Friday, 28 November 2014

Large Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bottles in John Lewis Food Hall

I was in John Lewis in Oxford Street the other day, where they have a John Lewis Food Hall (not a Waitrose, as is more usual) in the basement.  They have a pretty good wine department there but what really intrigued me was these three big bottles of Veuve Clicquot.  When I was younger I had one of those big book of facts type books which contained things like paper sizes and, apposite to this post, large Champagne bottle names.  

Now of course I am familiar with and have had magnums and jeroboams but I think this is the first time I have actually seen some of the "Biblical" large sized bottles before.  They had a Methuselah (eight bottles) for £575, a Salmanazar (12 bottles for £750  and a Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles for £1400).  Now, of course, the equivalent price per bottle (£70 for the Nebuchadnezzar which is nearly double what Waitrose charge for a single bottle) certainly doesn't provide a bulk discount; in fact you pay far more for the privilege of having such a conversation piece.

Certainly, if I was going to drop £1400 on a bottle of Champagne I wouldn't buy one which had been stored in a hot store, upright and under bright lights.  I stopped drinking Veuve Clicquot because there was a period, a few years ago, when they were selling it with insufficient cellaring time.  I gather it is better now, so maybe I should get one for Christmas.  Not one this big, though.  How would you chill it?  You'd have to put it in a bath full of ice, I suppose, or a dustbin.  Not very elegant ,though.  I suppose if you have seven of them there would be enough to give a lady a bath in it.  


  1. Hello Legatus,
    The idea with bigger bottles is that they age more slowly (it's to do with the amount of air in the bottle v volume of liquid) - and of course there is the "wow" factor. Size matters - even when talking about champagne. The ideal bottle size is supposedly the magnum - although I've never had any problems drinking champagne from whatever bottle size was ordered. Most of these are sold for celebrations rather than bathing young ladies (as far as I'm aware) and are chilled pretty much as you suggest. What you didn't consider in your post was how you pour them (the Nebuchadnezzar weighs about 15kg just for the liquid - the glass must be another couple of kilos on top so about 37ibs in Imperial speak) - try tucking a Neb under your arm and gracefully pouring one of the 100-120 glasses that you can get out of one of these bad boys. Some places have little cranes on wheels for pouring them. As for pricing - the rationale is that these things are generally made to order (my company keeps a few on hand but there is about a three month lead time generally) and the production runs on the bottles are rather smaller than for bottles or magnums. Also they usually come in wooden gift boxes (known as "pet coffins" in the trade) which bumps up the costs rather.

    As for your comments re Veuve, I've never really favoured it. For me it has to be either Bollinger or Pol Roger as my two favourite houses.

  2. I hadn't thought about the ageing thing but that makes sense. Yes, pouring it would be a huge problem. I like the sound of the crane! I did indeed once witness a young lady have a Champagne bath (fortunately I didn't pay for it). 10 cases it took!

  3. Hello,
    Here you go:

    And here is a publicity stunt bottle:


  4. That Vcanter thing is ridiculous! My father used to serve Veuve Cliquot at Christmas, but after about 6 years in a row he tired of it (this was about 10 years ago) and we know tend to drink whatever champagne's to hand. The Firm usually hands out bottles of Pol Roger as Christmas "thank you for your hard work" presents - lucky us...