I read today on the decanter.com Newsletter that Dom Perignon opened a bar in the famous Harrods store in London and offers a glass of 1975 Oenetheque vintage of Dom Perignon for £250. If you have some financial problems, you can settle for the 1995 Vintage of Oenotheque for the mere sum of £60. If you are lucky, you might meet Claudia Schiffer at the bar since she was the advertising icon of the Karl Lagerfeld video on Oenotheque Champagne.
We all know that Champagne aimed at making its wines a luxury product. Question for luxury buffs: do you sell a luxury wine by the glass? Do you need “people” to make it great or expensive? NO! Why sell a very expensive and luxurious champagne by the glass? It is the same strategy as all those branded cheap Dior products for 50 or 100 € you see all over. Does it blur the image of the brand? YES! A luxury brand exists only through the phenomenon of scarcity: a glass is not as scarce as a bottle. Would you sell a bottle of perfume by small bottles?
Why is it bothering me so much to see a wonderful champagne sold its image to the crowd? Because I see everyday in the wine business how luxury wines protect and develop their fragile image without compromising it. Think Château Haut-Brion, think Château Palmer: all those brands create a very emotional and affective link between them and their consumers without selling a glass of their precious nectar in a department store, as elegant as it could be. Wine is not a coffee shop or department store product. Before being a commercial endeavor, wine is about taste, pleasure, people and places. It is about tradition, emotion, history –past and present. Indeed the contemporary brands might become the wines of our children and grandchildren. They will tell the next generations what our life was about.