When it comes to buying bubbly, most of us subconsciously break it down into three categories; the everyday bottle, the celebratory splurge, and the out-of-this-world aspirational bottles we know we’ll never have. With regard to luxury sparkling, there’s one name that’s synonymous with extravagant sipping: Cristal. Thanks to a combination of quality craftsmanship, hand-harvested fruit exclusively from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards, and, of course, numerous celebrity endorsements, Cristal has taken off as arguably the best-known treat yo’self bottle on the market. However, there are actually quite a lot of unknown facts behind this opulent bottle of bubbly; here are 10 of them.
Cristal Was First Created for a Russian Tsar
It’s true — Cristal was first created for Alexander II in 1876. As Russia became less stable and Alexander feared death, he commanded that his Champagne be bottled clear and with a flat bottom, in order to ensure no bombs were placed beneath the bottles.
In 1933, Louis Roederer, the estate where Cristal is produced, was overseen by Léon-Orly Roederer’s widow, Camille, for several decades. Her strong-mindedness and intellect brought refinement and elegance to the wines’ craftsmanship. According to Roederer, she “embraced the more festive and pleasurable aspects of Champagne.”
All In the Family
Cristal remains in the Roederer family to this day. The estate is currently overseen by Frédéric Rouzaud, the seventh generation of the family.
Quality Over Quantity
Cristal is only produced in the best vintages in the Champagne region. In the last decade, only 2006, 2007, and 2009 have been released.
Passion for Pink
Cristal Rosé was first released to the market in 1974. While the assemblage for Brut is nearly equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the rosé bottling contains more Pinot Noir and gets its pink pigment from red wine, not grape skins.
Shun the Sun
There’s a reason that Cristal bottles come packaged in that gold wrapping paper. The shiny cellophane is actually anti-UV, which protects the clear-bottled wine from damaging sun rays that can quickly cook a wine.
A Perfect 10
In 2002, Cristal was christened with a perfect 100-point score from Wine & Spirits magazine, a virtually impossible feat for even the most prestigious of wines.
And it doesn’t stop at a perfect 100-point score. Cristal is considered a Veblen Good, an economic term describing a material good “for which the demand is proportional to its high price; an apparent contradiction to the law of demand.” These high prices deem such products as status symbols and signs of leisurely luxuriousness. In other words, the thirst is real.
Like many other celebrities, Jay-Z was an openly huge supporter of Cristal. However, things changed in 2006, when Frédéric Rouzaud expressed the brand’s positive reception from the hip- hop community with “curiosity and serenity.” He followed the statement in questioning “but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it.” Many reactions were had to the statement, including a strongly negative one from Jay-Z, deeming the comments racist and vowing to never drink, serve, or promote the stuff in any of his clubs ever again. The brand’s position in the hip- hop community has since taken a serious fall.
Tupac’s Stamp of Approval
Even Tupac loved the stuff. The infamous rapper created a cocktail, the “Thug Passion,” a combination of Alizé Gold Passion and Cristal.