Jay-Z puts an Ace in play

“To launch a champagne in the U.S. you either need three or four centuries of history, or have a big rapper behind you,” said Emeric Sauty de Chalon, the head of one of France’s leading online wine retailers, 1855.com in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Buried on page B2F of today’s Journal was a fascinating story about how Jay-Z, hip-hop mogul, selected Armand de Brignac, aka “Ace of Spades,” as his new champagne of choice (find this wine). Early last summer Jay-Z called for a boycott of Cristal after “racist” comments from Frederic Rouzaud, the boss at Louis Roederer, which makes Cristal.

In the WSJ story, Jean-Jacques Cattier, the brand owner tells how he was unable to sell his champagne in the American market for 20 years. Brett Berish of Sovereign Brands, a drinks importer and marketer based in New York, approached Cattier about reviving his old brand name “de Brignac.” The association of champagne growers, the CIVC, approved of reviving the name providing they added a first name. So they chose Armand since “it sounded kind of noble,” according to Cattier in the story.

Two points of “controversy” surround the launch. The first is whether Jay-Z has a stake in the brand, which he denies. This is not controversial in my view. Given the amount of promotion Jay-Z will no doubt do for the brand and the increasing amount of celebrity wines, this does not strike me as the least bit controversial. But it is funny how much Berish is denying it even going so far as to tell BusinessWeek “But it’s not like we just cooked this brand up to capitalize on that [the Cristal boycott].”

The second point is controversial in the same way that the Emperor’s clothes are controversial. Apparently the $300 Armand de Brignac tastes remarkably similar to a $60 bottle of Cattier’s wine only available in Europe. If you buy marketing, you should be expected to pay a premium.

“French Bubbly Garners Hip-Hop Cred” [$WSJ]
“Is the champagne in the Jay-z video for real? It’s complicated.” [BusinessWeek]

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10 Responses to “Jay-Z puts an Ace in play”

  1. Has anyone actually tasted it?

  2. […] “Jay-Z puts an Ace in play” [Dr. V] “Reader mailbag: finding Ace of Spades champagne” [Dr. […]

  3. […] of wine. That’s why, for example, Ace of Spades $300 nonvintage Champagne sells out when it tastes remarkably like the $50 version from the same producer. Hmm, maybe that’s why no samples of it were available during Vinexpo, […]

  4. […] details on the brand development: “Jay-Z puts an Ace in play” [Dr. V] My interactive map of NYC wine […]

  5. […] to the blog Guest of a Guest, spent $20k on a methuselah (six liters) of Armand de Brignac. Yes, Ace of Spades, so 2006! But still going strong, apparently. NY mag’s Grub Street terms this bling spend an […]

  6. Where can ı get ace of spade ın south afrıca, bloemfonteın?

  7. Can we, me and my busıness assocıates have a champagne tastıng ın bloemfonteın, south afrıca?

  8. […] it has been removed from their site and is available here). As we discussed back in 2006 (“Jay-Z puts an Ace in play“), drawing on stories in the WSJ and BusinessWeek, “Ace” is an absurdly priced […]

  9. […] also took that a step further a couple days later and ordered a Midas sized bottle of Ace of Spades. Yeah, that’s 40 normal sized bottles all in one. And they drank it straight from the bottle. […]

  10. […] the former spokesperson for Cristal, now prefers Ace of Spades, but is it for the taste alone?   According to a Dr. […]


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