Champagne is a classic drink for celebrations like birthdays, weddings, and graduations. It is an alcoholic and carbonated beverage that is recognizable by the thin line of bubbles and the slightly bitter taste.
The history behind champagne is an interesting one with the production process an elaborate and time-consuming one.
Two of the best champagnes that come up in discussion are Ace Of Spades vs Cristal, which we will be comparing in this article.
We will look at the history of both brands, how they are made, and their similarities. Hopefully, this article will help you select which brand to go with for your next celebration.
Ace of Spades vs Cristal
Ace of Spades is the colloquial version of the brand name Armand de Brignac. Established in 2006, the brand is owned by the Cattier family which has owned and cultivated vineyards since 1873.
The production of the champagne is now overseen by Jean-Jacque Cattier who is the patriarch of the family.
Cristal Champagne is the flagship brand of Louis Roederer. The brand was established in 1876 to create a wine for Tsar Alexander II. This wine was made in a flat-bottomed and clear bottle which led to the company creating the crystal range due to the lead-crystal bottles.
The brand ages their champagne for 6 years in Louis Roederer’s cellars and spends another 8 months in the cellars after dégorgement.
How Are They Made?
Champagne is made via an extensive process that begins by harvesting the correct grapes. The harvest is done between August and October depending on the ripeness of the grapes. These grapes are then carefully pressed to keep the resulting juice a clear white.
The juice is then put in a tank and fermented into an acidic wine. After that, the white wines are blended with reserve wines to create a base for the champagne. Depending on the brand, they will use different amounts of each reserve to create the final product.
A mixture of yeast, sugar, and year nutrients is added to the blend for the second fermentation. During this step, the carbon dioxide that creates the final iconic bubbles is created. The mixture is placed in thick glass bottles and sealed after which it is placed in a cool cellar to slowly ferment.
These bottles are then aged for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years or more) during which the yeast cells die. The dead yeast cells are then removed from the bottles in a step called ‘riddling’. This step sees the bottles placed upside down and slowly rotated each day by the Riddler.
The dead yeast cells move to the neck of the bottle which are then removed by freezing the neck of the bottle and creating a yeast plug.
Once the plug is removed and a mixture of brandy, sugar, and white wine is added to adjust the sweetness of the wine. Finally, the bottle is corked and can be aged further in one’s cellar or enjoyed at a celebration.
What Are They Made of?
Both Ace of Spades and Cristal are made using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, with Ace of Spades additionally blending in Pino Meunier grapes. The types of grapes used in a champagne blend are important, with each brand selecting the exact composition that they will go with.
Chardonnay grapes have a mild flavor profile that, once included in a blend, adds freshness, structure, and acidity to the champagne.
Pinot Noir, in comparison, is a delicate grape that brings more body to the blend and adds soft aromatics to the final champagne.
Finally, Pinot Meunier grapes are a blending grape by history but have since become more popular in champagne making. These grapes bring red berry flavors to the champagne and create a balanced blend as a final product.
How Are They Similar?
Cristal and Ace of Spades have several similarities including similar alcohol contents (12% – 13% and 12,5% respectively) with similar grapes used.
Ace of Spades uses an additional grape type (Pinot Meunier) that Cristal does not use although the compositions of the Chardonnay are the same in both beverages (40%).
Similarly, both brands have somewhat similar price points, with Ace of Spades costing $18 more than its alternative. Finally, ad the most obvious similarity, both brands are produced in the Champagne region of France.
Direct Comparison of Ace of Spades and Cristal
|Item||Ace of Spades||Cristal|
|Production Area||Champagne Region of France||Champagne Region of France|
|Raw Ingredients||40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier||40% Chardonnay, 60% Pinot Noir grapes|
|Alcohol by Volume (ABV)||12,5% (25 proof)||12% – 13% (24 – 26 proof)|
|Taste||Notes of brioche, creamy vanillas, buttery flavor, hints of apricot jam||Crisp acidity, creamy honey flavor, hints of juicy fruits|
|Average Price||$357 per 750 ml||$339 per 750 ml|
|Color||Clear with bubbles||Clear with bubbles|
Between the two brands, Cristal is slightly less expensive on average and has a slightly higher alcohol content depending on the cuvée chosen.
