Is a $2,000 Champagne Really Worth It?
The newly released 2000 Krug Clos D’Ambonnay Brut Champagne is a glorious bottle of wine. It’s easily the best new Champagne I’ve tasted this year. There are only 5,000 bottles of it. And the price is $2,000 a bottle.
Have you ever driven a Bugatti Veyron? Me neither. Would you like to drive one? Me too. I mean, what the heck, the thing can go 250 miles per hour.
Ah…but would you buy a Bugatti Veyron, given it would cost you well over a million dollars?
The newly released 2000 Krug Clos D’Ambonnay Brut Champagne is a glorious bottle of wine. It has a complex aroma that suggests toast, orange peel, spring flowers and spices; it’s powerful but nuanced, the fruit recalling apple, lemon and strawberry, the flavors rich and lasting. It comes from a single walled vineyard in the town of Ambonnay, a third the size of Krug’s famous Clos des Mesnil vineyard, entirely planted to Pinot Noir. It’s easily the best new Champagne I’ve tasted this year. There are only 5,000 bottles of it. The price is $2,000 a bottle.
The thing is, when you price a wine at $2,000 a bottle (or a car at $1.5 million), you automatically create a narrative about value: Is it worth it? Is a Patek Philippe Calatrava watch worth $10,500? It doesn’t keep time any better than a $24 Timex Quartz Easy Reader, so why buy it? That Bugatti accelerates so fast that you have to replace its tires (which cost $30,000 for a set) every 2,500 miles. Is that worth the money?
If Clos D’Ambonnay weren’t a wonderful wine, this question would be moot. For instance, you can buy a Versace dog bowl for $879. Regarding an $879 dog bowl, the only reasonable answer to the question “Is it worth it?” is “Are you out of your mind?”
But Clos D’Ambonnay is that good. So the question really becomes, “Is it worth that price to you?” If you are Jay Z and are worth $560 million or so, sure. $2,000 is pocket change. If you are me and worth some comical fraction of that, not so much. For me, buying a $2,000 bottle of wine—any wine—is not worth it; I’d rather pay my mortgage (and have money left over) instead.
Thankfully, the current release of the Krug’s Grande Cuvee Brut Champagne also happens to be a wonderful wine. It isn’t inexpensive (none of Krug’s wines are) but at $170 a bottle, it’s a twelfth of the price of Clos D’Ambonnay. Equal if not more care goes into making it; Krug does 240 separate vinifications each year, one from each plot of vines they use. After that, chef du cave Eric Abele and the team taste 800 different samples every winter, both of the new wines and from the 150 different reserve wines that potentially go into the blend. It’s worth noting that both Clos D’Ambonnay and Clos des Mesnil, the vineyards that make Krug’s two priciest wines, were both originally bought for Grande Cuvee.
Grande Cuvee is a classic: layered and complex, a great Champagne, and sui generis. No one else makes anything like it. Clos D’Ambonnay is perhaps better; certainly different; a rarity. Buy one; buy the other. It's your call.
Or you can be like Madonna, who apparently said that her guilty pleasure is Krug Rosé ($299) and french fries. At least that’s what Olivier Krug told me. Then he said, “But she’s wrong about one thing. You never have to feel guilty when you’re drinking Champagne.”
And that little bit of truth is invaluable.