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Heatwave harvest key to Moët’s new cuvée

Moët’s new prestige cuvée called MCIII would not have been possible without the heatwave 2003 vintage in Champagne, according to the brand’s winemaker.

Moet&Chandon_MCIII
Moët’s new release is called “MCIII” after the initials of the house and the three-layer blending process

Having presented the first tasting of MCIII in the UK on Thursday last week, Moët winemaker Elise Losfelt explained that the extreme heat and low yields of 2003 in Champagne were vital for creating a base wine strong enough to handle the additional components in this new multi-vintage blend.

“We chose 2003 for the base because of the extraordinary characters of this year: it was a really intense year, with low yields, and lots of sun, which concentrated the aromas,” explained Losfelt.

Continuing, she admitted that Moët has made trials cuvées for future MCIII releases, but wasn’t sure if they would be released.

“We have done a new MCIII but I don’t know if it will go out, because I don’t know if the new base can handle it: 2003 was a really particular year, and we need another one as powerful as 2003.”

Nevertheless, having also shown the Moët Grand Vintage 2006 at the press event last week, she said that this year – which was another warm vintage in Champagne – “could be ripe enough for a future MCIII base.”

MCIII is Moët’s first prestige cuvée and was officially launched in the UK last week with an rrp of £330, although it was first shown to the French press back in June, and db broke news of its release in September.

Elise at Tasting
Losfelt said that the flavours in MCIII reminded her of the wines from La Coulée de Serrant

Losfelt described the new release as the “ultimate expression of savoie faire of blending at Moët,” noting that MCIII blends grape varieties, places, years as well as different types of vinification and ageing.

The name stems from the use of three distinct types of wine in the Champagne, with, firstly, a base wine from 2003 (comprising approximately 37% of the final blend) that has been stored in stainless steel tanks since its fermentation finished.

Secondly, MCIII contains a proportion of cask-aged wine, and thirdly, there is some old Champagne in the prestige cuvée from Moët’s cellars. “We took 1993, 1998 and 1999 vintages which weren’t disgorged, and added them to the blend, so they did a third fermentation within the bottle of MCIII to give an extra layer of complexity.”

Summing up, Losfelt said of the Champagne, “It is a ‘multi-vintage’ because we use only years that have been vintages, and blends that have been vintages.”

She also said, “And it has been aged in three different ‘universes’: stainless steel, oak and glass.”

MCIII, unlike Moët Imperial and Grand Vintage, contains no Meunier. “We selected only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir because they are intense in aromas and structure,” she explained.

The 2003 base, added Losfelt, was strong enough to “hold the oak and layers of aromas from the old Champagne,” while other base vintages “couldn’t handle the blend, as well as the 10 years of maturation.”

The MCIII blend was created in 2004 and then aged 10 years on the lees, before being disgorged in May last year, and given a dosage of 7g/l.

Losfelt described the final Champagne as “complicated to make, but easy to drink”.

With ripe, white fruit flavours and aged honeyed characters, along with a slightly smoky edge and a rounded texture, the Champagne is reminiscent of fine white Burgundy, although Losfelt said the new blend reminded her of the wines from La Coulée de Serrant – the Loire valley property of Nicolas Joly.

Finally, having tasted some of the components of MCIII, db was amazed at the quality of the Moët Collection 1993, which combines some of the honeyed characters of aged Champagne with the brightness and toastiness that comes from 18 years ageing on the lees (the Champagne was disgorged in late 2011).

Furthermore, this wine can be bought for £155, less than half the price of the MCIII.

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