Veuve Clicquot History
The Clicquot Champagne House was founded in 1772, when Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, who dealt principally in textiles and finance, decided to transform a certain number of vineyards owned nearby Bouzy and Ambonnay into a wine business.
In 1801, he retired and handed control to his son Francois, at that time already married to Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin.
They led the business together until 1805 when Francoise, just 30 years, died, and widow (veuve) Ponsardin decided to take the family business in hand, becoming one of the first business women in a world predominantly domained by men.
Madame Clicquot Ponsardin showed a great business acumen, breaking the Russian market in a moment when the the reign was considered lost in Europe, thrown into turmoil by Napoleon and his ambitions: in 1811, as Napoleon’s blockades fell, she dispatched a consignment of 110000 bottles throughout Europe, 25000 of which for Russia.
In 1816 with the assistance of her cellar master, Antoine de Müller,the brilliant Dame invented the first ridding table, a process that continues to be used today as it is a crucial step in the clarification of champagne: the system is centred around wooden racks into which the bottles are placed neck first at an angle of 45 degrees, turned and tilted each day so to allow the sediments to come into the neck right behind the cork, ready to be removed during disgorgement.
Thanks to this Veuve Clicquot’s new technique, champagne would no longer require decanting before serving, or being left in the glass for the sediment to settle.
In 1828 the company fell into a financial crisis but thanks to Eduoard Werlé, a wealthy employee of the company who paid off the firm’s debts, the company could make it and Werlé was made partner in the business, leading the house as financial chief from 1841, when Madame Nicole-Barbe retirement’s unteil her death, in 1866, at the age of 89.
The Werlé family, Edouard and his son Alfred, ran on the business in the following years developing the groundwork laid by Nicole-Barbe: they acquired more new plots of vines and in 1877 they began utilising a yellow label for the wines, an unusual colour for champagne at the time.
In and registered this same label under the trademark “Veuve Clicquot P. Werlé” Yellow Label. Werlè family always recognised the great importance of the work done by Madame Clicquot-Ponsardin and in 1972, 200 years after the foundation, the House launched the prestigious cuvee “La Grande Dame”, as – it seems – Lady Clicquot-Ponsardin used to be named in the region.
Though the respect for the traditions the House kept on the process of innovation and in 1909 acquired the crayerers (chalk tunnels) located on the Saint Nicaise Hills, which today stretch over more than 24 km.
In 1987 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin became part of the LVMH-Moet Hennessy, where it remains today, headed up by president Cécile Bonnefond, with vineyard manager Christian Renard and cellar master Jacques Péters.
Veuve Clicquot House
As of March 2012, Jean-Marc Lacave is the new Chief Executive Officer of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, since the appointment of Stéphane Baschiera – former CEO – as Chief Executive Officer of Moet & Chandon.The House produces aproximately 8 Millions bottles per year.
The vineyard is one of the foremost vineyards in the Champagne region. In terms of both size and quality, it covers 515 hectares, scattered over 12 of the 17 Grand Crus and 14 of the 44 Premier Crus.
The productive vineyards, on 485 hectares, are split between land belonged to Veuve Clicquot (360 hectares) itself and land owned by the LVMH group (125 hectares).
The vineyards boast an exceptional average classification of close to 97%, a ranking that is based on the winegrowing properties of the terroir and the quality of the grapes produced.
The vines are mostly planted on the hillside where the soil is the shallowest and exposure to the sun is at a maximum. They are planted in white grapes (Chardonnay – 47%) and two varieties of black grapes that render a colourless juice (Pinot Noir – 42% and Pinot Meunier – 11%). Vinestocks are determined for each vineyard depending on the soil, climate and sun exposure.
Veuve Clicquot Style
The motto of the house “one quality only, the finest” is followed ever since the harvest: Veuve Clicquot employs more than 1200 grape pickers every year.
Every precaution is taken to ensure that the grapes remain intact right up to the moment of pressing, and a network of Veuve Clicquot pressing centres, with a press in each sector, cuts the distance and time between the vine and the presses to a minimum.
Moreover, the vines are mostly planted on the hillside where the soil is the shallowest and exposure to the sun is at a maximum. Vinestocks are determined for each vineyard depending on the soil, climate and sun exposure.
The blending team guided by cellar master Dominique Demarville (tenth cellar master, appointed in 2011), must also comb through the reserve wines, kept for 10 to 20 years, to uncover the typical flavours that will uphold the Veuve Clicquot style in light of the wines of the year’s harvest.
Only the juice from the cuvee (the first – and most noble – pressing) is used, blended using approximately fifty different crus, predominatly of Pinot Noir and with a use of between 25 and 40% of reserve wines.
Non-vintages are aged for a minimum of 36 months and vintage wines for a minimum of five years. VeuveClicquot champagnes are very lightly dose.
The small dosage of liqueur allows the House’s emblematic wine to fully express the values that characterize the VeuveClicquot style: powerful and complex. Rounded, deeper, fuller, more pungent, and as far as the non-vintage is concerned, more age-worthy.