Celebrating Mother’s Day with the 2004 Grand Vintage Moët & Chandon Champagne is a stylish way to honor your mother.
Founded in 1743, Moët & Chandon has combined quantity and quality: It is the largest Champagne house; its Prestige Champagne Dom Perignon has worldwide fame; and its Grand Vintage Champagne keeps getting better.
Vintage Champagne is only made in years when the Champagne house recognizes the superb quality of its grapes. Moët & Chandon’s first vintage Champagne was bottled in 1842. Since then, it has produced only 70 vintage Champagnes, with 2004 the most recent. In 2000, it changed the name to Grand Vintage.
A few months ago, Benoit Gouez, Moët & Chandon’s chef de cave (the Champagne title for winemaker), presented the 2004 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Blanc at a luncheon in Manhattan along with the 1993, 1983, and 1973 vintages. A few weeks later, I tasted the 2004 Grand Vintage Rosé at home.
Most Champagnes are a blend of three grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, the latter two being red. Gouez used all three in the 2004 Grand Vintage Blanc, with chardonnay the highest at 38 percent. He aged the Champagne for seven years — more than double the Champagne regulation of at least three years aging for the vintage designation — and is two years more than Moët & Chandon’s regime prior to Gouez’s ascension in 2005. Giving Gouez the freedom to select his blend and aging period is an overwhelming vote of confidence by Moët & Chandon in his winemaking talent. And it also shows that regardless of its size, Moët & Chandon continues to refine its wines.
In 2004, Mother Nature gave Gouez ideal growing conditions, creating a record harvest in Champagne. The 2004 Grand Vintage Blanc’s petite bubbles capture your eyes as you inhale the citrus and soft floral scents. Tasty citrus and apple flavors cross your palate with a mineral backdrop that brings the Champagne to a dry, but not tart, finish.
Pinot noir is the majority grape in the 2004 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé. Gouez used 22 percent of it as a still wine to create a dynamic orange-copper hue. The two red pinot grapes give the 2004 Grand Vintage Rosé a black cherry and a brown spice scent, and a flavor profile resembling a cranberry, rhubarb and cherry cocktail. The crisp chardonnay donates a zesty finish. This Champagne was delightful with my sautéed salmon and baby portobella mushrooms.
Champagne is often consumed too cold. This suppresses the fruit flavors and nuances that winemakers like Gouez strive to create. Your mother will receive the elegant flavors, delicate texture and graceful balance of the 2004 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Blanc and Rosé Champagnes if you serve the wines chilled, but not iced. And the aromas and fruit flavors will expand if she drinks her Champagne from a white wine glass instead of the traditional flute glass.
Oh, the three older vintages were vibrant — just what we wish every mother to be on Sunday.
The 2004 Grand Vintage Blanc retails for about $72; the rosé is around $90.