Is It Worth Going Out Of Your Way To Drink The World’s Most Expensive Airline Champagne?

I was just writing a post about how I’m flying Korean Air A380 first class later this week in my quest to try all A380 first class products. I was writing about how one of the things I was most looking forward to about Korean Air first class is that they serve 1998 Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose, which I believe is the most expensive champagne served by any airline (someone correct me if I’m wrong).

Then I reviewed a Korean Air first class menu and realized that they only serve it on their routes from Seoul Incheon to New York and Paris. On their other routes to the US they serve Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle, the same “delicate” champagne that Stuart generously served me on my BA A380 flight from London to Los Angeles in December.

To put this into perspective slightly, here’s what I’d be drinking on Seoul Incheon to New York:

Korean-Air-Champagne-2

While here’s what I’d be drinking on Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles:

Korean-Air-Champagne-1

Multiply it by four bottles or so, and we’re talking quite a difference in “value” at retail. 😉

Perhaps the most first world question I’ll ever ask on this blog, but would you route the “long way” for better champagne? I can make the change, but need to do so by tonight. It would translate into a longer positioning flight home, but if it’s worth it it’s worth it. Not only is the 1998 Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose expensive, but it’s apparently quite tough to find as well.

Thoughts? 😀

Comments

  1. A top producer Rose champagne is always going to be a more exclusive wine (and in my opinion, better wine).

  2. Love reading your blog, Lucky, but it’s stories like this that make me feel like I’m completely out of your demographic.

  3. @ Blandon — It’s intended to be (at least mildly) tongue in cheek, for what it’s worth. The difference between the top first class products are ultimately really small touches, and hey, this is potentially one of them!

  4. I’d do it but only if after I got off the plane — there was a man in a black suit holding a small sign with my name on it.

  5. I would think this would be a no-brainer, since I would guess the longer positioning flight is a feature, not a bug. More EQMs!

  6. I’m quite sure you’re mostly being facetious, but no, I would never go out of my way for that.

    I like and respect wine and champagne, but my palate is not sophisticated enough to notice the differences between two bottles of that caliber.

    Now, the difference between a $5 bottle and a halfway decent bottle? That’s something even my classless taste buds can comprehend.

  7. If you go ahead with it, you’ll have to review the full range of offerings from all airlines. I’m pretty sure Spirit is serving Boone’s Farm Tickle Pink…for $15/bottle.

  8. Oh, I’m a total champagne snob. Go for the more expensive one! It’s not like you have to be somewhere for a meeting!

  9. @Lucky Ethan’s link seems to indicate all Korea to US and Europe flights will be serving “Belle Époque” in first. Wine searcher is pricing it at $85 at the Belmont Wine Exchange.

    Talk about a “devaluation”, from 1998 Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose, down to
    Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque. 🙁

  10. If you drink a Rose, go for it!!! It is considered more exclusive. BTW, I’ve found the routes including NY as the ones that offer more exclusive touches in terms of food and beverage on business and first class. It means, NY is a top and competitive route where all airlines try to offer their best to get a customer.

  11. I’d say go for it except Murphy’s law states it won’t be available that day and you’ll have made the extra effort for nothing.

  12. Last April, I routed my return from Asia via JFK to try the Champagne. There were 7 passengers in First and they loaded 1 bottle. Luckliy only 3 passengers were drinking so I got to try couple glasses. FA apologized for running out just as meal service was beginnig.

    I guess that’s better than not having any Champagne from NRT to ICN in First. I was told they had 2 wines on board, a white and a red. White turned out to be a sweet plum wine.

    KAL First is a decent product but wine service was subpar.

  13. Other wines are better on the New York/Paris routes, as well, not just the champagne. If memory serves when I flew ICN-IAD, had I been flying to JFK I could have had a very nice sauternes to accompany my dessert…

  14. do it, looking forward to your pic & review. longer route should not be an issue unless your pressed for time/schedule.

  15. You may finally have lost your mind – and I didn’t comment at all about Hello Kitty, but yes, of course, make the switch.

  16. I know this post was tongue in cheek at least partially, but I really would love to read a post on what champagnes I should order in premium cabins. I have absolutely no idea whether 2002 Dom is better than 2003 and how Dom differs from Krug, or whatever. Anyone know a good website with guidance?

  17. Under no circumstances would I do this. As Michael T pointed out, expensive does not equal better. This is especially true with wine. Wine Spectator (the best ranking magazine out there)rated this champagne a 93. While that is pretty good, that is not mind blowing. For example, I would not spend any more than $50 for a 93 rated wine. In fact you can usually find them for $30 a bottle or less. Anyone who would spend $350 on this doesn’t know much about wine. Do yourself a favor and go to a wine bar with the time you saved, and drink something good.

    Furthermore you lose 20-30% of your taste in the air. You wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy this.

