When he trots out his "Champagne Papi" alter ego, you can never be 100% sure if Drake is joking or not. But there’s nothing to laugh at about the superstar rapper's latest business endeavor, a luxury champagne brand called Mod Sélection.
At first sip at least this seems to be no mere celebrity vanity project but a viable addition to the venerable sparkling wine’s ranks. Drake’s partner in the venture, Brent Hocking, seems to know his business having successfully launched DeLeón Tequila in 2009, which was sold to Diageo in 2013.
And the champagne itself didn’t suddenly appear out of thin air; Drake and Hocking are essentially re-imagining and exporting a mellow cuvée that had previously only been distributed to the “industry elite” in France, produced at a family-run winery located in the Vallée de la Marne that dates back to 1892.
“They had an exquisite product that the world wasn’t aware of,” Hocking told The Hollywood Reporter, “and I knew we could develop the most beautiful, high-quality champagne together.”
The name invites comparisons with Dom Pérignon, while the intricate packaging, in chocolate earth tones with a gold and rose floral-etched pattern and snakeskin foil capsule—the company claims no two bottles will be exactly alike—calls to mind Jay-Z’s Armand de Brignac bubbly.
Mod Sélection carries a similar price point to the latter with Mod Sélection Réserve (a brut) and Mod Sélection Rosé clocking in at $300 and $400 per bottle respectively.
As with any celebrity-endorsed product, it’s tempting to dismiss Drake’s involvement as a mere marketing ploy. However Hocking says that’s not the case.
“What drew me to Drake was that he clearly was interested in how I was making it, how I was designing it,” Hocking told The Hollywood Reporter.
“He didn’t want to be just a bystander, someone who thinks all he has to do are some social-media posts. He wanted to come to blind tastings with me, he wanted to be intimately involved in every aspect.”
As for the wine itself, Hocking says they selected it for its “exceptional dedication to purity, balance, and finesse,” and are attempting to position it as “the purest expression of balance and terroir produced in Champagne today,” quite a claim considering how many bubblies, many of them much older and widely celebrated, are in existence.
The company further claims that its “Pinot Meunier-dominant cuvées are produced using meticulous settling, natural clarification, and rigorous fermentation controls,” while the Mod Sélection Rosé is “one of few champagnes produced via the rare saignée method” and many of the wine-making processes, from cultivation to vinification and bottling, are carried out with minimal intervention and “exacting precision to preserve the fresh, bright and balanced house style.”
The end result is billed as a balance between “time-honored tradition and elegant modernity,” plus “impeccable taste.”
The final touch is a suede-lined, snakeskin gift box that, like the bottle itself, we imagine many revelers will want to keep on display.
“We wanted to create something you would want to hang onto after the fact,” Hocking says “another detail that went into creating a champagne… that felt truly special."