When Hip Hop and Fine Wine Collide
When Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne first became astronomically popular with celebrities, it became considerably more difficult for us mere mortals to get our hands on. I was working in the retail trade at the time, and our annual allocation in one of the shops I worked in was three bottles of Cristal, and one bottle of J-Lo’s favourite, Cristal Rosé. Not a great deal, really!
But then they had to take it one step further. Hip hop stars began making reference to Cristal in their songs. They were seen drinking it in music videos. When they began mixing it with Courvoisier brandy, another hip hop favourite, to make some sort of concoction that insults both drinks (sorry, I know it’s a cocktail, I just don’t get it) it was apparent that they weren’t going to get sick of it any time soon. And like hip hop itself, the craze went wild, and global.
When asked how he felt about all the attention generated by hip hop stars, Louis Roederer’s MD managed to insult – perhaps on purpose – hip hop and rap culture in its entirety, by explaining that he viewed the attention from hip hop stars with curiosity, that he couldn’t stop people from buying Cristal, and that he thought rival Champagne brands Dom Pérignon and Krug would be glad of the attention. This rather sweeping (and quite amusing) statement served only to antagonise hip hop’s biggest star Jay-Z who reportedly said he would never serve Cristal in any of his clubs again, or mention it in his songs. I don’t know what the preferred hip hop tipple is now, but it certainly hasn’t done Cristal any harm.
So… will there come a time when hip hop stars thirst for a more serious drink? Well, Bordeaux has more to offer hip hop culture than you might think. It has a reputation for being very expensive, and very desirable. Someone who could be seen drinking Chateau Lafite would be someone who had money and power, both highly desirable characteristics in hip hop culture. The only question mark is over image really – is Bordeaux cool? It certainly isn’t cool in a ‘look at me, I’m Cristal, look how hedonistic and bubbly I am!’ kind of way, but maybe in a less obvious and rather grizzly ‘look at me, I require serious contemplation and swigging me straight out of the bottle is a terrible idea’ sort of way.
But, stranger things have happened. Cellaring and decanting don’t fit in well with the hedonistic celebrity lifestyle, but there is always a way round that – if you pop the cork on a young wine and find it tannic and difficult to drink, the solution is at hand. Find something equally hedonistic to mix it with; that will take the edge off those nasty tannins. And then start a global craze. So 12×75.com has come up with some possible ideas for mixers:
- Red Bull – an obvious choice, the most expensive of the soft drinks and a popular mixer. Surely a Mouton-Rothschild/Red Bull blend would add a refreshing twist to the popular first growth?
- Trockenbeerenauslese – the addition of a relatively rare, very expensive German dessert wine to Chateau Petrus is certain to result in something even better than either of its components.
- Kopi Luwak – infusing Chateau Margaux with the world’s most expensive coffee, that is partly digested and excreted by the palm civet, a weasel-like creature found in Indonesia, can surely create a blend worthy of A-listers.
Okay so these are stupid. But we shouldn’t dismiss the hip hop market, its stars are hugely influential and once they get their hands on Bordeaux’s finest, we might wish we had taken them more seriously. Or maybe a dose of hip hop culture is just what Bordeaux needs – after all, the allure of the attractive Asian market provoked producers to compete with one another for the attention of this new market. What if the objects of their affection were P Diddy and Jay-Z? Would they embrace and court this new market, by fishing for a mention in their rap lyrics? Or would they try to ignore it, preferring instead to persist with the old school Bordeaux stalwarts and further penetration in Asia? Either way, it has potential to shake up the market and it is definitely something I would like to see….