There was a time when Champagne was produced only for the elite, but now it is available in every corner of the world and a must-have for a celebration, and the best varieties are only available in limited quantities. If you are a Champagne enthusiast and want to impress dinner party guests or wow your significant other on Valentine’s Day, get your hands on one of these world-renowned, very special bottles of heavenly bubbles. Most are very scarce, so good luck on your search.
Handcrafted from 18-carat solid gold, Goût de Diamants’ Superman-style signature logo has a single, flawless deep-cut 19-carat white diamond in the centre, replacing the Swarovski crystal that normally inhabits the space. This is the most expensive champagne in the world and at R12.5 million this is one bottle that won’t be tossed into the recycling bin. UK designer Alexander Amosu, who, in 2009, set a Guinness World Record for creating the most valuable suit, designed this one-of-a-kind bottle of bubbly for an unnamed private client. If you could extract the diamond from the bottle, this champagne could double up as one hell of an engagement ring!
A Delicious Wreck
Considered to be the holy grail of champagnes, Shipwrecked 1907 Heidseick was discovered perfectly preserved under the sea in 1997. A whopping 200 bottles were recovered and champagne lovers all over the world are fighting for it. Sold at over R2.8 million per bottle, this vintage is highly sought after.
The Taste of Royalty
Described recently as “one of the greatest champagnes ever made” by the head of Sotheby’s wine department, Krug 1928 is an exquisite vintage which is a little more accessible and affordable. This acclaimed champagne was served for King George VI and his guests at the first royal banquet at Buckingham Palace after the Second World War ended in Europe. The very first bottle of Krug 1928 was manufactured using the best variety of grapes and has since managed to please generations of champagne lovers with its unbelievable taste, which has increased with each passing year. In 2009, Krug 1928 broke the world record for the most expensive bottle of champagne sold at auction, going for a whopping R225 500, which was more than R60 000 more than the highest estimated price. As the flavour improves, so does the price, and today a bottle of Krug 1928 will set you back just short of R220 000.
Larger Than Life
The most stylish and one of the most exotic champagnes is Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon 1995 White Gold Jeroboam. This champagne masterpiece, of which only 100 bottles were produced, is laser-engraved with the Dom Pérignon label. This huge three-litre Jeroboam of prestige cuvée appeals to the more extravagant champagne buyer who loves to show off. The Jeroboam is four times larger than a standard champagne bottle and the plated white gold bottle sheath is what commands the enormous price of around R127 000 at Harrods, London. For the record, Moët is pronounced “mow-ette” not “mow-eh”. Now you know.
For many champagne-lovers, Cristal is the most opulent prestige cuvée. This champagne has a truly loyal and exclusive heritage, which is reflected in the superior presentation of the bottle which is made of a type of lead crystal. The very beautiful Champagne Cristal Brut 1990 is famous worldwide, named “Methuselah”. The bottle, with its incredible gold label and royal vintage look, is eight times larger than standard size and was only produced in very limited quantities. This liquid gold can be yours, if you can find it, for a mere R180 000.
Prepared from special fruits and made from their vintage liquors, Perrier-Jouet Champagne is rich in taste and has an exceptionally mesmerising aroma. Since the early part of the 19th Century, the prestigious Perrier-Jouet champagne house has saved and stored bottles from its greatest vintages. Amazingly, in 2009, their 1825 vintage was one of the oldest drinkable champagne on earth. To own a bottle of this wonder from ages past, you will have to shell out at least R69 000.
Imagine having the option of personalising champagne according to your own taste? Well, if you have R520 000 to spare, you can buy yourself the Perrier-Jouet champagne, which is a pack of 12 bottles that you can mix to create your own personal, unique champagne. If you’d like to stand out among champagne connoisseurs, this tailor-made option is a winner.
Singular Sparkling Sensation
Krug Company, which produces some of the most expensive champagnes on the planet, unveiled the extraordinary Clos d’Ambonnay in 2008. It is an exception to Krug’s unique and traditional style of champagne cuvées because it is produced from a single grape variety, in a single year and from a single vineyard. It is also Krug’s only white champagne made with red grapes – making it 100% pinot noir. The production of this exceptional champagne was limited to only 3,000 bottles and at R37 000 apiece, is certainly not your average bottle of bubbly.
True to its Roots
If you are a champagne-lover and you have never popped open a bottle of ‘Bolly’, get ready for a treat. If you think the name “Bollinger Blanc De Noirs Vieilles Vignes Francaises” is a mouthful, know that its marvellous taste is worth more than a mouthful. Uniquely, it is produced with grapes from Bollinger’s pinot noir vines, which, unlike most other fine wines worldwide, are not grafted onto American roots. Every year Bollinger produces around 5,000 bottles, with a price tag of about R7 000 each. Lily Bollinger was quoted as saying, “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”
A Bubbly Box - 3 Quick Tips
- Do not over-chill champagne. Although it should never be warm, it is far worse for it to be icy or nearly frozen.
- Do not under-fill your ice bucket; you will only chill half the bottle. Add cold water to ice cubes to make sure the bottle is well submerged.
- Do not chill champagne glasses ahead of the time. This will have a negative impact on the release of the bubbles and the bouquet of the champagne.