  18. Sounds like you are getting bored with your “routine” of first class air travel. Your time, your miles, your cash, your choice. I do question whether you run the risk of becoming more of a novelty entertainment blog if you do too much of this sort of thing. It is fun to read about your adventures, but most of us don’t have the luxury of selecting our flights based on the champagne served. With the big United devaluation, there will be fewer who even use miles to travel in first class – so I suspect that its not the kind of info that’s all that useful to most of your readers. (But I agree it would be a fun read.)
    Again, your choice.

  19. What a great country we live in!
    Half of the world population (3 billion) live on less then $2.50/day.
    If you change your flights lets donate the difference in price between the two bottles to our local food banks. I also live in Washington state Easter side and will match your donation to our local food bank here.
    Deal??

  20. You’re really running out of stuff to talk about, aren’t you? What’s next, an in-depth review of the linen napkins and which thread count best serves your delicate complexion?

  21. For most mortal men, I would answer “no”. But in your case, “yes” because of the value you’ll get out of it as a reviewer with your blog

  22. Expensive =! better. Out of Krug, Dom and LPGS that I was served on NH, SQ and LH, I liked the LPGS the most. Maybe I’m not in the same world, but I’d prefer to take the direct flight and drink a $5 bottle (provided everything else is the same)

  23. I read a couple of you bloggers, mainly to get idea’s and help with this hobby. Now I’m not too sure what you for your main source of income, if you have time to fly the new York flight then do it, so it can be another notch on your belt. But I think for most of us working stiff who can’t get away like you and who are stuck traveling domestic flights on a weekly basis I could care less what kind of Champaign is being served for me, I’m more interested in, a comfortable lounge, How are the seats in FC, and how fast can I get through customs. The meal is secondary as we all know that food is a hit or miss…

    I read all the travel report on Milepost and FT and hear people rant and rave about one airline over another, people complain like they actually PAID for those tickets… Most are well written, and most people take the attitude too seriously…

  24. I’m usually fine with something really basic like Piper-Heidsieck. I have a bottle of Dom Perignon and a bottle of Krug for special occasions but it’s not something I drink regularly. I draw the line of reason at the $150 mark so beyond that I really don’t care because I won’t be buying it. Everyone has their own idea of what makes a great champagne, but can we at least agree that Veuve Clicquot is absolutely terrible?

  25. Most champagne houses buy 85% of their grapes from multiple villages and blend these grapes across multiple vintages to produce a consistent taste.

    What you are seeking is actually terroir specific champagne. This is best done from grower champagne houses i.e. those who grow their own grapes. Grower champagne houses have a RM on their bottles while those who buy their grapes will have an NM inscribed on the bottle the bottle.

    To get the terroir specific champagne you are also looking for single village champagne. And if you are looking for the very best then you are looking for a Grand Cru, Single village, grower champagne. A Grand Cru single village could be Clos De Goisses or Aine etc…

    While you may debate the quality of a Dom Perignon vs a Laurent Perrier or Jouet, that misses the point of champagne entirely! Its roughly like deciding which carrier’s F service to try based on the fast food served in the food court in the home airport.

    Unfortunately, just as in travel there is much to learn about champagne and I would encourage you to try the grower champagnes which will be much better and cheaper than the “famous names” you keep hearing about. To continue with my analogy everyone has heard about McDonalds but I am sure we can all agree it would be better to dine where Gary is dining. Cheers!

  26. I would prefer to buy a bottle myself and have it at home with family and friends. That’s more enjoyable that sitting in an A380 for four more hours and a x-country trip to position a flight.

  27. My last experience on OZ first class was pre-opened champagne (flat). Many bottles are also wasted by not chilling them properly.

  28. @eggss4 a simple rule is to avoid 2003 vintage of any wine from france including champagne. The heatwave killed all the grapes and consequently the wine.

  29. If you can change with no cost, then do so. But like Marcus above, there is so much more to Champagne, than the cost. Take a trip to Champagne, hire a driver, and go tasting! It will be so much more fun then what specific prestige cuvee that a certain airline serves in 1st Class.

  30. Seems the article was really just a lead-in to Lucky’s KA A380 trip. No reactions to the 3 comments pointing to Salon and his “most expensive airline champagne” claim.

  31. @Lucky– I think they’re still serving route-based selections. I’m flying SFO-ICN-MLE in F this week, so I can report back.

    @Marcus– Clearly, you don’t enjoy Bordeaux

  32. lol Every time I think you’ve topped yourself in “First World Problems” articles…I think this one must rank at the top of the list 😉

  33. Maybe it’s coz I don’t drink alcohol, and it’s very Schadenfreude of me… but I would love if you changed the flight and hiked over to New York, got on the flight only for the flight attendant to say “Sorry, unfortunately we don’t have that onboard today Sir.” LOL!!

  34. You may drink a lot of champagne based on your numerous first class flights, but do you actually drink champagne off the planes. Considering you’re judging champagnes based on price, I seriously doubt you really know anything about champagne.

  35. four bottles? you’re going to get a headache
    but maybe a $1300 headache doesn’t hurt as much as a $600 headache

  36. To expand a little on what marcus and others have said…price has very little to do with how good champagne can be. If you judge Champagne by its price only you are officially clueless.

