An Afternoon With Benoit Gouez – Moët & Chandon
I was recently invited to attend a Champagne tasting at the swanky Nomad Hotel, located on Broadway and 28th Street in midtown Manhattan, where I met the VERY French Chef de Cave of Moët & Chandon, Benoit Gouez. I was somewhat intimidated to do this tasting, as I know very little about Champagne, and saying Benoit Gouez is extremely knowledgeable is an understatement. However, I soon began to feel at ease, perhaps due to Monsieur Gouez’s charm, or maybe it was the wine I chose not to spit out into the spittoon.
Moët & Chandon is the world’s largest producers of champagne, producing an impressive 26 million plus bottles per year. This esteemed brand of Champagne is made to a high standard of excellence. The Moët & Chandon Champagne line includes Moët & Chandon Imperial, Rose Imperial, Nectar Imperial, and Grand Vintage.
The Champagne we were discussing was the Moët Imperial, and here is what I learned. Moët Imperial is a blend from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. In the Champagne world, blending is key. This is what helps the Champagne taste the same with every production. Benoit Gouez states there is no recipe, he does this by taste. I cannot imagine this, as I am a person who follows a recipe to make toast. It is quite impressive to me that this Champagne tastes the same every time it is popped open, just by tasting alone. The Imperial is a very pale straw color with small bubbles, and has a subtle hint of flowers, vanilla, and grapefruit. It is a light and delicate Champagne.
Also worth noting, Moët & Chandon has always been quite popular. Popular artists have mentioned it in quite a few songs. For example, it is referenced in the Queen song “Killer Queen” and the Notorious BIG track “Juicy” and also mentioned in the popular song “Drop it Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dog and Pharrel. However, here in America, we view Champagne only as a celebratory drink, consuming it during toasts at weddings, New Year’s, and other special occasions. It is not just an occasion drink in France, however. According to Benoit Gouez, it would not be unusual to see someone in France sitting down to dinner with a flute just because they feel like drinking Champagne. Moët & Chandon Champagne is so versatile and delicious, it is a wonderful drink for special occasions, but also a drink we here in America can have anytime.