Cristal – Champagne of the Tsar and of the rap stars
Cristal has been a status symbol of club goers and entertainers who make specific mention of it in their music and everyday speech. It is often nicknamed stal, cris or crissy. A common price within the United States for a bottle is $350 or more. Whereas in the United Kingdom the bottles of Cristal are priced around £150 for each bottle, however in some bars in central London this price can rise to £650.
Cristal Champagne was first produced in 1876 for Russia’s Alexander II. The political situation within Russia during this time was very unstable and the tsar was in constant fear of being assassinated. The Tsar then ordered that all of the Cristal bottles to be made clear to ensure that a bomb could not be hidden in the green bottle that they used to be bottled in. Louis Roederer hired a renowned Flemish glass maker to design the unique Cristal champagne bottle with a flat bottom. These new Cristal bottles were constructed from common glass with a somewhat bell shape bottom. This construct made the bottles strong enough to handle the pressure produced by the champagne. In the process of creating the flattened bottom of the Cristal bottle, the bottle maker had to use a stronger, clear lead crystal. This is when the champagne received the name “Cristal”. The original Cristal formula was made with “sec” or sweet for the royal family that had a sweet tooth. Upon the assassination of the prominent royal family in the year 1917, the rest of the sec champagne within France was auctioned to a buyer within South Africa.
Cristal Pop Culture / Rap Controversy
In the year 2006, managing director Frederic Rouzand stated to the Economist regarding the associations with rap stars affecting the marque of the Cristal brand that:
“That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”
Upon the release of this statement, hip hop mogul and rapper Jay Z boycotted the product within his personal life and removed it from all clubs that he owned stating that the organization was racist. P. Diddy and Jay Z have been quoted as saying “Fuck Cris” in their albums. Rouzand stated further after the reactions to his first statements that Cristal’s strength as a business can be directly attributed to the company and the brands willingness to embrace all types of cultures including the lucrative hip hop culture. Prior to this statement, Rouzand had stated that he viewed the entire hip hop community with “serenity and curiosity.”
Some more facts:
Cristal is distinguished by its flat bottomed bottle, anti-UV cellophane wrapper and gold label.
According to bestwinegifts.com, the grape composition for Cristal is comprised of 55 percent Pinot noir and 45 percent Chardonnay.
A bottle of Cristal sells for $400 in the liquor store, while restaurants can charge up to double that amount.
Around 300,000 to 400,000 bottles of this varietal are produced in the Champagne region of France.
Cristal is categorized as a Veblen good, meaning it is sought after by those who associate expensive things with status. Rap and hip hop artists have been quick to latch onto the prestige of the drink. Many music videos depict the artists drinking and singing about it.