IN THE BUBBLE: Moët & Chandon celebrated the launch of its Collection Impériale in the splashiest of ways — by throwing a lavish dinner at the Hôtel de Bourrienne, an 18th century private mansion that often received Napoleon as a guest. It was the first time the home had been opened for a private event.
Cellar master Benoît Gouez welcomed guests with candlelight and cellos, past an electronic clock projected on the wall, into the garden where a new work from artist Daniel Arsham was on display.
The piece was inspired by a stained-glass window the two discovered while spending time in the chateau’s wine cellar. The house was inspired to commission Arsham for the piece, as well as a unique bottle case, because of the connection.
“We are blending wines from different universes, as Daniel really does in his work. He loves to blend different materials together,” said Gouez of the collaboration. It also marks the 280th anniversary of the LVMH-owned house founded by Claude Moët in 1743.
Gouez has been dreaming of creating a Champagne like this for almost 20 years. It will be a first for the luxury segment, and only 5,000 bottles will be produced.
“Nobody thought before to blend so largely and to play with so many ingredients, and to age the wines in different environments and walls,” he said of the ambitious project. “It’s a new concept, a new vision.”
Blends are typically from different grapes or regions, but Gouez’s blend is bringing together grapes that are aging in various materials — meaning stainless steel, oak cask and bottle.
“It has a never-before-seen complexity,” he said. Five reserve vintages aged in oak from 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006 and 2000 — a “mischievous” year Gouez said — along with a bottle-aged 2004 vintage and a “fresh” 2013.
Arsham spent time with Gouez at the domain to immerse himself in winemaking when they found the window. He took cues from the work including the cherubs, trumpets, vines and a drawing of the chateau itself for his piece. He created his sculpture in four parts, cracked and fragmented to appear ancient.
Now his piece will return to the chateau to be installed near the window that inspired it. The work is also rendered on a limited-edition sculptural carrier that houses the bottle; only 85 will be made.
He also learned about winemaking from Gouez.
“He’s crazy knowledgeable about all of these things that have to go into making the wine — from the composition of the earth that is in the region, to the weather to the blending of the Champagne,” he said. He showed him what works in wine, and what doesn’t.
“You never really get that experience when you’re drinking wine or Champagne. It’s always prepared for you in the way that it should be. So understanding what doesn’t work in a blend was informative.”
Arhsam said learning about the process made him understand how scientific it is — and he will stick to art. “It’s a little bit too technical for me. Making art is more loose, there’s not really any rush to it,” he said. “I’m happy to drink a lot of Champagne though.”
Parisian gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin, British director Nia DaCosta, actress Saffron Hocking, creative director Austin Snyder, photographer Tyler Mitchell, and jewelry designer Jury Kawamura, alongside Moët & Chandon creative director Khoa Dodinh, were among the creative crowd.
Michelin star chef Yannick Alléno prepared the meal, and reminded the guests of their esteemed company. “I’ve cooked twice this month – one for King Charles and tonight for you.”