Wine & Food


    Does Jay Z’s Armand de Brignac champagne pass the taste test?

    16 January 2020

    So, Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar – or rather the ice bucket – at the Golden Globes. Gasping with thirst after she and her companions ran out of water at the showbiz shindig last week, La Witherspoon leaned over to the neighbouring table and cheekily asked uber-rapper Jay-Z for a glass or so of the champagne he was drinking.

    Jay-Z and his missus, Beyoncé, who – equally cheekily – had brought bottles of their own-brand Armand de Brignac Champagne along to the bash (corkage, what corkage?), were happy to oblige.

    And, in a further PR masterstroke, Jay-Z later sent Miss Witherspoon a case of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold NV for her trouble, with a note saying “More water from Jay and B.” Winners all round!

    There’s no question that Armand de Brignac (aka Ace of Spades thanks to its distinctive logo) is a very fine fizz. A couple of years ago, A de B’s Blanc de Noirs, the rarest wine in the range, was declared best Blanc de Noirs in the world at a blind tasting of 250 cuvées held by FINE Champagne Magazine and, and the wine world suddenly took notice.

    Famously, Jay-Z and his fellow rappers used to be devoted to Louis Roederer’s Cristal, one of the grandest of all prestige cuvée champagnes, until a notoriously ill-judged comment by Roederer’s MD, Frédéric Rouzaud, drove them away. On being asked whether he minded rappers drinking his fizz at swanky night clubs, Rouzaud had replied, “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it.”

    In a fit of pique, Jay-Z transferred his affections to Armand de Brignac, produced by Jean-Jacques Cattier and his son Alexandre, whose family have been making wine in Champagne since 1763 and whose own Cattier Champagne is extremely fine. Jay-Z loved the fizz so much that he bought the brand in 2014.

    Armand de Brignac Champagne, owned by Jay Z

    Armand de Brignac Champagne, owned by Jay Z

    Since then, of course, Armand de Brignac has gone from strength to strength. Well-heeled consumers love the flash metallic bottles in which the champagne is presented and the connoisseurs love the fizz inside.

    I’ve tried the range and was hugely impressed but, crikey, it’s pricey. The Brut Gold is delectably creamy and toasty with the longest and most elegant of finishes. But is it worth £300 a bottle? Or, to put it another way, would you rather one bottle of Brut Gold or eight of the Spectator’s favourite Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV or seven of the exquisite Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV?

    And as for that Armand de Brignac Blanc de Noirs, well, it’s a stunner, and so it should be at a cool £1,095 a bottle. I have to be honest, though, and say that I’d rather enjoy a return Eurostar trip to Paris (£169), a ticket to the Bastille Opéra (£92.50), dinner at Brasserie Bofinger (c£100), post-prandials at the Experimental Cocktail Club (c£30), a night in the Hôtel Adèle & Jules (£151) and lunch the following day at Terminus Nord (c£40) complete with bottle of Dom Pérignon (£214). And I’d still have £298.50 spending money. Just saying.