Moët & Chandon

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Champagne house producing the single most important champagne brand in the world, and part of the vast lvmh group. The Champagne house was founded by Claude Moët, born in 1683 to a family which had settled in the Champagne district during the 14th century. He inherited vineyards and became a wine merchant, establishing his own firm in 1743. He was succeeded by his son Claude-Louis Nicolas and his grandson Jean-Rémy Moët, who used his impressive connections to open up international markets for his wine. Jean-Rémy was a close personal friend of Napoleon Bonaparte, and was awarded the cross of the Légion d’Honneur in the final years of the emperor’s rule. In 1832, Jean-Rémy handed over the firm to his son Victor and his son-in-law Pierre-Gabriel Chandon. At the same time, the company acquired the Abbey of Hautvillers and its vineyards (see pérignon, dom). In 1962, Moët & Chandon’s shares were quoted for the first time on the Paris Stock Exchange, leading to a period of considerable expansion. First, Moët bought shares in Ruinart Père et Fils, the oldest Champagne house, in 1963. Five years later, it acquired a 34% stake in Parfums Christian Dior, increasing this to a 50% stake shortly afterwards. In 1970, Moët took control of Champagne Mercier, a popular brand in France, and capped it all by buying out Dior and merging with the cognac house of Hennessy in 1971 to form the holding company Moët Hennessy. The acquisitions continued unabated, including, in 1981, a stake in the American importers Schieffelin. At one stage the company’s American investment also involved the Simi winery in Sonoma, Moët having established Domaine Chandon, a seminal sparkling California winemaking establishment in the Napa Valley, in 1973.