Ain’t It Grand?

U2 sang that some days are better than others. The same can be said for Champagne vintages—some years are just better than others. What they did not explain is that sometimes you have to go out of order. Hence, while Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2003 is currently present at celebrations worldwide, the highly anticipated 2002 vintage is only now poised to launch in late June, replacing the 2003 on fine dining menus and on retail shelves.

In a word, 2002 was blessed, at least in the Champagne region of France. Weather conditions during the growing season were ideal, yielding a clean harvest and producing top-quality grapes throughout the estate’s properties. The resulting wine would be slow to mature but indicated early on that it would be worth the wait—seven years to be exact. The 2002, Moët & Chandon’s 69th Grand Vintage since 1842, is the first to be aged seven years since the 1930s.

Unlike Impérial, the house’s blended, non-vintage flagship label, the Grand Vintage is chef de cave Benoît Gouez’s personal expression. Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002 ($70 suggested retail) is composed of 51 percent pinot noir, 26 percent chardonnay, 23 percent pinot meunier, while the Grand Vintage Rosé 2002 is 51 percent pinot noir (27 percent of which is red wine, the remainder blanc de noir), 28 percent chardonnay, 21 percent pinot meunier.

Moët & Chandon oenologist Marc Brevot is not inclined to dictate aroma and flavor notes—he’d rather leave that to the beholder and focus on the impression it leaves. But for the sake of discussion, Gouez has said the 2002 “is characterized by the aromas of cereals and frangipani, white peach and nectarine, with a velvety texture and a precise finish, creating an exceptional champagne.” Exactement.