During his intense partying nights at Studio 54, Andy Warhol’s drink of choice was Dom Perignon. Who could blame him? The champagne is fabled for making men witty and women beautiful.
Now Dom Perignon is returning the compliment by paying tribute to the Pop Artist with a special edition of the just-released 2002 vintage.
DayGlo red, blue and yellow labels on bottles and boxes created by London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design are now at available at wine shops.
It’s part of a move to make American drinkers more conscious of the delights champagne can offer.
Laurent Boidevezi is head of Dom Perignon Business and Champagne Strategy at Moet Hennessy USA.
I spoke with Boidevezi at his office in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
Lundborg: You are in charge of champagne strategy not just for Dom Perignon, but the other Moet Hennessy brands as well: Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Moet & Chandon and Ruinart. What’s the toughest challenge?
Boidevezi: It’s changing consumer perception about champagne. We have a significant opportunity in the U.S., where the market is very underdeveloped.
Consumers still think of champagne only when they want to celebrate, especially at the end of the year. We need to convince the American consumer to have a more spontaneous approach to champagne.
Lundborg: How underdeveloped are we?
Boidevezi: The number of drinking-age people in the U.S. who’ve had at least one glass of champagne over the last year is 11-12 percent.
Clearly, Americans are drinking way too much beer.
Lundborg: Perhaps the trick is to target a younger audience?
Boidevezi: We’ve put a program together to celebrate graduation ceremonies at some Ivy League schools and the Harvard Business School.
In June, windows in the wine shops close to campuses displayed our products and explained that as our champagne represents one pinnacle of human achievement, it is therefore fitting for graduation.
Lundborg: What else are you doing?
Boidevezi: We are also trying to make a cultural change in restaurants. You know how the waiter offers you flat or sparkling water?
Champagne is a great aperitif since it opens the appetite, and we now have 800 participating restaurants asking customers if they would like to start off with a glass of bubbly.
Lundborg: Tell me about the tribute to Andy Warhol.
Boidevezi: It’s true to our DNA, but we are playing a little bit with the code, bringing an edge to our brand.
Andy Warhol wrote in his diary in 1981 about how much he loved the “2000” club, a group of 20 guys who got together to buy 2000 bottles of Dom Perignon to pop open and drink in 2000.
Warhol said the running joke was speculation about who would make it and who wouldn’t.
Lundborg: Sadly, he didn’t.
Boidevezi: No, but since Dom Perignon is about obsessive creation and the artistic process, the Warhol design will, we hope, excite regular consumers and recruit new ones.
It’s a limited release and the bottles won’t last very long, as people collect and gift them.
Lundborg: What’s the best part of your job?
Boidevezi: I reflect how lucky I am to have this unbelievable brand, the king of champagne.
Lundborg: What’s the best way to drink champagne?
Boidevezi: We’re not champagne police. Drink it the way you want. We believe champagne is about pop, it’s about life and excitement.
(Zinta Lundborg is an editor for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own. This interview was adapted from a longer conversation.)