Champagne is inherently an iconic drink. It symbolises celebration, wealth and luxury. From the bottle, to the Champagne bucket, to the pop and the fizz. Even the word itself is iconic: Forgetting about quality and focussing solely on image, Champagne labels will always have a little bit more of a “wow” factor than a Cava, Prosecco and other sparkling wine. The rich and famous have enjoyed Champagne for centuries, and it has become a cultural status symbol.
With that being said, not all Champagne labels are created equally: The artwork and craftsmanship of the most iconic Champagne labels are by no means a prerequisite. Many winemakers focus solely on the sparkling liquid within the bottle and really don’t care about branding or label design. There are indeed some beautiful bubbles being produced at the highest level that have very generic – if not outright ugly – label designs. This is not our focus today, though. Instead we are going to celebrate art and design in wine, and discover some of the world’s most iconic Champagne labels.
Perhaps the most iconic of all Champagne labels is that of Dom Pérignon. The brand name itself is often used as a byword for high-end, prestige Champagne, and this eye-catching label design is instantly recognised by wine lovers throughout the world, real and fictional: It was a favourite of both James Bond and Dr. Frasier Crane. The subtly curved, dark bottle is iconic in its own right, and the olive-green label shaped like a coat of arms in virtually unforgettable.
Dom Pérignon 2006 is a classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and boasts an enviable score of 95 points from Wine Spectator. A bottle of Dom Pérignon makes an instant visual statement, and for special occasions it is difficult to think of a more suitable bubbly. For something above and beyond even this indulgence, consider one of the cellar master’s legendary “Oenothèque” releases, such as Dom Pérignon Rosé Oenothèque 1992.
From top producer Louis Roederer, Cristal stands out as one of the world’s most sought-after Champagne labels. Cristal has superb brand name recognition and has had some controversial publicity in the past, such as with the rapper Jay-Z. Nonetheless, it is still a staple of the world’s top nightclubs and its label is beautifully decadent: bright, bold and with lots of gold.
Louis Roederer Cristal 2000 is a superb vintage of this prestige cuvée blend, and will be equally at home in a nightclub V.I.P. area as it will on the table of a top restaurant for a couple’s anniversary dinner. Those that want a taste of the Louis Roederer house style and some of the associated glory, without the hefty price tag, might consider a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier, a non-vintage Champagne boasting a 90-point score from Robert Parker.
Another jewel in the crown of luxury giant LVMH, Krug Champagne boasts fantastic brand recognition thanks to its inherent stylishness. Its Champagne labels are designed in a timeless and quite minimal style, with an elegant and sleek bottle adorned with high quality, glossy foil. The Krug brand name and emblem take pride of place on what is a deceptively simple design.
From taking a cursory look at the gift box and the brilliant gold and red label for non-vintage Krug Grande Cuvée, it is clear that style and design are serious considerations for this house. Take a sip, however, and it becomes clear that this is only part of the equation: Great care is taken behind the scenes to ensure the highest level of quality and expression of the house style – this is a powerful Champagne with great structure in the mouth and tingling acidity.