How Good is Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne?
Moët & Chandon is arguably (or not!) THE single most famous and recognized Champagne brand.
Who hasn’t had a bottle of Moët in his/her life?
But do you remember well what it tastes like? And how good is it really is the grand scheme of Champagne wine qualities?
I’d heard a lot of contradictory comments about Moët & Chandon’s Brut Imperial. Many experts disqualifying the brand from being an enjoyable Champagne just because it’s produced in big volumes, even sometimes comparing it to famous brands of soft drinks in its approach to marketing.
I wanted to find out, for myself and for all, how good (or bad) Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial really taste like…
Let’s find out! But first, a little context around Moët & Chandon brand and the Brut Imperial cuvée.
The Biggest Champagne Brand in the World
Established back in 1743 by Claude Moët, the story goes that the house’s sparkling wine was French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite bubbles. The latter awarded, in the early 1800s, Jean-Rémy Moët (the founder’s grandson) the medal of the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France.
So yes, there is a fair but of History behind Moët & Chandon which has justifiably earnt the brand an image of Prestige and luxury.
Moët & Chandon is now part of the LVMH luxury group (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and is the biggest-selling Champagne in the world, by a large margin.
1150 hectares of vineyards (2840 acres) are cropped by or for the brand for a total annual production volume of some 28 million bottles.
Moët Imperial: the House’s flagship Champagne
Brut Imperial is Moët & Chandon’s non-vintage cuvée, the one we all see most commonly at our wine shop.
The blend is created from more than 100 different wines, of which 20% to 30% are reserve wines (wines kept at the winery for a few years to mature before blending). The three typical Champagne grape varieties are used to achieve the required balance, 30 to 40% Pinot Noir, 30 to 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20 to 30% Chardonnay. The dosage (added sugar at bottling) is at a standard level for the Brut category, 9 g/liter.
The Brut Imperial ageing in bottle, on its lees providing depth and complexity, is moderately short at 24 months (while the minimum by law is 18 months).
But let’s get to the interesting stuff…
What Does Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Taste Like?
The Brut Imperial comes in a lemon-yellow color, with actually, quite a good intensity to it.
It’s not your pale green-ish yellow you often get out of some other very popular non-vintage cuvées. The Moët has plenty of shiny gold hues to it, amber tones making it look shining and appealing.
The nose is, straight away, quite deep and complex. It will make you salivate, just at smelling it if you’re into baked buttery and fruity foods. Buttery brioche and roasted hazelnut, toasted bread and ripe lemon apricot are the dominant aromas. Somewhat of a French toasts smell to it, ones that would be covered in not only maple syrup, but also some apricot jam and lemon marmalade, with a squeeze of fresh lemon too. Add a pinch of cinnamon and 5 spices mix, and you’re in for very tempting nose.
I had not tasted the Brut Imperial in a while, and honestly, I was expecting a much simpler profile, more on the simple citrus. There’s actually quite a lot going on to sniff with interest for a little while.
The palate follows suit. It is dry, with crisp acidity. But the round body and harmonious fruity flavors of tropical fruits give the sensation of a certain sweetness balancing the whole very well.
Bursting notes of toasted hazelnut and buttery shortbread, marry dried pineapple and hints of ripe mango, a touch of white pepper to spice things up too. The long and layered finish even incudes hints of fresh blueberry flavors.
A non-vintage Champagne that drinks incredibly well, featuring an utter balance between its mineral dryness complemented by the richness and sweet sensation from a creamy and smooth texture together with a wealth of ripe fruity flavors.
The whole feels light-hearted and aerial, like we love from balanced Champagnes. You can just sip it nonchalantly without having to thinking about it or having to feel any annoying edge, as it’s so smooth and pleasing to the palate.
Yet, there are many layers of tasty and complex aromas and flavors to satisfy your curiosity if you’re interested in tasting a wine with some depth. You also clearly get the sensation you are tasting something special, a feeling every genuine French Champagne wine should provide.
Yes, Moët & Chandon produces quite a few bottles of the Brut Imperial, and many regard it as a generic cuvée deprived of any interesting attributes.
Having not tasted it for a long time, and having never formally reviewed it, taking the time to analyze it thoroughly, I must admit being very positively surprised.
Sometimes, when the job is taken seriously, making large volumes of wine can be a strength for winemakers, allowing for more selective grape sourcing, utterly-controlled winemaking, and more importantly, perfect blending options. It seems to be the case for Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial.
If you taste this wine without preconceived ideas, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t encapsulate the essence of what a good Champagne is: yummy buttery and toasted character from the long ageing on lees, layered fruit flavors from ripe grapes, yet a lightness, a balance, and an aerial feel not many other wines provide with such elegance.
Hat off Moët & Chandon!
Beyond the marketing, Brut Imperial IS, a really good wine. If what you sent me for this official review on Social Vignerons is what you sell around the world to millions of Champagne enthusiasts, I can only acknowledge that you are doing an amazing job at representing the wine of Champagne, and the fine wines from France.
Clearly, I wouldn’t be ashamed to serve it to my guests for Christmas!
Watch the video about Moet & Chandon tasting below, or continue reading underneath it…
Moët & Chandon Imperial in Video
Moët & Chandon Food Pairings
I learnt in Champagne, that the Champenois (the people from Champagne) do enjoy their local wine with every dish all along a meal. As a matter of fact, Champagne wine can be paired with virtually any food, from entrée to dessert, not just with aperitif or starters.
Moët & Chandon, on their website, is exactly on this same line. Here are their Champagne & food pairing recommendations:
“MOËT IMPÉRIAL CAN BE SERVED THROUGHOUT THE MEAL, FROM APERITIF TO DESSERT AND PAIRS PERFECTLY WITH:
– white fish
– white meats (such as roasted free-range chicken au jus with fines herbes)
– white fruits (such as a white peach tart served with a light, white chocolate cream)”
I can actually see this working very well, no doubt. What do you think?
Moët Imperial Retail Prices
Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial is not a very expensive Champagne, relative to prices of some Prestige Cuvée Champagnes for example.
Yet, it’s not the most affordable either. My personal opinion is that you get a good Champagne for the price you pay when you buy Moët Imperial, and you have the advantage of consistency. You know what you’re getting. If you’ve tried it once and liked it, it’ll be the same wine next time around you buy it again.
Although, for these same reasons, many will tell you to buy a different Champagne, to find perhaps more character and a more unique personality. Indeed, for a similar price tag, a vintage grower Champagne for example, will give you more variability and a sense of what the particular year was like around Reims and Epernay. Your choice!
If you’re after tested and tasted, approved good Champagne wine, check out the Social Vignerons Champagne Awards for the following categories:
According to Wine Searcher, Moët Imperial retails on average (ex-tax):
- $52 in the USA
- £39 in the UK
- €38 in France
- HK$415 in Hong Kong
- AU$73 in Australia