Ace of Spades Variations
|Item||Size||Alcohol by Volume||Average Price|
|Armand deBrignaut Ace of Spades Gold Brut||750 ml||12,5% (25 proof)||$300|
|1,75 liter||12,5% (25 proof)||$700|
|Armand deBrignaut Ace of Spades Brut Rosé||750 ml||12,5% (25 proof)||$450|
|Armand deBrignaut Ace of Spades Demi-Sec||750 ml||12,5% (25 proof)||$370|
|Armand deBrignaut Ace of Spades Silver Blanc of Blancs||750 ml||12,5% (25 proof)||$700|
|Armand deBrignaut Ace of Spades Silver Blanc de Noirs||750 ml||12,5% (25 proof)||$950|
Ace of Spades Champagne comes in five cuvées; Gold Brut, Rosé, Demi-Sec, Silver Blanc de Blancs, and Blanc de Noirs. Each of the variations is made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.
The difference between them is the composition of the grapes, with the Blanc de Blancs made entirely of Chardonnay grapes and the Blanc de Noirs consisting of 100% Pinot Noir grapes.
Cristal Champagne Variations
|Item||Size||Alcohol by Volume||Average Price|
|Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé||750 ml||12% (24 proof)||$520|
|Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne||750 ml||13% (26 proof)||$240|
Cristal Champagne comes in 2 variations, the original recipe, and the Rosé variation. The original has a blend of 60% Pino Noir grapes and 40% Chardonnay grapes while the Rosé is made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay grapes.
Other Offerings from Louis Roederer
|Item||Size||Alcohol by Volume||Average Price|
|Louis Roederer Rosé Vintage||750 ml||12% (24 proof)||$70|
|Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006||750 ml||12% (24 proof)||$80|
|Louis Roederer Brut Premier||750 ml||12% (24 proof)||$50|
|Louis Roederer Carte Blanche||750 ml||12% (24 proof)||$50|
|Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009||750 ml||12% (24 proof)||$80|
How To Drink Ace of Spades and Cristal
Champagne is a classic beverage option for celebrations, adding a touch of luxury to your drink.
The best way to drink champagne, and the suggested way to drink both Ace of Spades and Cristal, is neat without ice. Pour the champagne into a champagne flute at 45° to avoid a buildup of bubbles.
To add an extra touch to your champagne, there are several options that you could incorporate. For a Mimosa, you want to use dry champagne (although sweet champagne like Cristal can still be used) and fresh orange juice. You may need to remove the pulp from the orange juice if it is not something you enjoy.
Pour equal parts of the orange juice and champagne into a champagne flute and enjoy. By adding orange juice, you can add a fruity element to your beverage. Mimosas are often enjoyed at brunches as a less alcoholic option to enjoy with your brunch.
Another addition you could mix with your champagne is fresh fruit. The fruit will naturally flavor your champagne slightly to create more dimension and something sweet to your beverage.
Suggested options are Cherries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, and cranberries. The fruit will naturally infuse with the alcohol, leaving a fun treat at the end of your drink.
For alternatives to Ace of Spades, Veuve Clicquot has a Le Grande Dame Brut that makes a good alternative. It has aromas of citrus zest, redcurrant, and acacia with a balanced and delicate flavor profile. The champagne is made primarily with Pinot Noir grapes and is sold at $195 with an ABV of 12% (24 proof).
Laurent-Perrier has a Grand Siècle Vintage Brut that is made using three principles followed by the brand. The champagne is aged for more than 10 years in the brand’s cellars and is made over 3 years before aging. It has an ABV of 12% (24 proof) and can be bought for $154.
An alternative to Cristal, Dom Pérignon’s P2 Brut makes a good option. The Plénitude 2 spends 15 years aging in a cellar and is described by the brand as having a deeper dimension than the original variation. At alcohol, by volume (ABV) of 12,5% (25 proof) a bottle of this champagne can be bought for $485 per 750 ml.
Otherwise, Krug Vintage has a Vintage 2000 Brut that is made from the most expressive wines from the year 2000. Made from 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier grapes, this champagne can be bought for $481 at an ABV of 12% (24 proof).
Frequently Asked Questions
Which came first?
Ace of Spades was established in 2006 while Cristal was established in 1876 meaning that Cristal came first.
Which is stronger?
Cristal has average alcohol by volume (ABV) of 12% – 13% (24 – 26 proof) while Ace of Spades has an ABV of 12,5%. Depending on which Cristal champagne you are comparing to Ace of Spades, either could be stronger.
Which is the most popular?
According to Town and Country Magazine, Cristal is the more popular option.