Decanter's tasting director Christelle Guibert has put her palate to work on rapper Jay Z's Armand de Brignac Champagne, which sells for hundreds of pounds per bottle. Here's what she thought of the wines...
Tasting Jay Z’s Champagne
Jay Z increased his ownership stake in Armand de Brignac Champagne, nicknamed ‘Ace of Spades’, in 2014 after buying out Sovereign Brands.
Hip-hop fans might have glimpsed the brand’s ostentatious, gold bottle making a cameo appearance in Jay Z’s 2006 video for ‘Show Me What You Got’.
Scroll down to see the tasting notes & scores
Ace of Spades has a reputation as a party Champagne and is believed to be the only one available in a 30-litre ‘Midas’ bottle.
Russian footballers from Euro 2016 found this out to their cost over the summer after being fined for attending a beach party where trays of the Champagne were being served to guests with sparklers, to the tune of the Russian national anthem.
But behind the high roller image, how good is the wine?
It is, after all, made by the Cattier family, which founded its Champagne house in 1763, before the French Revolution.
‘If you put aside the bling bling packaging and the high price tags, the content of the bottles is actually quite impressive,’ said Decanter’s tasting director, Christelle Guibert, after sampling the range.
‘With the [new] 100% Pinot Noir ‘Blanc de Noirs’ going for £695, Armand de Brignac is one of the most expensive Champagne on the market. Yes, it is very expensive but so is some of the other luxury Champagne, so we are not here to discuss value.’
Ace of Spades: Tasted
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More about Armand de Brignac Champagne:
Copy below by Christelle Guibert. Edited by Chris Mercer.
It is believed Cattier still owns part of the Armand de Brignac brand alongside Jay-Z, but specific details have not been disclosed.
Cattier, which has a long history of producing Champagne for others under licence, makes around 100,000 bottles of Armand de Brignac each year, representing only a small proportion of the family’s total annual sales of 1 million bottles.
The family owns 33 hectares of vineyards and the split between grapes bought or owned is approximately 50%.
Emilien Boutillat, the winemaker, is one of the 14 people working on the Armand de Brignac brand.
He told Decanter.com that only the first portion of the press is used to ensure pristine juice, fresh flavours and the highest acidity possible.
The wines spend at least three years on lees and three to six months in bottle after disgorgement. Each one of the 100,000 bottles is dressed with a metal coating made of aluminium and finished by hand; polished and fitted with four pewter labels.
The range is available from 75cl bottle to 30-litre Midas, and is believed to be the only Champagne to be available in a 30-litre bottle.