BY: John “Hennry” Harris
Jay Z has launched a new brand of champagne from the Armand de Brignac ‘Ace of Spades’ blanc des noirs – which is his own company that was birthed after a feud was ignited between himself and Cristal Champagne.
The champagne comes in an eye-catching, grandiose pewter bottle stamped with a large spade symbol and will sell for $760 a bottle. The bubbly is the newest exclusive launch from Armand de Brignac, a company that Jay Z bought last year.
Only 3,000 of the bottles will be made. Similarly-branded bottles have existed before, but this new and more expensive installment is a ‘blanc de noirs’ – which means it is made only from pinot grapes.
The exclusive champagne will not even be sold at his 40/40 clubs, which serve up other vintages from his company.
Jay Z and other rappers popularized Cristal Champagne in their raps and frequently popped bottles of the champagne in their videos.
In 2006, Frederic Rouzaud, the managing director of Cristal maker Louis Roederer was asked by The Economist magazine if the association with rappers and the “bling lifestyle” could be detrimental to his brand, Rouzaud replied:
“That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”
Rouzaud called the rappers drinking Cristal as “unwelcome attention.”
Jay Z personally viewed the comments as racist and started his own boycott of the gold-wrapped bubbly. He removed Cristal from his 40/40 sports lounges, where he frequently sold bottles of Cristal for $450-$600, and stopped drinking it himself.
“I released a statement saying that I would never drink Cristal or promote it in any way or serve it at my clubs ever again. I felt like this was the bulls**t I’d been dealing with forever, this kind of offhanded, patronizing disrespect for the culture of hip-hop.”
Jay Z still has a way to go in earning respect. Bloomberg reporter Elin McCoy tasted Jay Z’s ‘blanc des noirs’ and reported on it for Bloomberg Business:
‘The buxom fruit flavors hit you right upfront and then reverberate like an insistent rap beat.’
However, he concluded that the brand was probably a waste of money compared to, for example, Cristal – and that ‘at least $400’ of the price is ‘for reputation’.