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Back in early summer, the managing director of Cristal champagne expressed his disdain for his brand's iconic status amongst hip-hop stars. This prompted rapster Jay-Z to boycott Cristal in his lyrics, clubs, and bloodstream. Unfortunately, this left a gaping void in the alcoholic blingosphere, which Jay-Z has attempted to fill in his most recent video — he rejects a bottle of Cristal in favor of Armand de Brignac, a heretofore unheard-of niche brand of luxury champagne. Most news outlets dutifully passed on the press release, noting how Armand de Brignac has been produced for "centuries" and is only now being imported stateside after enjoying success in France. Charming story; too bad it's all bullshit.

The Armand de Brignac PR materials hastily claim this isn't a case of product placement, nor is there any commercial relationship between Armand de Brignac and Jay-Z. He just really likes those gold bottles, see? So, how come no one has ever heard of Armand de Brignac? Like, anywhere? HipHopGame dispatched their senior vintage correspondent to get the goods on Armand de Brignac, and it turns out the whole thing's a sham. In fact, Armand de Brignac is a new stealth brand created by Cattier Champagne, to all appearances exclusively for its cameo in the Jay-Z video (and likely subsequent appearances and distribution in his clubs, etc.). Perhaps the best part: The Cattier bottle and vintage ("Antique Gold") that likely matches the relabeled "Armand de Brignac" sells for around $60 tops. "Armand de Brignac" reputedly goes for $300. Let's hope Jay-Z's seeing at least some of that scratch.

An investigative look at 'the new Cristal' [HipHopGame via Agenda Inc.]