The 1874 Perrier-Jouët also set a record back in 1888.
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Someone just put a serious dent in their holiday bubbly budget. On Friday, an unnamed buyer purchased a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Champagne from the 1874 vintage for nearly $57,000 — not only smashing its $20,000 top price estimate but also setting the record for the most expensive bottle of Champagne ever auctioned off by Christie's.

Perrier-Jouët Vintage Champagne
Credit: Courtesy of Perrier-Jouët Vintage

Beyond the history inherent to any 147-year-old bottle, this Perrier-Jouët Brut Millésimé 1874 has another claim to fame: According to Christie's, a bottle from this vintage purchased way back in 1888 held the distinction of being the most expensive bottle of Champagne ever sold at auction until that record was finally eclipsed in 1967. So in some ways, this sale — where the single, unlabeled bottle pulled directly from the Champagne house's cellar sold for £42,875 (about $56,800) — brings the record home to roost.

Perrier-Jouët Vintage Champagne
Credit: Courtesy of Perrier-Jouët Vintage

"Christie's are delighted with the sale of Historic Vintages direct from Maison Perrier-Jouët with all of the lots selling," Tim Triptree MW, international director for Christie's Wine & Spirits Department, stated after the auction. "In the London sale, we experienced competitive bidding resulting in impressive prices — particularly for the bottle of 1874 and magnums of 1979 Belle Époque, which doubled their high estimates. The whole collection performed above expectations, which is testament to the high reputation of the Maison and the demand for finest and rarest vintages of Champagne with perfect provenance."

In the lead-up to the auction, Triptree spoke to just how rare and well preserved this bottle was. "As far as I know, no one other than Perrier-Jouët has any of this champagne left," he stated. "It has spent almost 150 years in ideal conditions… It's had no movement, and the vault's darkness, temperature of 11 to 14 degrees Celsius, and 98 percent relative humidity, are perfect for maturation."

Perrier-Jouët Vintage Champagne
Credit: Courtesy of Perrier-Jouët Vintage

However, the bottle itself wasn't the only thing included in the price tag. The winning bidder will also be receiving a VIP Maison Perrier-Jouët Experience which includes "a night at Maison Belle Epoque for up to 10 people, a guided tour of the house and the cellars, a tasting of the full range of current Perrier-Jouët cuvées and the 1874 vintage with Cellar Master Séverine Frerson, and a gastronomic meal prepared by three Michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire with champagne pairings from the Oenothèque Perrier-Jouët."

And what should the drinkers expect when they dive into their $57,000 bottle? "Well, it will probably have lost most of its fizz, as the effervescence declines over time, but it should still retain a vibrant acidity and freshness," Triptree explained. "The color will have moved from a pale lemon-green to a golden amber, and it will also have developed additional complexities, changing from the notes of citrus and green apple that are common in young champagne to a more mature palate of butterscotch, caramel and honey."

Frerson also chimed in with some tasting notes. "With such an old vintage, I expect aromas of incense and cognac, together with vanilla, tobacco and marmalade," she was quoted as saying. "There may even be charming hints of chocolate."