Friday, September 21, 2007
Gourmet food and fine wine
I'm not much of a drinker. I'll have the occasional glass of wine or a bit of vodka once in a long while but that's about it. I guess I never acquired a real thirst for it. Plus, I think I got all that out of my system when I was younger. So you'll imagine my confusion yet curiosity over why some drinks are so expensive, and even considered collectible.

On Art of Life, I've been fortunate to try what some – including myself - would consider expensive drinks. I found vintage Dom Perignon very smooth and just slightly sweet while Cristal was quite dry. At the House of Krug I found I enjoyed the Krug Clos Du Mesnil 1996 over their signature Grande Cuvee. With vodka, it was fascinating to see Ciroc make theirs with grapes and with cognac. Remy Martin's Louis XIII should never be poured into a short, wide brandy glass. Instead, a sommelier's glass is ideal to experience the entire aroma and flavor.

Forbes reported the most expensive champagne that can be bought off the shelf is Krug's Clos Du Mesnil 1995. It goes for at least $750 a bottle. Only 12,624 bottles were produced adding to the rarity and the price. Still, it is far cheaper than Louis Roederer Cristal 1990, a bottle of which sold at a London auction for $14, 730.

In the world of cognac, Remy Cointreau's Black Pearl will set you back about $10,000. Only 786 bottles were produced and each carafe is hand blown from special smoked glass by Baccarat. The Remy Martin Louis XIII is a mere $1400 a bottle.

So, why are they so expensive? Are they really worth it?

Remy Martin cellarmaster Vincent Gere told me that for him luxury is defined as rarity. He will never be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, as the Remy Martin Louis XIII takes a century to make. It is aged in oak barrels and 100 years later the cognac is enjoyed by connoisseurs who will be able to taste the woodiness of the barrels and the subtle flavors of honey and plum. It's smooth because of the age and it's that dedication to perfecting the subtleties of flavors that adds to the richness of the drink. Those who do drink brandies and cognacs regularly will probably know the difference and the value of the various brands. But if something takes that long to make, there must be something special about it.

History and tradition also play a part in value. The House of Krug began six generations ago and to this day the grapes are still handpicked and a member of the Krug family is still in charge of making sure every bottle of their Grande Cuvee tastes consistent. Their craft is using the best that technology has to offer but only to enhance what tradition has taught them. In a time when we're always on the hunt for what's new, tradition is a rare commodity - and that also determines price. After all, if a business has lasted six generations, they must be doing something right. Right?

I have a friend who is an ardent wine collector for the simple reason that he enjoys drinking wine. If he finds a particular vineyard that produces a flavor he really enjoys he will buy a case. That's all it comes down to. If you enjoy something and can afford it why shouldn't you treat yourself? The more I work on Art of Life, the more I am learning about the finer things in life. I see the work that goes into making clothing, cars, cognacs, and champagnes.

Most of the time I do see the difference between those things that are made well and those that are cheaper. That said, I won't go about paying $200 for a t-shirt simply because it has a designer label, nor will I go about buying a $1000 bottle of champagne because it's what the rap stars are doing. If I see true value in something and I enjoy it then I will pay for it. Not to keep up some superficial image, but simply because I will enjoy it. After all, being able to enjoy your life the way you want is a luxury in itself, isn't it?
Posted By Monita: Friday, September 21, 2007
The bottle of 1990 Cristal you mention was actually a Methuselah (6 Liters, equivalent to 8 regular bottles) made for the Millennium celebrations, so it's a bit misleading to compare it to the retail price of a regular 750ml bottle of Krug Clos du Mesnil. Clos Du Mesnil remains the most expensive Champagne at retail, with the 1996 vintage you tasted being sold for around $1k.
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 10:34 PM, September 22, 2007
We just watched your Art of Life champagne/truffle/chocolate programme this morning (here in Denmark). Thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the insights into the production at the vineyards and the chocolate company.

Maybe not the best idea to watch it whilst having our breakfast, but thanks all the same for a very interesting programme.
Posted By Blogger Steve : 12:06 PM, September 23, 2007
command to the last show of my personal own:

i´t was funny to watch. i have to say i´m no drinker of anyone for sure.
in your last words i agree to 1000 percent that i give my money for a labeld t-shirt as for an cheap or more expensive bottle of alcohol because for me it taste like when you drink someting that maybe one could sleep well.

no matter how much that is..., but to collect it for guests seems quiet comftible to me.

collecting, waiting and selling at the auction, right! of course this is what it´s for. i have only one bottle of old scotish wiskey, very old. took a nip, taste marvelous and i´ll keep it for older day´s, maybe.

one statement to vodka...
i don´t find this very tasty, it´s burning ones stomack, agree?
but the history of the wodka overall is very interesting to me, why not? and collecting too! yes of course! doesn´t get old and damaged and it is good for guests that whant to have an apèritv before dinner, you know?

