Moët & Chandon: Sustainable Development of Champagne


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“A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world,” said Louis Pasteur, the pioneering French chemist and microbiologist known for his research on vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization.

Moët & Chandon pyramid

This point of view has always guided Moët & Chandon, a champagne house deeply aware that winemaking is intimately linked to the climate, the hillside and the soil. Directly witnessing the impact of global warming on viticulture, Moët & Chandon is dependent on the protection of the environment for its survival, which involves the preservation of its vineyards and the natural ecosystem, the conservation of the water and energy, the sustainability of its supply chains and learning from nature.

Moët & Chandon Pinot Noir vineyards in Ay, France

Owner of the largest Champagne estate, with 28 km of underground cellars and 1,200 hectares on just 34,300 hectares throughout the popular region, Moët & Chandon is the world’s leading producer of champagne.

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Réserve in the cellars of Epernay

What kind of meyears at Moët & Chandon

“As the leader in Champagne, we have the responsibility to do everything possible to preserve nature and set an example for the entire region”, declared Stanislas Milcent, Quality and Environment Director of Moët & Chandon.

“The directors of Moët & Chandon have always believed that the exceptional quality of our champagnes owes a lot to nature and the precious terroir that nourish our vines. It is the very source of our champagnes and the heart of our success. Our commitment to the preservation of nature and our vineyards for future generations has always been part of the philosophy of our house. In 2000, we made the decision to step up to sustainable wine practices because we could not sit idly by and watch the impact of climate change.

L’Orangerie, Moët & Chandon

I discovered first-hand what Milcent meant during a recent visit to the vineyards of Mont-Aigu in Oiry near Épernay on the Côte des Blancs, where I listened to Véronique Bonnet, responsible for the vineyards of Moët & Chandon, talk. Harvest had started about a week before, marking the end of an incredibly complicated growing season.

In 2021, Champagne with its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grape varieties was battered by spring frosts and hail. And the rain didn’t stop all summer, which made late blight control a serious problem. Some sectors were hit hard with significant yield losses.

Harvest time at Moët & Chandon

Overall, Champagne winemakers suffered a yield loss of nearly 30 percent due to frost, while late blight claimed an additional 25 to 30 percent. Bonnet noted that the harvest time in the past was in October and that the harvest now begins a month earlier in September; 2020 had broken the record with a harvest in August, the first start date in history.

No wonder that in 2012, Moët & Chandon inaugurated a new space dedicated to 21st century winemaking: an ultramodern, sustainable and energy-efficient vat in Mont-Aigu, labeled “High Environmental Quality” France. label.

Moët & Chandon obtained ISO-14001 certification for all of its sites and activities in 2007, and since 2014, all of its vineyards have been doubly certified for sustainable viticulture with high environmental value.

“This certification, verified by the independent organization Ocacia, includes 99 criteria ranging from soil and plant nutrition to vineyard management and waste management,” explains Milcent. “Soil preservation is essential for us because it contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and the coexistence of life with elements of the landscape such as trees. In addition to our 1200 hectares of vineyard, we have 469 hectares entirely dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity with wooded hedges, forests and ponds. Each is a biodiversity reserve in itself that helps fight disease and reduce water stress and temperature.

Over the past decade, Moët & Chandon has dramatically reduced the use of herbicides in its own vineyards by 98 percent and became completely herbicide-free in 2020. It has established its wine production and distribution processes to have the least possible impact in terms of consumption, emissions and effects on natural resources.

Moët & Chandon electric vineyard tractors in Fort Chabrol, France

Since 2012, it has reduced its carbon footprint by investing in green technologies, becoming the first Champagne company to use low noise electric straddle tractors and daily fuel savings of over 90% to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse.

Its objective is to increase its current fleet of 12 electric tractors to 25 to 30 tractors by 2030. Today, it recycles 99% of its waste, uses 100% green electricity and has reduced its fuel consumption by 20%. water per bottle.

One of the oldest champagne houses, Moët & Chandon was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët, a vineyard owner who planned to make champagne the favorite drink of European courts. At the start of the 19th century, his grandson Jean-Rémy Moët gave the company an international dimension with the help of his son-in-law Pierre-Gabriel Chandon de Briailles.

Extract from the original Moët & Chandon order book

Thanks to his keen business sense, Jean-Rémy Moët befriended the French Emperor Napoleon I, leading to the creation of the flagship non-vintage champagne of the Moët Impérial house in honor of this prestigious client. . The Russian Tsar Alexander I was also one of the illustrious clients.

