IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says one of France’s most expensive Champagnes was created not for some wealthy French plutocrat, but for a Russian Tsar.
And it’s still bottled to this day in a bottle designed at his behest, and a methuselah of the stuff – the equivalent of 8 normal bottles – that was made in 1990 has just sold at auction in London for the equivalent of AU$8,350.
The colourful history of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne goes back to 1876 when Tsar Alexander II ordered winemakers at the French company to make a bubbly to his exact taste requirements, and then insisted it be bottled in clear glass rather than the traditional green of Champagne bottles – so he could see that it contained no discolouring poison.
And he designed the bottle with a flat bottom rather than with the usual ‘punt,’ the large indentation in the base of Champagne bottles, so no-one could hide something equally lethal like explosives down there in the ‘punt.’
The reasons behind all this were Alexander’s paranoia about assassination.
And today Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne has become one of the world’s most expensive bubblies – the AU$8,350 paid at Bonham’s Auctions in London attesting to that.
And as for Alexander… as he feared, he did indeed fall victim to assassination, but it was by bomb not by poisoning, in March of 1881.