If we picture the Champagne region as a forest, then Moët&Chandon is definitely the lion. The house was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët, a wine trader from Epernay and the first winemaker to exclusively produce sparkling wine. But the “Moët revolution”, with the brand coming to the international scene, started with Jean-Rémy, the grandson of Claude Moët, a good friend of Napoleon Bonaparte (they met as young boys at the military school in Brienne-le-Château). The famous emperor ruled almost the entire Europe and started to celebrate his victories with champagne. “In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it”, said Napoleon. As a matter of fact, even when he was defeated, the friendship with Jean-Rémy remained intact.
As a curiosity, after the disastrous War of the Sixth Coalition, and the Napoleon’s exile to the island of Elba, the Russian troups took hold of the Champagne region and robbed pretty much every Champagne cellar dry. The Moët house was especially targeted, and they lost 600,000 bottles. But even in that conditions, Jean-Rémy Moët didn’t panic. Instead, he recalled an old French proverb: “Qui a bu, boira” or “He who has drunk once will drink again.” “All of those soldiers who are ruining me today will make my fortune tomorrow,” Jean-Rémy told his friends. “I’m letting them drink all they want. They will be hooked for life and become my best salesmen when they go back to their own country.” And indeed, few years later, Moët exported his bottles to Prussia where champagne became very popular (during the reign of Frederick William III). If you find these stories fascinating then you can read the book Champagne by Don and Petie Kladstrup.
The name Moët&Chandon appears in 1832, after Victor Moët, the son of Jean-Rémy, was joined by his brother-in-law Pierre-Gabriel Chandon de Briailles. In 1971, Moët&Chandon merged with another important spirits brand, Hennessy, and then in 1987, after the fusion with the notorious fashion brand Louis Vuitton, they formed the world absolute leader in luxury products, LVMH, now owner of 76+ well-known brands around the world. Not surprisingly, Moët&Chandon is the most important champagne house, with more than 30 million bottles sold annually, and 28km of cellars, producing the most complex wine in the world (will talk about that in future posts) and one of the most famous cuvée prestige, Dom Pérignon.
We hope you enjoyed the history behind this magnificent maison. We had the opportunity to visit their cellars in Epernay and we have selected some interesting photos for you. We will talk in more detail about the characteristics of the Moët&Chandon wines in our futures posts. For now, enjoy the photos and let us know if you have any questions about the Champagne lion.