Ice Cubes in Champagne? How Good is Moët Ice Imperial
Score : 90/100
Since its launch back in 2010, Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial has been somewhat controversial.
Indeed, Champagne, that can only be made in the region bearing the same name in France, is generally regarded as the finest sparkling wine on Earth, and rarely do you hear anybody recommend fine wine to be served on ice!
Wine connoisseurs in fact, will always tell you the opposite. Never add ice to your wine!
Yet, arguably the most famous of Champagne Houses, Moët & Chandon, which already sells millions of bottles of fine Champagne all around the globe, has found relevant to pioneer a new style of Champagne, specially crafted to be served on the rocks.
What is Moet Ice Imperial?
This is how M&C introduces the Ice Imperial cuvée: “Moët Ice Impérial, the first and only champagne especially created to be enjoyed over ice. A new champagne experience combining fun, fresh and free sensations while remaining true to the Moët & Chandon style, a style distinguished by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity.”
Moët & Chandon’s chef de cave (understand, the Champagne house’s winemaker) has selected various wines for a blend (assemblage) that would work well and be harmonious even with the addition of ice cubes.
The dosage of Ice Imperial (or the added sugar at bottling), is pretty high, at 45 grams per liter corresponding to a Demi-Sec. Expect the Champagne to be fairly sweet then, far from the dryness of a more-common Brut. Obviously, the addition of ice dilutes these sugars, and makes the wine much colder which also will reduce the impression of sweetness.
Moët Ice Imperial is made from mainly Pinot Noir (40-50%), bringing a vinous and angular taste, intense fruitiness as well as body to complement the residual sugars. There is also Pinot Meunier (30-40%), that is full and fleshy for a rich, melting sensation on the mid-palate. The more mineral acidic Chardonnay (10-20%) is used to add up a refreshing finish. The final blend includes 20 to 30% reserve wines (wines kept from previous vintages, aged for longer therefore more complex) enhance the assemblage to complete its intensity, richness and constancy.
What Does Moet Ice Imperial Taste Like? And Why a Wine Review Article?
I am a wine connoisseurs, and have been a wine professional for over 15 years, and always a huge advocate of fine wine. Yet, I do consider that there is wine for all palates, and that no wine should ever been approached with preconceive ideas, whether that’s on its marketing, its packaging, the way it’s made, or the way it should be served. Like people, each wine has its purpose and can please certain palates.
“Don’t judge a book by at its cover.” Right?
So, I got a bottle of Ice Imperial, and set up myself to add some ice cubes to it, and find out, as objectively as possible, what it’s actually worth.
Can’t be bothered reading anymore? See the Ice Imperial Wine Review in Video below:
Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial Review
Ice Imperial comes in a solid lemon-yellow color, with a wealth of gold hues making it look vibrant and shiny. Slightly amber, it looks rather intense for a non-vintage cuvee, and suggests the wine has been in contact with oak.
The nose is also surprisingly intense and generous. Indeed, there is an obvious presence of sweet oaky aromas, caramel-coated toasted hazelnut, and a touch of vanilla. More importantly, the aromatic profile is dominated by pungent ripe citrus notes, ripe orange, sweet lemon and orange peel, lemon marmalade. It smells sweet and round, yet elegant with depth from complex sweet spices and a touch of smokiness. It certainly smells fruitily tempting!
It is actually a little challenging and disconcerting to formally taste a wine that’s got ice in it. Even as a professional wine taster, you’re caught into the thought that this is a wine to be simply enjoyed and not overly analyzed. The presence of ice cubes made me think: ‘let’s just enjoy this sip and not worry about writing about it!”. Ice in a drink does have this sort of magical effect on your mind, creating the feel of a special festive moment, a moment of celebration.
But still, I made the effort of digging further into the palate sensation Ice Imperial provides.
Put the Champagne in your mouth (without the ice preferably!), and it appears straight away, to be utterly smooth and round, helped in that by some honey-like sweetness. Bubbles are fine and very soft, the body is coating your palate but feels refreshing and easy to enjoy, somewhat watery (probably the melted ice!), certainly cold!
More importantly, Ice Imperial provides a big burst of fruity flavors, ripe lemon, fresh grapes and blond raisin, definitely lightly-flavored honey notes. All these fruit characters are coated in subtle sweet spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and Szechuan pepper. Clearly, plenty of tropical notes live here as well, pineapple and litchi especially. Add some apricot and ripe yellow peach. And yes,
There are discrete but important, underlying brioche and buttery notes from the aging on lees. Touches of sour dough provide a welcome hint of savoriness in this world of ripe fruit and sweet spices generosity.
The whole, well, somewhat tastes like a delicate and extraordinary crumple cake, that would contain a wealth mix of fruits, grapes, apricot, apple, citrus marmalade, tropical pineapple, litchi and passion, fruit, spread with 5 spices mix, and generously buttery like a good crumble ought to be.
How much does Moet Chandon champagne cost?
The price for a 750-ml bottle of Ice Imperial averages a little over $70 retail in the US. It’ll be about £50 in the UK, and €60 in continental Europe.
Expect much higher prices in restaurants and night clubs, obviously.
Conslusion – How Good is Moet Ice Imperial?
If you judge by the number of descriptors I’ve used to define Ice Imperial’s tasting profile above, you will have understood that despite the apparent simplicity, or more exactly how simple it is to enjoy this Champagne, there is a certain complexity packed into this bubbly.
It is a little sweet, and overall gave me the impression to be drinking a cocktail more than a wine, from the lack of savory flavors and the acidity much tempered by the sugars. Yet, it does bring in the complexity of a good Champagne wine, and all the typical and delightful notes we like to enjoy in a great French bubbly.
The depth and complexity of Champagne, in an approachable and cocktail-like friendliness.
Here you’ve got it. Missions accomplished Moet & Chandon. A very enjoyable drink Ice Imperial is indeed…
Should you buy Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial?
Some may not like that there is a Champagne made to be served on ice, and can’t get their head around the idea of adding frozen water to a fine bubbly.
I’d say no one is obliged to buy or drink it if that’s not your cup of tea. Although I would recommend giving it a try once, if only out of curiosity, and find out what you think of it for yourself.
I would add that, in my humble opinion, those who do buy, and drink Ice Imperial aren’t getting riped off. It is not cheap and perhaps there are better value and QPR Champagnes out there. But I could taste that the wine is objectively well crafted, and has depth and complexity to it, as a good Champagne ought to at that price tag.
Then for hot summery nights, or for glamorous parties, it does bring in the distinctive feature of being specially crafted for serving on ice, which probably justifies the few extra dollars for a special product. It is the perfect excuse to add ice into your bubbly, for those who have always wanted to do so, or have felt ashamed to do so before…
Just like a well-thought and well-crafted Champagne cocktail, Ice Imperial makes sense once you’ve thought about it, and more importantly, once you’ve tasted it!