The secret behind the defeat at Waterloo / Moët & Chandon Vintage Brut Champagne
At the beginning of the 1800s Jean-Remy Moët and Napoleon quickly became friends. Napoleon, who loved Chambertin, was also very taken with the very regal characteristics of Moët & Chandon’s champagne. This close friendship with Jean-Remy lasted an entire decade, during which time Napoleon visited Jean-Remy at his estate in Épernay, where he had even built a guest villa for the Emperor. Before setting out on his military expeditions, Napoleon made it a habit to travel through the Champagne region and stock up on what he called "a vital and fortifying drink” for his troops. It has even been said that Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he didn’t have enough time to replenish his stock of champagne, instead having to serve his troops Belgian beer before entering battle.
Enjoying the favour of Napoleon, Jean-Remy Moët became the most famous winemaker of his time, and many royals and heads of state honoured him with visits to his estate. In 1814 his guest list included such dignitaries as Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Emperor Francis I of Austria, Grand Duke of Baden and the Duke of Wellington, just to name a few.
The vintage 1934 bottle we opened was beautiful and in good condition. Decanted for five minutes. Dark, almost brown colour. Intoxicating, open bouquet, but the wine itself initially tasted a bit flat. Because I could count the number of bubbles with the fingers on one hand, I decided to liven it up a bit by mixing it with a glass of 1990 Moët champagne. This helped, thus bringing the champagne, which had been sitting in the dark for seventy years, back to life and providing us with a full-bodied and very wine-like character to enjoy. Extremely refined, balanced and sweet, fruity wine. A dash of new vintage gave it the right amount of acidity and energy, without overwhelming its delicate, rich structure. A wonderful experience.
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage champagnes, unlike most champagnes, are made from the grapes of a single exceptional year. Each Grand Vintage is unique. Each possesses the distinctive, imitable qualities of that year’s outstanding grapes, qualities which have been elevated to their fullest expression through the savoir-faire, experience and expertise of Moët & Chandon and the House’s chef de cave.
Since 1842, the House has released 69 vintage champagnes. Moët & Chandon possesses one of the world’s most prestigious collection of vintage champagnes, all of which are safeguarded in the Grand Vintage Reserve cellars.