Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Champagne on ice - but not as you know it
It’s taken me a week or so to blog about Moet’s new Ice Imperial which was recently launched in London, I suspect because I still can’t quite make up my mind what I think about it. It’s a champagne designed to be served on the rocks - yes, that’s right - poured over ice cubes. To achieve that it’s a good deal sweeter than the standard Moet non vintage - a demi-sec, but with more structure than that style of champagne generally has, thanks to a higher than usual percentage of pinot noir. It’s served in a large Riedel-style Chianti glass with precisely five ice cubes and is designed to be drunk by the pool.
My first reaction is predictably snotty. A cynical marketing exercise designed to appeal to footballers’ wives, rich Russians and the entire cast of TOWIE*. It’s only available for the moment in one bar in London and - mysteriously - about 10 in the Bournemouth area which apparently has the most expensive real estate in Britain outside London. (I’m doubtful about that but can see there might not be many other distractions in that part of the world. Apart from pools and yachts.)
On the other hand Moet’s winemaker Benoit Gouez is a serious kind of a guy and a talented winemaker and the champagne is, when served as cold as it should be, frankly delicious. Especially with odd bits of fruit, citrus peel or other flavourings dropped into it which Moët is encouraging. (Gouez admits to liking it with ginger). It’s clearly designed to appeal to young drinkers who find conventional champagne too dry - and why not?
Because it's ridiculously expensive at £50-60 a bottle you might argue, and you'd be right. But when was champagne ever cheap? Strikes me that Moet is simply taking a leaf out of the book of the spirits producers and making a premium product available to a very few people to ramp up demand. Up to you if you want to spend your money that way.
I can’t help wondering though if you couldn't achieve the same effect with a very cold bottle of Moscato d’Asti at about an eighth of the price. Or a bottle of demi-sec Cava and a dash of sugar syrup. Worth a try . . .
*The Only Way is Essex - cult UK reality TV series