My milestone birthday started with coffee and a box of Godiva chocolates that were a gift from my Dad. Shortly thereafter, my husband toted my “birthday wines” down to the beach where we planned to spend the day. The first wine was of course a Champagne! This bottle was also a birthday gift from my dear friend and co-worker Marcus. I don’t know how I am supposed to be upset about turning 50 when it starts out like this!
Popping the cork early with only a couple of chocolates for breakfast had me soon realizing why people celebrate life’s happy moments with Champagne! It just puts a smile on your face.
I had not had Veuve Clicquot before and, to be completely honest, it has such massive media exposure with product placement it seems literally everywhere, it always left me thinking their branding/marketing person was phenomenal but it never made me want to run out and buy it. Luckily it was gifted to me because I am now a fan.
The company’s motto is “Let Life Surprise You” and I have to admit I was indeed pleasantly surprised – lemon curd and maybe melon notes on the nose and also on the palate, in addition to creamy caramel (maybe vanilla?) and toasty notes. This wine is dry and crisp, with a hint of minerality. – absolutely perfect for the beach. I nibbled on some fresh strawberries and blackberries with it – perfection.
Not only is Veuve Clicquot delicious, the company’s history is long, wonderful and unique. Veuve literally translates to widow in English and the Widow Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot , would become not only the first woman to run a Champagne house, but she would literally put Champagne on the map and revolutionize the production process.
At the time of her husband’s death, wine was only a small portion of the family’s business dealings, and was mostly still wine at that. Phillipe, her husband and Barbe had a dream of producing sparkling wine that would become the best that Champagne had to offer. It had not met with much success at the time of Phillipe’s death but Madame Clicquot wanted desperately to continue working at making the business a success. The fact that it wasn’t profitable, coupled with the idea of a woman (women had no financial rights at this time) made this seem all but impossible.
It was discovered that French law allowed a Widow to have all of the same rights as those of her deceased husband. So, with the support of her Father In Law and a friend of her late husband’s she took over and company. She was a single woman with a 6 year old daughter who developed a failing company into one of the world’s best known Champagne brands. The rest, as they say, is history. If this is not reason enough to give this wine a try, here are few other firsts credited to this brand as well:
- The first Champagne to be shipped to Russia, immediately following the Napoleonic Wars – Madame Clicquot had smuggled the wine to Amsterdam, so that it could be immediately delivered upon declaration of peace — beating out any competitors.
- It is said that Madame Clicquot gave the soldiers and guards at the Russian Blockade bottles of the Champagne to drink. The soldiers used their swords to open the bottles – thus inventing sabring open a bottle.
- Madame Clicquot is credited with producing the first Rosé Champagne – who knew! The Rosé is definitely on my list to try.
- Madame Clicquot is credited with inventing the first Riddling rack, making the Reumage process easier and more consistent – a literal revolution in Champagne production.
Not firsts, but interesting facts:
- Bottles of 1913 Veuve Clicquot were recovered from a shipwreck and were tasted in 2015 and deemed to be drinkable!
- In 2008 a bottle of 1893 Veuve Clicquot was found in a sideboard in Scotland castle! It is on display at Veuve Clicquot and is considered priceless.
- In 1987 Veuve Clicquot joined the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.
- In 2003, LVHM purchase New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay brand through the Veuve Clicquot label
Now I know why Veuve Clicquot is everywhere – retailing at around $45 (Total Wine) and $42 at Costco – it is not only a great price point for true Champagne, but with its incredible history, it is truly irresistible.
Cheers to the courage, determination and genius that was Madame Clicquot!
Sources: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-widow-who-created-the-champagne-industry-180947570/ https://www.veuveclicquot.com/en-us https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veuve_Clicquot