What do New Years Eve, weddings, anniversaries and countless other exciting events have in common? Champagne! The bubbly beverage has long been a symbol of celebration and good fortune, and the choice drink for toasts to the past, present, and future. What used to be a drink enjoyed by only the wealthiest members of high-class society is now a staple of special occasions for people of all walks of life. From its unique sparkling properties to its multitude of varieties, we have cultivated a taste for a fizzy favorite that serves as a visual reminder of the abundance and overflowing joy found in our hearts at times of celebration. (Even if some of it ends up on the floor!)
The process of manufacturing the perfect bottle of champagne started as an experiment for royalty in 17th century France, but developed into the life’s work of scientists and monks for centuries who wrote the recipe for success in giving us the best that sparkling wine can offer. A notable Benedictine monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon, even has a label named after him for his contributions to the craft. Today we reap the benefits of years of labor and dedication in a multitude of flavors, varying levels of sweetness, and qualities made for each and every taste and budget. In finding a favorite bottle to pop, however, does price make the difference between a memorable experience and a mediocre one? Some say the higher the price, the higher the quality, while others believe goodness can be found in the single digits! So what justifies the large price tag on some well-known brands, and does it set them apart from others enough to be considered the best champagne money can buy?
Right out of the gate, the spotlight is on none other than Dom Pérignon. It seems this monk made quite the discovery in his time that made a lasting impression on the taste buds and minds of those that came after bearing his name! A notable bottle is their 2004 Rosé. Praised for the intensity of production, complexity of aromas and flavors, and selective screening process for the best grapes for their vintage collection, the label brings consistent quality to the table for consumers to enjoy. Prices range from $150 for their more base varieties to their top of the line Dom Pérignon Rose 1959 at a whopping $84,000. For casual sippers this might sound extortionate, but those that know champagne know that in this case the superior quality that comes from centuries of experience makes every dollar worth it to the last delicious drop!
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Armand de Brignac
Another name seen frequently when browsing the aisles and heard often on the subject of the most luxurious champagne is Armand de Brignac and their Ace of Spades Gold. Once voted the world’s best champagne in a blind test, the brand and bottle have been seen often in the lens of pop culture as a favorite of Jay-Z and others! Known for its spiced, buttery, and warm palate with exotic floral notes, the soft and velvety experience is one tasters and celebrities alike rave about. Ranging between $225 and $450, the price tag buys more than smooth sipping, as some of the luxury comes from the brand name itself! After all, who can put a price on the feeling of high-class living that comes with a rapper’s seal of approval?
Louis Roederer Cristal
Yet another familiar name and a global favorite that holds a spot on the best champagne list is Louis Roederer Cristal and their 2007 Rosé. The brand has become an icon in the world of luxury and glamour all over the world as an established, tried ,tested, and true pour that makes it a go-to for all kinds of tastes and occasions. The bright notes of pure fruit make for an elegant taste that was once popular amongst royal courts in 19th century Russia and is craved in wine culture today. Many factors go into the final price tag on the bottle, including the quality of grapes used and the manufacturing processes. Because the grapes must be of a certain quality, they aren’t always harvested annually, making the final bottles distributed and sold even more coveted and rare. This particular rosé clocks in at $550, but other varieties can be more or less depending on the type and year, with the cheapest sitting at $200. A small price to pay, some would say, for a timeless version of a classic.
Gout de Diamants
One label cannot be ignored when talking about the most luxurious, best tasting, and expensive champagnes, and that is the Gout de Diamants, or Taste of Diamonds. Universally known as the most expensive, and considered the most exclusive, a taste of these diamonds costs $1.8 million. The reason? The bottle itself! Designed by Alexander Amosu, the pewter bottle holds an 18 carat white gold plate with a 19 carat deep cut diamond in-set at the top. The very picture of class, luxury, and a vintage style that add to its unique brand. With a bottle like that, the contents should be of a like quality that justifies the weight lifted from your wallet!
When it comes to the price we pay for quality champagne, it seems the more that goes into the bottle, the more you get out, so to speak. The time a bottle takes to produce, amount of labor involved, and level name recognition will all play a factor in the final price tag, and that can ultimately determine the whole experience for us as consumers. These options above are prime examples of the years of work, design, and dedication to a craft that go into our New Year’s toasts and morning mimosas. Whether the price of elegance, luxury, or quality is worth it is up to you! What that perfect match of price to quality looks like will vary for each individual, but sometimes we could all stand to raise the bar and treat ourselves to a better bottle of bubbly that our taste buds will thank us for.