but i don´t want to borrow you with this very interesting things!

once agian your last show was great, i loved it!

wish you a great day,
by for now
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 7:38 PM, September 23, 2007

seems to be a cold day today!
overall i tought about your last show agian and was reconiziging of some Little, really forgettable doings...

how about your wardrobe? it´s all black and white, no colors, is that your favorite outlook of your personal taste, autsch......
or is it something that you have to do because don´t getting a cold?
you wrote bloc last, i read:

Forbes reported the most expensive champagne that can be bought off the shelf is Krug's Clos Du Mesnil 1995. It goes for at least $750 a bottle. Only 12,624 bottles were produced adding to the rarity and the price. Still, it is far cheaper than Louis Roederer Cristal 1990, a bottle of which sold at a London auction for $14, 730.

how could that be that only 12.624 bottles of Krugs Clos Dù Mesnil of 1995 were produced. is it just from 1995 till 2007, asking me?
Or could it be 13.624 on that report?

very important, isn´t it?
matter of fact for all whose reading and what´s to know yours bloc.

ok, stay cool,
by for now!
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 7:38 AM, September 24, 2007
"being able to enjoy your life the way you want is a luxury in itself"...
Definitely....certainly...maybe that's what art of life live for ones values..where one can see a true values in something..whether it be a wine or a Lotus Flower in the pond.

I totally agree with you.

..."The more I work on Art of Life, the more I am learning about the finer things in life."...
and the more u re learning finer things in life and then writing re we having this opportunity to learn some enriching ideas from you...ideas that makes life really enjoyable!
Posted By Anonymous Chetan Acharya : 12:29 AM, September 26, 2007
There's no point in spending a ridiculous amount of money on something if you're not planning on enjoying it. I used to house sit for a gentleman who was a wine collector and literally spent millions of dollars on wine. He stored them all in his cellar, and would rarely take a bottle out. He passed away very suddenly without ever having the chance to enjoy everything he had purchased. Very sad.
Posted By Anonymous Catherinette Singleton : 4:30 PM, October 02, 2007
I newly got introduced to wine drinking and just bought a corkscrew for my solo rendezvous.I appreciate fine wine but doubt if i would ever be able to appreciate the pricey tags attached.
Posted By Anonymous JydaGirl,Lagos,Nigeria : 10:13 AM, October 03, 2007
hi Monita,

You are one lucky person. I watched your show on fine wines, the cognac experience, the hunt for truffles, the chocolate, estee lauder products and all i can think of at this point is, the goodness of indulgence. Kudos to all the good stuff you bring to us on our tv sets. I have a weakness for assorted chocolates and all the good quality skin care products feel amazing. Watching it on television makes the indulgence even more worthwhile.

Kavita, Goa, India
Posted By Blogger kavita : 3:12 PM, October 03, 2007
This is the show that took Diplomatic License's place. Another great platform for advertisers and light entertainment for the rich. Cable "NEWS" Network?
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 10:53 AM, October 05, 2007
Hi, Monita
My name is Cciza Williams, I'm a big fan of your show, im from Dar es salaam, Tanzania thats East Africa. And i must say you really know how to put your show together must be enjoying it. I'm a drinker though not that much so this article of the Remy Martin Louis XIII, crystals etc kinda got me interested though I may never have them(price che haha) but it's good to know something bout it. One suggestion Why don't you do one show in Africa particulary in Tanzania for a change i mean really there is so much down here trust me.
Lastly you can check me out on Facebook the name "Cciza Williams"
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 8:57 AM, October 10, 2007
Hi Monita,
My mouth watered at the sight of Valrhona chocolates on your show. I also liked the segment on truffles. I didn't know that it's so difficult to cultivate this kind of mushroom and it's such a rare commodity to get. guys get a wonderful opportunity to see what goes into these finer things in life, isn't it? I used to wonder why people make a big fuss about tasting and drinking wine since I drink occasionally.....but after watching this month's Art of Life, my whole perception has changed. I'm sure, whenever I drink wine, I'm sure to appreciate every sip of it. Job well done!!
Posted By Anonymous SriVidya K, Toronto, Canada : 11:11 PM, October 19, 2007
I really enjoyed your "Gourmet food and fine wine" that I find reconciling. Living in Sudan, a country where luxury can simply signify “being able to satisfy your basic needs” and where, in addition to this, alcohol is forbidden, it is very difficult to imagine what a "Louis Roederer Cristal 1990" taste is. Anyhow, I consider my three-week old homemade wine as a real luxury and do not share it but with the best of my best friends.
Posted By Blogger El Muiz : 4:09 PM, December 10, 2007
CNN anchor Monita Rajpal blogs about her experiences filming the "Art of Life" show.

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