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Moet Ice Impérial: Breaking Traditions with Style

Posted: Wednesday, 22 April 2015 11:29

Moet Ice Impérial: Breaking Traditions with Style

April 22: A couple of years after it was launched in the US, UK and other planned destinations, Moet & Chandon has announced the launch of Moet Ice Impérial, the only champagne created to be served on the rocks, writes Subhash Arora who tasted and chatted with Elise Losfelt, a fourth generation winemaker at Moet & Chandon, and feels it will have a niche in resorts and upmarket banquets and parties, especially for the young and affluent experimental wine lovers

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewMost novices are generally confused about Ice wine though a few understand it as soon as they learn the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. It is not a wine that should be consumed with ice added but it is made from grapes that are frozen like ice, harvested at temperature colder than -7° C. The wine with high sugar content balanced with high acidity has delicious, tropical flavours when served chilled at around 6°C.

They should get ready to be confused with the introduction of Ice champagne which has also higher sugar than normal (called demi-sec) and should be chilled to 6°C. But it is crafted in such a way that ice cubes have to be added to give the right balance on the palate. Moet Hennessy India has announced the launch of Moet Ice Imperial, demi-sec Non-Vintage (NV) champagne in Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Rajasthan. Elise Losfelt who is one of the 9 winemakers that work under one cellar master at Moet & Chandon, was in town with Gaurav Bhatia, marketing head of the biggest champagne selling company in India to taste it with special invitees.

While she does not like coupes and cocktails made with champagne, she is well aware of people in South of France where the mother side of her family has had a winery for four generations since 1921 and where people can be seen mixing ice with champagnes. This kills the harmony of champagne, adding bitterness and acidity to the bubbly. With Moet Ice Impérial, this problem is solved. As she says, ‘we realised at Moet & Chandon that education was important but it was not feasible to reach all the people so we designed this champagne that requires 3 large ice cubes ( 6 of our regular sized cubes in India) in a glass of 125-150 mL to give it a proper balance.’

If you thought this was breaking the tradition, wait till she tells you to use the big Cabernet Sauvignon glass for serving. She is not a fan of flutes anyway and feels that with the flute you can get an unpleasant whiff of carbon dioxide on your nose and with the short rim, you tend to have the liquid touch the middle of the palate and not the front so you miss out a little on the full flavours. Click For Large ViewShe also suggests the ice cubes should be added after the champagne, chilled to 6°C is poured in the glass, else the bubbles will be killed. And use only ice-cubes and not crushed ice, she adds. Wonder what James Bond who is fond of Martini-shaken and not stirred, would say while vacationing in India in summer at a resort in Jaipur, Udaipur or Goa and ordering it!

The resorts in Rajasthan and Goa will be the main targets for Moet Ice Imperial positioning when it is launched in May. Delhi and Mumbai have to be included as the market, says Gaurav who emphasises that it will be marketed through select distribution outlets-including hotels. It will be available in India on allocation anyway, he adds. The new champagne experience combining fun, fresh and free sensations while remaining true to the Moët & Chandon style will be ideal for resorts, summer time pool parties and upscale banquets, says Elise.

Moet Ice has all the three regular grapes of champagne though it has more of Pinot Noir ( 50-60%) making it strong in red fruit aromas. It has a lot of structure giving it a bit of astringency and bitterness that vanishes with ice cubes melting in the glass. The structure is also important to support the higher level of sugar at 45 gms/ liter (making it a demi-sec champagne). Besides the red Pinot Meunier (30-40%) that adds to the fruitiness, fleshiness and richness on the mid palate, 10% Chardonnay brings acidity to the structure and makes it refreshing, also giving it a juicy end. It is kept on the lees for 18 months followed by bottle ageing for 3 months before release. The bottle that was opened for me had been disgorged in November 2014 (though a bit controversial, the disgorgement dates are now mentioned on the Non Vintage champagnes).

Click For Large ViewThe bubbly is fruity and fresh but you can break the rules a notch further by adding garnish of your choice, making it more refreshing for the summer heat or at the poolside, bringing out the intensity of aromas. Mint leaves, lime or white grapefruit zest, cucumber peel, very thin slice of ginger, cardamom seeds and even red fruits like strawberries and raspberries (if available) may be added.

Aptly described as Summertime Socialite Style-perfect for rooftop parties as the sun sets and poolside parties, this champagne will also appeal to a section of the people who find the bubbles a bit too aggressive and acidic. In that sense, it may be used to prepare the novice palates for regular champagnes.

The purists might balk at the idea of this champagne as they did when Riedel glass company brought out the O series of stem-less wine glasses after decades of ‘educating’ the connoisseurs the merit of long stems to swirl the glass to bring out the aromas. There is a niche market for the Ice Champagne and Moet Ice Impérial is ready to exploit it with the first mover advantage.
It is usually available at Duty Free Shops at around at $58- with a 10-15% premium over the Moet Chandon Imperial Brut. In India, after a similar mark-up, it is expected to be priced at Rs. 7000 in retail, including taxes.

For a couple of earlier related articles, you may visit

Moet Chandon not Best but Biggest Selling Champagne

Rich and Famous: Most Expensive Champagne in the World

Subhash Arora

 

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