The heirs of the family consolidated the success of the brand, which today has become the best-known, best-selling and most consumed champagne in the world.

Moët & Chandonits place in Champagne

Part of Moët Hennessy, the largest luxury wines and spirits company in the world, Moët & Chandon continues its global expansion under the powerful LVMH group. Considered as an international brand rather than as a prestigious producer of champagne, we often forget the important role played by Moët & Chandon in the history of Champagne. And still does.

Moët & Chandon has created many rituals associated with champagne today, such as the saber, the smashing of bottles during baptisms of ships and champagne showers after motor races.

At the end of the 19th century, Moët & Chandon successfully fought the ravages phylloxera plague, created a school of viticulture and oenology and a research institute to share its wine knowledge, and in 1900 one of its great leaders, Robert-Jean de Vogüé, improved the social and working conditions of winegrowers long before that similar obligations are adopted in France.

When it comes to innovation, Moët & Chandon has always been a pioneer. In 1006, he was the first Champagne producer to invest in stainless steel tanks to improve the fermentation and aging processes of the wine, and at the end of 2020 launched his “Living Soils” sustainability initiative.

Continuing its tradition of investing in science, Moët & Chandon has even built a biodiversity conservatory of Champagne grape varieties. “On the oldest plots, we found more than 900 old Pinot Noir or Chardonnay vines, for example, to set aside and preserve for the future, giving our successors and all the other champagne houses the keys environmental issues they may face in the future. It is in a way a vast archive library of the vineyard, ”commented Milcent.

Moët & Chandon also opened a 20 million euros research platform for sustainable viticulture in Champagne, addressing topics such as microbiology to select and adapt yeasts, CO2 sequestration in fields, and make grape varieties and rootstocks resistant to climate change and downy mildew.

Beyond its own lands, Moët & Chandon works in close collaboration with a community of more than 2,000 wine growers and local cooperatives to promote the biodiversity of the entire region, aiming to help its partners obtain the same certifications so that the terroir exceptional Champagne can be preserved for future generations. .

Currently, 20 percent of the entire estate of its wine partners (around 848 hectares) is certified in sustainable viticulture. Each year, Moët & Chandon buys grapes from hundreds of wine villages in the region to complement the fruit of its own vines, both to support local producers and to bring nuance to its own wines.

Moët & Chandon vineyards

Going further towards organic and biodynamic viticulture, Milcent underlined: “Certifications and labels, like the organic label, are all positive ways to protect nature. We are inspired by these approaches. They all contribute to shaping the sustainable viticulture of tomorrow.

In search of all kinds of solutions promoting the protection of the environment and the safeguard of its terroir, Moët & Chandon is currently converting 10 hectares into organic certification, an experiment that began in 2017 to assess the risks and opportunities at each stage. of the process, from the vineyard to the finish. product, while simultaneously exploring biodynamic practices on a few plots.

In terms of collaborations, Moët & Chandon also chooses partners aligned with its sustainable development strategy. Accustomed to automobile sponsorship, having been the official champagne of many automobile competitions since the 1930s, Moët & Chandon is looking forward to the exciting future of this sport. For the third consecutive year, it has renewed its partnership with Formula E, the world’s first fully electric single-seater motorsport championship, two brands dedicated to sustainability, technology and innovation, providing champagne for both the winner’s podium and VIP hospitality.

In its latest collaboration, Moët & Chandon commissioned a Korean-American fashion designer Yoon, co-founder and creative director of her own label, Ambush, to create a limited edition bottle of Moët Impérial champagne. A portion of the profits from sales will be donated to the Global Land Trust, an international conservation charity defending endangered natural habitats.

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013

For Moët & Chandon, it is never a question of outdoing its competitors on the challenges of sustainable development, but rather of working towards common objectives and constantly improving its know-how.

“When it comes to sustainability, this is not a competition,” Milcent concluded. “Moët & Chandon is constantly exploring and experimenting to preserve the natural balance of the Champagne region. However, it is fundamental to understand that the results of each method depend on the climate, the terroir and the level of parasites. It is therefore necessary to constantly review the model, observe and perform small-scale tests to learn, act and move forward. This is the approach of Moët & Chandon in its quest to preserve nature.

For more information, please visit www.moet.com.

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