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The Widow & The Wine
Posted on April 20, 2019 by in Wine

Madame Clicquot was one of the first modern business women, developing some of the most important innovations in champagne.

Madame Clicquot, La Grande Dame De La Champagne, carried on her husband’s wine business after his passing, becoming one of France’s richest ladies.

Maison Veuve Clicquot has produced some of the world’s finest luxury champagne since 1772. Born into a wealthy family, Barbe Ponsardin married François Clicquot, who worked in his family’s modest wine business.

Barbe quickly became interested in wine production, working together with François to expand the Clicquot brand. When her husband unexpectedly died, Madame Clicquot was left a widow (or “veuve” in French). She became the sole business owner at age 27—faced with significant economic, political and agricultural challenges. Breaking all societal norms, she took the reins and never looked back.

Over the course of her groundbreaking career, she revolutionized the wine industry and brought Veuve Clicquot to international acclaim. In 1810, she produced the first vintage wine in Champagne, France. The art of blending grapes from just one year’s harvest is still practiced today, much like other advancements she pioneered. Vintage champagnes continue to be recognized as some of the world’s most prestigious wines.

With her daring, avant-garde approach, Madame Clicquot also invented the riddling table in 1816 to clarify her champagne, a method which remains commonplace in all French Houses. By doing so, she improved both the quality and finesse of the wines.

Additionally, Madame Clicquot used the red wines from her Bouzy vineyards to create the very first rosé champagne made through assemblage in 1818. Her method of blending white wine with red wine was adopted across Champagne and is still recognized as a best practice.

She anticipated the fall of Napoleon in 1815 and the lifting of a continental trade embargo. Boldly, Madame Clicquot ran the blockade before the formal restoration of international trade, beating her competitors back to Russia to secure the business for her brand.

Thanks to her intuition, Madame Clicquot also invested in many plots of vineyards, which were later classified as “Grand Cru”. She personally assisted with each harvest, tasted all cuvées, and decided on the blends. Her obsession for quality went beyond the wine and also encompassed the corks and glass used for the bottles. A determined hand in a velvet glove, Madame Clicquot demanded ‘only one quality—the finest.’

Madame Clicquot’s birthday is December 16th. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a bottle of her top shelf champagne? If you’re seeking the ultimate sparkling wine for entertaining or gifting, check out our world-class selection of Veuve Clicquot products.