Will Cooked be Wined?
Will Smith may play the role of Chef Jeff Henderson of the Cafe Bellagio. Reprising his rags-to-riches, overcoming-adversity success in Happyness, Smith may play the lead role in a film adapted from Henderson’s autobiography, “Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras.” Just think if he throws in a scene extolling the virtues of wine–it could be a boom bigger than Sideways with his starpower! [via Slashfood]
Jay-Z holds an Ace
Jay-Z makes Page Six today. Not news for us. But what is news is that the gossip hounds say the Cherry Coke and Budweiser pitchman is getting throw some more bubbly in the mix by formalizing an ownership stake in Armand de Brignac, aka Ace of Spades. The champagne brand was cooked up last summer. Page Six reports that 100 cases of the bubbly has gone missing from a Florida warehouse. But for those willing to pay, it is now available from select retailers for $300 and up (find ace of spades). [NY Post]
Wine that loves…food
A new line of “wine that loves” certain types of food is to be launched in coming months. Cute label images tell drinkers which food to drink it with starting with three popular meals–roasted chicken, pasta, and pizza. No word on whether the back label reveals trivial details such as the grape variety, region, or vintage. And what if I like pinot noir with my salmon but their “salmon” wine is a chardonnay? Or if I like the pizza wine with my pasta? Eegad. Insurrection! [BusinessWeek]
A waiter from Chanterelle in Tribeca tells NY mag how one of his diners didn’t drink wine but wanted to look as if he were drinking wine in front of the rest of the party. So the waiter substituted ginger ale for champagne and pretended to spill water in the red wine glass returning with organic grape juice in the wine glass. Very odd. Didn’t anyone at the table wonder why he was pounding the “wine”? [Grub Street]
Congratulations on your nuptials! Sadly if your wedding is in the US, the wine–formally known as Armand de Brignac–won’t be here in time for your big day. According to the American importer, Sovereign Brands, a December launch is planned. But even then the wine will be in limited supply. (search to buy Ace of Spades Champagne online)
Via email the manager at Crush, the hipster wine shop in midtown Manhattan, told me they are 99% likely to carry the wine but do not have all the details sorted out yet. The wine may even be available directly from the importer according to their website.
If you’re getting married in France you stand a chance of finding it. According to the WSJ, Michel Platini, French soccer legend, ordered 100 bottles of Cattier champagne for his son’s wedding this month.
UPDATE: An anonymous tipster has sent in this photo of Armand de Brignac as seen in New Jersey! It HAS hit our hallowed shores! I just guess you need some clout to get it.
“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]
All of a sudden it seems like wine is made for the bling bling lifestyle. A couple of weeks ago, Jay-Z flushed one $300 bottle of Champagne and switched to another.
Then I got this email from a NYC retailer about the availability of these wines from Bordeaux 2005:
Latour, $9500 per case, 98-100pts WA
Cheval Blanc, $8999 per case, 95-98pts WA
Margaux, $8999 per case, 96-100pts WA
Lafite Rothschild, $7500 per case, 95-100pts WS
But enough about that since I have already droned on and on about it. I spotted this article about the new
super rich “ultra high net worth individuals” in the Belfast Telegraph. In between private jets, $150 Wegyu beef sandwiches, yachts, and Bentleys, there’s (almost) always room for some bling bling wine:
The new Bordeaux vintage is proving to be a big draw for Russian and Chinese tycoons who have developed a new interest in the grape, but again, the problem is supply. Chateaux Ausone is selling en primeur (ie rough and not ready) for £6,000 a case. “We could buy 100 cases and sell out in 20 minutes,” a Berry Bros spokesman said.
But come on billionaires! Don’t just settle for a few $10,000 cases of wine, buy the whole vineyard! Don’t keep up with the Jonses, blow them away! Build a Gehry-designed winery!
* * * * * * *
Coincidentally, Al Brounstein of Diamond Creek, the man who perhaps brought cult wine to America, died this week. Frank Prial’s obit had this little nugget:
His first vintage was in 1972. His first vintage of Lake, in 1978, sold for $100 a bottle, a price then unheard of. Later vintages sold for up to $300 a bottle when better-known Napa wines might bring $70. Once asked why he charged so much, Mr. Brounstein said, “Because I can get it.”