Armand de Brignac Brut Gold - IntoWineTV Episode 105

Background: Armand de Brignac is produced by the award-winning Cattier family, who has owned and cultivated vineyards in the Montage de Reims Terroir in the French Champagne region since 1763. Patriarch Jean-Jacques Cattier oversees the production of Armand de Brignac. Only eight people (including Jean-Jacques Cattier and his son Alexandre) are involved in the creation of each bottle of Armand de Brignac. Armand de Brignac Brut Gold is pressed from a perfectly balanced blend of three distinct vintages of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier –the three grape varieties allowed in genuine Champagne.  All grapes are selected from Premier and Grand Cru-rated villages in the three historic terroirs of Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs. While many of Champagne’s producers are increasingly using larger, valve-driven presses, Armand de Brignac employs a traditional Champenois Coquart press which ensures a slow and high-quality yield from carefully hand-sorted grapes. Each bottle is made from the most exquisite fraction of these celebrated grapes. Only the first pressing of the harvest is used, classifying Armand as a Prestige cuveé. – A Prestige cuvée contains the richest wine from each harvest, enabling the Champagne to become more complex and delicate as it ages. The blend of wine is augmented with a liqueur de dosage, a liqueur made from a secret formula passed down through the family. The liqueur is created from fine cane sugar and a blend of the very best still wines from prior harvests.  The dosage is further enhanced by aging in oak barrels for 9 months to impart a touch of soul to the Champagne. The barrels come from Burgundy, once-used for Chardonnay. This step is especially important in maintaining the unique character of Armand de Brignac; no other wine in the world includes the same combination of meticulously- selected vintages from this private terroir. When master oenologues have achieved the perfect formula, the wine is bottled by one craftsman using a traditional semi-automatic tool. After Armand de Brignac has been bottled and sealed, the bottles are stored in a section of the Cattier cellar designated for its ideal conditions for aging the blend. Descending more than 119 steps (over 30 meters) underground, the cellars are considered among the deepest in Champagne. Bottles are corked and sealed only as quickly as our artisans can operate the bottling press. After the cork and metal museletare added, the black bottle capsule, stamped with the Armand de Brignac crest, is secured.  In the last stage of production, each of four pewter labels are applied to the bottle by hand and polished by an artisan, making each bottle of the Champagne unique and distinctive. The unmistakable, gold-plated bottle has its roots in the French fashion industry and its reputation for opulence.  Conceived by the celebrated André Courrèges fashion house, the paperless bottle features four pewter labels that are hand-applied to the surface of the bottle.  For retail, the bottle is packaged in a handsome black lacquered/wooden case, fitted with an engraved tin nameplate, lined in black velvet andembossed with the brand’s royal crest.

Jay Z Champagne Connection: Armand de Brignac Brut Gold is the champagne of choice of hip-hop superstar Jay Z, and the instantly recognizable bottle became a luxury status symbol in the rap community after the mogul featured it in his music videos "Show Me What You Got," "Blue Magic," and "Roc Boys."  Jay Z made the switch to Armand from Cristal, which was once appeared frequently in his music videos and lyrics, in the wake of a scandal surrounding a statement made by Roederer chief Frédéric Rouzaud in a profile in The Economist.  When asked about the effect that its hip-hop associations might have on the Cristal brand, Rouzaud told the magazine “We can't forbid people from buying it… I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”  This quote appeared in the Economist article under the heading “Unwelcome Attention,” and was received as racist by Jay Z and several other artists, who spoke out against the Cristal brand in the press, and took their business elsewhere.   Performers who have since featured Armand de Brignac Brut Gold in videos and lyrics include Fabolous, Beanie Siegel, and Jamie Foxx.

Experts:

Edward Ruiz, Wine Director at San Francisco's Incanto Restaurant

Cezar Kusik, Fine Wine Specialist, Fourcade & Hecht Wine Selections.

Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO of Broadbent Selections. Bartholomew was named as one of the "fifty most influential people in the wine world" by Decanter Magazine. He is also widely considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on Port and Madeira. Learn more about Bartholomew Broadbent.

Location: Incanto Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar, Situated in the heart of one of San Francisco's most charming residential neighborhoods, Incanto's rustic Italian setting, with its handcrafted stone, antique brick and woodwork, 16th century Latin parchments, and private dining room dedicated to poet Dante Alighieri, provides a uniquely warm and inviting dining environment.

Incanto's daily-changing menu honors old-world traditions including house-cured meats, unusual regional pastas, fresh local seafood and a commitment to sustainably grown and harvested produce. Incanto's award-winning wine program features one of the most diverse Italian wine lists in the United States and an ever-changing lineup of more than twenty wines by the glass, half-glass, half-liter, and flight.