Distinctive Balance and Delightful Tartness

Feature / MovementAug. 6, 2016

text by Tadayuki Yanagi

MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE ROSÉ 2008 has been released. The unadulterated acidity and vivid hue that characterizes this vintage highlights the skill of chef Benoît Gouez as Chef de Cave.

Founded in 1743, the year 2008 provided the 41st vintage rosé for MOËT & CHANDON. Ordinarily for a Grand Vintage, the blanc is released first, or at the same time as the rosé. This time, however, the rosé was unveiled first, ahead of blanc. There are two reasons for this. One is the global popularity of rosé.
Chef de Cave Benoît Gouez says, “Until twenty years ago when I came into this industry, rosé accounted for only three percent of all Champagnes. Now, though, it is about ten percent. At MOËT & CHANDON, it goes up to twenty percent. This popularity led to the 2006 Grand Vintage Rosé being sold out before the blanc, and while being irregular, to the rosé being released first.
Another reason is the distinctively sharp acidity of the 2008 vintage. 2008 was the coldest year in the past ten years. In particular, overnight temperatures were low. It has a total acidity of 8.6 grams per liter, which is a whole gram higher than average years.

With cooler weather, 2008 was a classic vintage. The potential alcohol is average at 9.8%, but the total acidity of 8.6 grams per liter is the highest level of the past ten years, thereby making it most closely resemble the 1998 and 1988 vintages. The assemblage is 46% Pinot Noir (20% red wine), 32% Chardonnay, and 22% Meunier.
Disgorged in April 2015, the dosage is somewhat low at five grams per liter. It presents a perfect harmony of soft fruit flavors and pure acidity.

Benoît commented that while “faced with this taut acidity, it was a great challenge of ours to find a way to express the softness of MOËT & CHANDON.” Here, the assemblage was done using a lower ratio of Chardonnay grapes, which are especially acidic. A sharp acidity is encapsulated, but the blanc still needs a bit more time to mature.
He goes on to say,“The twenty percent red wine making up the Champagne gives it a softness, which has made the Rosé ready to drink slightly earlier.”

Unadulterated acidity

This shows the fruits of MOËT & CHANDON’s efforts over the last few years in producing red wine. Investing in Grand Cru vineyards in Ay, Bouzy, and Verzenay, where historically high-quality red wines have been born, harvests are limited by selecting older vines and pruning in the summer. By using vineyards with land areas twice the size needed for red wine production, there has been no problem with grape selection. Furthermore, in 2006, a dedicated production facility for red wine was completed in Épernay. With this, a precise extraction that does not draw out any unripe greenness has become possible.

For the unveiling of the Grand Vintage Rosé 2008, our table was awash in pink as the 2006, 1998, and 1988 rosés from the Grand Vintage Collection were also presented at the dinner.

If one were to describe the Grand Vintage Rosé 2008, released after maturing in the bottle for seven years, in a single word, that word would be “balance.” Its slightly darker hue of salmon pink is truly brilliant. On the nose, there are floral notes of rose, a citrus fragrance of pink grapefruit, and the aroma of red fruits including raspberry and red currant. On the palate, sweetly fragrant fruity flavors wrap the tip of the tongue, after which the unadulterated acidity, characteristic of this vintage, spreads throughout. The structure is deep and folded into many layers, as it finishes with a lingering aftertaste.

Rosé that pairs well with any dish

In following with the concept of Grand Vintage, the 2008 freely expresses the style of that particular year. The stark contrast to the full fruit flavors and powerful style of 2006 is almost like the moon and sun. However, the make-up of the two Grand Vintage Rosés is nearly identical, with both having a low percentage of Chardonnay. Compared to the 33 percent of the 2006, 2008 has 32 percent, a mere one percent difference.
Yet the reasons for lowering the percentage of Chardonnay are completely opposite. For 2008, it was for softening the acidity, but for 2006, it was because it felt overripe. Benoît added that the astringency of Meunier supplemented the lack of freshness. This shows the excellence of assemblage in Champagne, and it is also the part where the skills of the Chef de Cave are used the most.

Baked Kinmedai Sea Bream with Scales and Sautéed Corn, Girolles, and Butterhead Lettuce prepared by Chef Ippei Matsumoto of La Paix in Nihonbashi. The color of the crispy skin of the fish complements the delicious hue of the Grand Vintage Rosé. The rich flavor of the scales match the yeasty aroma derived from sur lie, while the complex flavors of seven years of maturation intermingle beautifully with the fragrance of girolle mushrooms. The delicate seasoning draws out the umami flavors and is well-suited to this low-dosage champagne.

The well-balanced and deliciously acidic Grand Vintage Rosé 2008 pairs well with any dish, making it truly versatile. Being quite unobtrusive, it will certainly be attuned to the sophisticated and delicate cuisine of recent years that highlights the flavors of the ingredients. Even with red meat dishes, it should provide a fine accompaniment, depending on how the inherent tartness is used.
Without necessarily having to be a duet with the blanc, the Grand Vintage Rosé 2008 can satisfy perfectly as a solo selection. When tasting this cuvée, you will see for yourself the reason why MOËT & CHANDON rosés are so popular.

◎La Paix
1-9-4 Nihonbashi-muromachi B1F, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo
TEL: 03-6262-3959
11 :00-15 :00(Last order 13 :30)
18 :00-23 :00(Last order 21 :00)
Closed Wednesdays
One-minute walk from Mitsukoshimae Station on the Tokyo Metro subway line

Enquiries: MHD Moët Hennessy Diageo