this is a new product, specifically created to try to extend the market into the sunny and informal season of summer. It is not to be taken overly seriously, but to be enjoyed, post-beach, on a picnic, wherever. It is made in a demi-sec style, so with noticeable residual sugar and quite rich – in order to allow for the dilution and the lower temperature brought about by adding ice. Three cubes of ice were specified … though we couldn’t help noticing that some had up to six! What is it like? Very rich, quite sweet, pleasant. Special enough to carry the Champagne name forward? I am not sure. But certainly, for a generation brought up on sweet drinks, it might be a way towards the glorious set of wines which are Champagne.
Needless to say, the marketing and the launch were excellent … with the added bonus of the sun to put you in the mood.