Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut 2003
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
The Grand Vintage 2003, the 68th from the Maison, is a powerful wine: its velvety maturity is immediately apparent, forceful in its creamy blondness. The first notes of vanilla, almond and hazelnut are followed by nuances of colourful sun-soaked Summer fruits – apricots, yellow peaches, nectarines, poached pears. Gradually this generous fruitiness is joined by a soft spiciness of cinnamon, gingerbread and freshly-ground coffee.
Deep and structured, the Grand Vintage 2003 is fleshly, ample and smooth. This unctuous sensuality – reminiscent of leather and cashmere – segues into a warm finale of slightly acid licorice and candied grapefruit. From an extraordinary year and an incomparable fruit, Moët & Chandon has created a profound champagne, one that announces its colours without artifice, intrigues by its honesty. A wine that, having weathered all challenges, has come through with a robust serenity, a formal generosity and a comfortable presence.
Wine Enthusiast - "Moët's vintage, from the hot, low-yielding 2003 vintage, has an unusually high percentage of Pinot Meunier (43%), suggesting there is a distinct character to the year. It's certainly powerful and intense, soft initially, hinting at toast and yeast, the fruit almost sweet, even though the wine is a brut style. It is the rich strawberry flavor that's most surprising on a wine that really has integrated impressively. "
The Wine Advocate - "Made from 43% Pinot Meunier, 29% Pinot Noir and 28% Chardonnay, the 2003 Grand Vintage (in this case tasted from a Magnum) opens with a rich, ripe and intense fruit on the nose where vanilla and hazelnut flavors intermix with ripe and stewed pip fruits. Full-bodied and very well structured, this is a very rich, round, intense and powerful Champagne with good tension and persistence in the finish. This is Champagne to be drunk from big Burgundy glasses with food. "
Wine Spectator - "A rich, opulent style, offering peach, apricot and ginger flavors. Full-bodied and muscular, yet with a firm structure keeping it all focused and a nice tangy finish. Drink now through 2018."
Wine & Spirits - "A classical style, this could be a yardstick for measuring other Champagnes. It's rich in the middle, clean in the end, with plenty of tension to hold the wine tight. More mineral than fruity, this has the meadow flower aspect of fresh butter and cream. Delicious with pan-roasted sole."
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Moët & Chandon Winery
The largest Champagne house in France, Moët et Chandon was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët. They produce large volumes of non-vintage wine under the White Star and Brut Imperial designations, however, are best known for their premium brand Dom Pérignon. View all Moët & Chandon Wines
About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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