New century. Old fizz

2,000 bottles at $2,000 a go to kick off the year 2000. Why didn't I think of that? says Julie Street
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Vintners in Reims are in a flap. This small area to the east of Paris is responsible for supplying champagne to millennium revellers and, the vineyard bosses claim, demand is already outstripping supply as people gear up for the party to end all parties. With the price of champagne predicted to increase by 25 per cent over the next few years, the race is on to find the gimmick to end all gimmicks, and Louis Roederer is leading the way.

The company claims to have been the first to come up with the idea of millennium champagne. "We were in a brainstorming session, inventing all these outlandish ways of celebrating the year 2000," recalls director Jean-Claude Rouzaud, "and the answer was staring us in the face all along. We would simply produce 2,000 bottles of vintage champagne engraved with the words `Year 2000', and sell the limited series for $2,000 [pounds 1,200] a bottle."

A tidy sum for a spot of bubbly, but then this millennium champagne does come in Methuselahs - eight times the size of a normal bottle. More than half the bottles have already been reserved and the company expects to sell the rest before the end of this year. Would a champagne by any other name smell as sweet?