By Rick Rizza

Who would have thunk?! Never in a hundred harvests would I have expected a world famous premium Champagne producer to be encouraging all God’s creatures (well—the adults of course) to pour their liquid gold into a tumbler of ice for the ultimate chill libation. It’s a brave new wine world out there that we need to embrace.

Sure we know about wine cocktails which are sometimes poured on ice but who’s really using a Napa Cab for that! I personally don’t run with the crowd that cooks with Krug and uses Cristal as mouthwash. For me, it’s definitely a treat to be quaffing a world class Champagne on any occasion. And for certain, I haven’t been pouring any of that over ice.

So here was the scene: Pavilions pooled all their wine stewards from Southern California to taste a bevy of brew and vast amount of vino that the store showcases. After tasting a set of 25 wines in the morning session, the group was treated to some craft beer with a catered meal for lunch. We were told that a representative from the Champagne House of Moët & Chandon would be on hand to commence the afternoon session with a quick discussion to showcase and then to taste a premium Champagne from their portfolio. I seconded that, and, looked forward to liquid dessert.


The PR for this Champagne house is definitely up-beat and modern: “Established in 1743 by Claude Moët, around the world the name Moët & Chandon is instantly linked with both venerable tradition and modern pleasures—a luminous, longtime presence at glamorous venues ranging from the red carpet festivals and awards ceremonies of international cinema to the winner’s circle at the most prestigious athletic competitions.” Sounds like a Champagne for the jet-set.

Returning from lunch to our seminar room, we saw at each of our settings, a large crystal tumbler containing three chubby cubes of pristine ice sweating away in gilded liquor. Very happy to be enjoying a premium champagne, but a bit uneasy watching the ice slowly melt into the wine. And things got more uneasy—where the heck is the Champagne rep to get things started? Had they made a mistake by even pouring the stuff over ice!? Did someone stroke out? Am I stroking out!? And where the heck is the Champagne rep?

Ok-ok. Things happen—relax. Forget the intro, I’ll just handle this myself and gulp this baby down before all the ice melts away! Brave new world or not, it’s still fun to experience how a great French Champagne maker can be in hot pursuit of some cold company. In spite of the melt-down, (which was of course planned) this “iced” Champagne broke out with a beautiful bouquet of tropical & stone fruit notes, with a touch of raspberry. Very tasty and smooth with a round generous palate of fresh fruit salad cradled about with a balanced acidity of grapefruit and ginger. And the bubbles were there, but obviously, not so frenzied.

The winemaker’s notes: “Moët Ice Impérial, the first and only champagne especially created to be enjoyed over ice. A new champagne experience combining fun, fresh and free sensations while remaining true to the Moët & Chandon style, a style distinguished by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity.” Be the first to shock your block being seen drinking Premium Champagne on ice!

The winemaker’s “secret” in producing a wine to match with ice is a variation on the classic three grape Champagne recipe (Actually, “real” French Champagne can only utilize the three grapes). The Impérial Ice Champagne assemblage is about 40-50% Pinot Noir for structure and intense fruitiness; 30-40% Pinot Meunier (30-40%), for a full, fleshy, and rich melting sensation on the mid-palate; and, 10-20% Chardonnay for a tasty refreshing finish. The other part of the recipe is that from one-fourth to a third of the bottle is from specially selected reserved wine to complete its intensity, richness and constancy.

Actually, this product has been out for a couple of years—but definitely under the radar here in our desert. Well—it’s out and about now, and sells for a “re-newed” introductory price of around $55 at Pavilions in Rancho Mirage. Clearly a treat for those special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and when you wish to splurge with the jet-set, or, simply staying in for a romantic afternoon in the desert.

Moët’s representative of course did make it back and had a fun time of it all. And the fun times will continue at Pavilions, where a special tasting of Impérial Ice Champagne will take place in the fall. So please keep in touch. Cheers!

Rick is the wine steward at Pavilions in Rancho Mirage and wittily titles himself the “sommelier-about-town” in this Vino Voice column, where his beat is to eat, drink, and cover the gustatory scene of the CV. A freelance writer and contributor to Tasting Panel Magazine, a wine reviewer for, he is also the Brand Ambassador for the historic Galleano Winery. Rick conducts & entertains locally at wine tastings, food & wine pairing events and fun wine seminars. Contact