JayZ vs. Louis Roederer – The *Bling* Lifestyle v *Bling* Champagne
An article or more importantly, a quote, in an article titled “Bubbles and Bling” in the May 8, 2006 Economist. When asked if an association between Cristal and the hip-hop lifestyle could actually hurt the brand Louis Roederer’s managing director, Frédéric Rouzaud said, “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”
When Jay-Z got wind of this his very public response was, “It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frédéric Rouzaud views the hip-hop culture as unwelcome attention,” Jay-Z said. “I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including the 40/40 Club nor in my personal life.”
Immediately both he and wife Beyonce ceased ordering bottles at restaurants and almost immediately following, Jay-Z replaced Cristal with Krug and Dom Pérignon in all of his 40/40 Clubs. Then what of these “gold bottles of ace of spades” In his song On to the Next One? Well, it’s reported that Jay-Z spotted Armand de Brignac in a liquor store in New York a while after his public boycott of Louis Roederer and was so taken with the bottle design that he ordered three cases from the estate to be featured in his music video Show Me What You Got. And now Armand de Brignac is Jay- Z’s staple champagne “bling” of choice.
When made aware of Jay-Z calling his comments “racist” and his boycott of Cristal, Mr. Rouzaud publically released this answer: “A house like Louis Roederer would not have existed since 1776 without being totally open and tolerant to all forms of culture and art, including the most recent musical and fashion styles which — like hip-hop — keep us in touch with modernity.”
I looked for a quote from Mr. Rouzaud which said the hip-hop culture swigging Cristal was unwelcome attention and found no such quote. The sub-heading of, “Unwanted Attention” was penned by the writer of the article. In an interview before turning over the reigns to his son, Frédéric Rouzaud said of his champagne, “We make our champagne for that 3-5% of consumers who really know wine and who take the time to taste it correctly.” Clearly Louis Roederer wants people to drink their champagne at the proper temperature, served in the proper glass and enjoyed in the proper way. I get it. They want their champagne to be savored not gulped…Racist? Nah. Classist? Maybe. True lover a wine? Absolutely.
Let’s be Howard-Stern-Style-Honest: All luxury brands spend money and a lot of resources to make sure their items are not just well made but known to be made well and those who eat, drink, wear or drive them are amazing for doing so. That is why most Americans feel eating Beluga caviar, drinking Dom, wearing Louboutins and driving a MayBach means you have arrived-you are successful-you are wealthy and one to be envied by all.
As a wine lover and sommelier I am saying wine should seduce you and help with the seduction of others. Wine, especially champagne, should bring people together not pull them apart.
What do you think, send us your thoughts!
Certified Sommelier, WSET, CM