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A brave new world of bubbly

  • Winemaker Amine Ghanem offers new insights on world of luxury champagnes
  • He tracks a new moment in both the consumption and perception of luxury champagnes

Amine Ghanem, oenologist and quality control manager at Moët and Chandon. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Amine Ghanem, oenologist and quality control manager at Moët and Chandon. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

The passion in winemaking comes from the fact that there is no recipe and there is no year or climate like the one that has gone by," says Amine Ghanem, oenologist and quality manager at Moët and Chandon, on a recent visit to Mumbai. His brand’s wine message is in sync with the new directions in the wine and champagne industry.

According to him, this is an exciting time to be in the world of champagne. For the way people are perceiving and drinking champagne has changed; he calls it a “new moment of consumption".

In keeping with this, Moët and Chandon created a product called Moët Ice Imperial which was meant to be had over ice. “The idea was to create a casual and more playful approach towards consuming champagne," says Ghanem. Wine experts have described this as the dismantling of the last of the myths around the right way to drink champagne. Another luxury champagne house, Veuve Cliquot, launched a variant called “Rich", which can not only be poured over ice but can also be mixed into cocktails. In India, Chandon’s Delice plays with the same idea as a sweet and versatile bubbly which can be had with summer fruits as well as on ice.

Champagne and winemakers across the world are moving towards a more tech-savvy approach in growing wine. Whether it’s centuries-old family-run vineyards or new wine start-ups in California’s Napa Valley, everybody in the industry can benefit from the use of Big Data. Cathy Huyghe, an investigative journalist and Harvard alumna, spotted the potential in this space and started a company called Enolytics in Atlanta, Georgia in 2016, which helps winemakers further their business and consumer engagement by aggregating data about wine from different sources. Winemakers too feed in information about consistency and business challenges to improve their business model as well as their product.

Even luxury Old World champagne houses like Moët and Chandon have adopted this model. “We are developing new techniques and innovations that will help preserve our vineyards and our long tradition of winemaking," says Ghanem. One of these innovations is the use of Big Data to create high-quality products by connecting all the wine tanks to databases and monitoring the different parameters that go into making a particular vintage. “All our machines are connected to Big Data, so in a matter of a few seconds, we can extract the pedigree of any bottle of Moët and Chandon on the market," says Ghanem.

This is really preparing for the future, for the challenges of weather, grapes or anything else in a particular year can be collated and the learnings of that year/vintage pulled out when similar challenges present themselves in another year.

The industry has, so far, had strict standards for both creation and consumption. But as champagne moves out of its hallowed space in terms of perception and combines the idea of handcrafted excellence with scientific practice, new possibilities await at every corner.

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