    If you want to try some amazing Blanc de Blanc Champagnes that don’t cost a fortune, why not try Launois Champagnes? They are from Grand Cru vineyards in Le Mesnil (same as Salon) and have cult status in France, in part because the French (unlike us Americans) have zero desire to massively overpay for Champagne. Alternatively, Pierre Peters and Pierre Moncuit make outstanding grand Cru BdB champagnes.

    Or if that doesn’t float your boat, how about some Lallement, which typically compares favorably to Krug due to the Pinot Noir content and the intense toasted hazelnut notes?

    Or if you want rose, why not give Marguet, Arnould, or Billecart Salmon a shot? All of these are way less expensive than the LP Alexandra.

    But I suspect that for you, the fun is not in drinking the wine, but in bragging how much it costs, right?

  37. ummm–no. Get a job–or switch to writing for one of the airline “in seat” rags which is where your heading—alert–alert–(dream job)..lol

  38. Lucky,
    Here is your To-Do-List for 2014/15:
    With top-end travel an increasingly competitive business, airlines around the world spend millions of dollars each year polishing their wine lists in the hope of attracting more passengers. Their efforts are noted at the annual Cellars in the Sky awards, organized by U.K.-based Business Traveller magazine.

    At this year’s awards ceremony, Qantas once again topped the medal table, winning Best Overall Wine Cellar, Best First Class Cellar, and Best Business Class Cellar. In addition, the airline – nicknamed “The Flying Kangaroo” – was judged to serve the best sparkling and white wines in first class.

    Two airlines won double awards: Emirates snatched the gold medals for best red wine in first class and best fortified/dessert wine in business class, while Taiwan-based Eva Air was honored for having the best business class white and sparkling wines.

    The full list of winners is as follows:

    Best Overall Wine Cellar

    1. Qantas

    2. Emirates

    3. (JOINT) El-Al, Cathay Pacific

    FIRST CLASS

    Best First Class Red

    1. Emirates – 2005 Clarendon Hills Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia

    2. British Airways – 2007 Napanook, Napa Valley, California

    3. Emirates – 2000 Château Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France

    Best First Class White

    1. Qantas – 2009 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia

    2. TAM Airlines – 2009 Dr Bürklin-Wolf Pechstein Grand Cru, Pfalz, Germany

    3. (JOINT) El-Al – 2012 Yarden Viognier, Galilee, Golan Heights, Israel; Malaysia Airlines – 2011 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany

    Best First Class Sparkling

    1. Qantas – 2000 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, France

    2. (JOINT) Korean Air – 1998 Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rosé, Champagne, France; Singapore Airlines – 2004 Dom Pérignon, Champagne, France

    3. American Airlines – Gosset Grande Réserve NV, Champagne, France

    Best First Class Fortified/Dessert

    1. El-Al – 2011 Yarden Heights Gewurztraminer Late Harvest, Golan Heights, Galilee, Israel

    2. Qantas – Seppeltsfield Paramount Rare Tokay NV, Australia

    3. (JOINT) All Nippon Airways – W.& J. Graham’s 30 Year-Old Tawny Port, Portugal; TAM Airlines – 2005 Croft Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal

    Best First Class Cellar

    1. Qantas

    2. All Nippon Airways

    3. British Airways

    Best-Presented First Class Wine List

    1. Qatar Airways

    2. Qantas

    3. Singapore Airlines

    BUSINESS CLASS

    Best Business Class Red

    1. Cathay Pacific – 2008 Murray Street White Label Barossa Shiraz, Australia

    2. Qantas – 2011 Best’s Great Western Bin One Shiraz, Victoria, Australia

    3. (JOINT) Etihad Airways – 2010 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz, Clare Valley, Australia; Finnair – 2012 Atteca Vieilles Vignes, Calatayud, Spain

    Best Business Class White

    1. Eva Air – 2010 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes, Burgundy, France

    2. Cathay Pacific – 2009 Taylors Chardonnay, Clare Valley, Australia

    3. Air Canada – 2013 Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

    Best Business Class Sparkling

    1. Eva Air – 2004 Dom Pérignon, Champagne, France

    2. (JOINT) All Nippon Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines – NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, Champagne, France; Emirates – 2004 Veuve Clicquot, Champagne, France

    3. American Airlines – 2008 Moutard, Champagne, France

    Best Business Class Fortified/Dessert

    1. Emirates – Graham’s 20 Year-Old Tawny Port, Portugal

    2. Qantas – 2008 Lillypilly Noble Blend Family Reserve, New South Wales, Australia

    3. Austrian Airlines – 2010 Kracher Cuvée Beerenauslese, Neusiedlersee, Austria

    Best Business Class Cellar

    1. Qantas

    2. Etihad Airways

    3. Cathay Pacific

    Best-Presented Business Class Wine List

    1. Air New Zealand

    2. Qatar Airways

    3. Finnair

    Best Airline Alliance For Wine

    Oneworld

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