As you’re probably aware, Cristal was probably one of the first, if not the first prestige cuvée – a wine so fine only crème de la crème may drink it. It was the favourite wine of the Russian Tsars ever since Alexander II first tasted it at the Three Emperor’s Dinner in 1876, and was for a long time solely produced for the Russian royalty. In fact, it was not until 1945 that the wine became available commercially. Talk about prestigious! Cristal champagne price in those early days pretty much varied as it does today, depending on a variety of factors.
We’ll organise this piece as a Q & A session, where we try to anticipate any questions you might have (and some you don’t) and answer them in as much detail as possible. This way there should be no confusion as to why your neighbour practically stole a magnum for his daughter’s sweet sixteen, but you can’t find anything reasonably priced for your anniversary.
All jokes aside, you can get a Magnum bottle of Cristal Brut for around £140 to £160, though if you’re looking at an exceptional vintage, limited edition or a unique old bottle, the price may soar.
Of course, the difference can also be cause by several more prosaic factors that you can probably guess yourself. So, ask away!
Does Age Affect The Price of Cristal?
Yes, very much so, but there are some… let’s call them footnotes. Cristal champagne price is determined first and foremost by the volume, which is small wander. You can always fully expect that a Methuselah (6L) cost about three times the price of a Jeroboam (3L).
On that same note, you’d be hard pressed to find two bottles of any size to cost the same, unless they’re the same age.
And, as you’d expect, the 2006 was more expensive, but the 2005 was somewhat cheaper. Why? Well, painting with a broad brush, we can sign it off to distinct ingredients, different quantities, exceptionally good year for the 2006 vintage, and so on. In other words, Cristal champagne price will most likely climb progressively with the age, though there are minor fluctuations, depending on the vintage.
Speaking of vintages, you should keep in mind that a vintage champagne is, as a rule, more expensive than a non-vintage one, and Cristal is no exception. For those of you not in the know, “vintage” does not mean a particular bottle is old. The difference is rather explained by the word itself – sometimes, winemakers will use up a whole one year’s harvest for making wine. This is usually when the harvest excels in quality, and so the wine excels.
More often, however, they’ll save up to a third of each year and mix it with the next year’s harvest, or use three years’ worth of grape. And sometimes, if a harvest is of low quality, some manufacturers will make a vintage, and yet market it as non-vintage to keep the reputation.
Is There a Difference between the Varieties?
You might’ve noticed that the Cristal champagne price varies from variety to variety, eve when it’s the same age. The reason is obvious – different ingredients and process.
If it were made traditionally, by the method known as saignée, whereby the juice is bled off after a brief contact with the skin, the difference in pricing might be even greater.
How Does Cristal Champagne Price Compare to Other Brands?
Cristal champagne price is oftentimes extremely prohibitive to most people. Sure, it’s a great gift for a special occasion, but more often than not it is the privilege of the rich. Buying and drinking it shows affluence, so it would be remiss of us to talk about the heavyweights and not talk in superlatives. So, when we compare Cristal to other major brands, we’ll mention a few specific examples to illustrate the wider picture.
In 2005, a Methuselah of 1990 Cristal Brut was sold at an auction at Soteby’s for just shy of $18,000, while in the same year, a limited edition of Dom Perignon Jeroboam sold for $40,000. Obviously, the price was inflated by the fact it’s a limited edition.
Similarly, a whole case of Pernod-Ricard Perrier-Jouet (12 bottles) runs by $50,000, and that’s not counting the expenses clients have to pay when having to personally pick up their case (not literally obviously, but still).
To round off this exercise in ostentation, we’ll just mention that around 200 shipwrecked bottles of Heidseck go for $275,000 apiece at Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton (the famous 1998 Åland find).
Compare all of the three exceptional cases we just mentioned to the regular, somewhat old Cristal Brut (although how much the word “regular” really applies here is up for debate), and draw your own conclusions.
Cristal champagne price varies from seller to seller, and there are ways to get it cheaper if you know how. Mind you, it won’t be cheap, but it will be cheap-er.
Wine auction sites, the likes of Soteby’s or Wine Bid are good to keep track of what’s new, but if you want to find bargains across the globe (and we use the word “bargain” with much reserve), check out Wine Searcher, or just get it from Amazon (multiple suppliers in competition- you’re bound to get a great deal). There’s bound to be at least one uncorked bottle of Cristal going cheaply around Valentine’s.
Short of that, you can try buying in bulk. It will cost you more at a go, but you can always auction off what you don’t drink and get some of your money back. If neither of these appeals to you, then you have no choice but to turn to sparkling wines that are not champagne – they won’t be Cristal, but they’ll be budget-friendly.
What Does a Bottle Of Cristal Run By in Different Countries?
Because it’s exported from France, a bottle of Cristal will fluctuate with the Euro. As currencies adjust, so will the price. Moreover, as there’s also the shipping to account for, countries farther from France may have to pay a little extra.
For example, in the UK, Cristal champagne price for a standard 0.75L bottle will be anywhere from £100 to twice that, depending on the age, variety and bottle itself (whether it’s a limited edition or not). Simultaneously, in the US, the same bottle can cost anywhere from £120 to, you guessed it, twice that (of course, the price is adjusted in dollars for their market).
Again, this is because Cristal champagne price is closely tied not only to the currency, but also the fact that any champagne is exclusively made in Champagne, and if you want the original, you have to pay for the transport.
And, of course, you always have to account for the differences between sellers – some will buy larger quantities and, consequently, offer more approachable prices, while others will go smaller. Some might focus on great vintages (such as 2006 and 2009, widely agreed to be the best recent vintages) and limited-edition bottles, while others will just hunt for the label, irrespective of the age.
Whichever way you yourself go about it, keep in mind that Cristal champagne price reflects its place in the world and that it is a message, a status symbol in and of itself – one of abundance, affluence and aristocracy.