Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin: Fact Box
Owners LVMH group
Annual production 1.5 million cases
Hectares under vine 390
Dosage 3g/l (Extra Brut Extra Old), 6g/l (La Grande Dame), 9g/l (Yellow Label)
A brief history
1772 Philippe Clicquot establishes a small wine business, making use of vines he already owned in Bouzy.
1798 Philippe’s son, François marries Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the daughter of a wealthy Reims textile manufacturer.
1805 François died and Barbe-Nicole showed her force of character by asking her father-in-law to let her run the business. She injected plenty of cash into the business and soon learned the essential skills for making Champagne. She soon became known as Veuve Clicquot, or ‘widow Clicquot’.
1810 Madame Clicquot created the region’s first recorded vintage Champagne – the product of a single harvest.
1814 The first years were very difficult: England’s navy had barred access to the North Sea for French shipping, but with Napoleon’s exile the blockades began to reduce. With the help of her great salesman Louis Bohne, Madame Clicquot managed to get a shipment of 10,500 bottles of Champagne to St Petersburg.
1818 Madame Clicquot introduces a rosé made by blending in red wine.
1821 By now, Madame Clicquot was selling 280,000 bottles a year, mainly to the Tsar’s Court. Russia had proved itself to be a major market for the Champagne house, and was the key to Veuve-Clicquot Ponsardin’s success.
1866 In the year that Madame Clicquot died, the house was exporting around 750,000 bottles a year to markets all over the world. She had appointed Edouard Werlé as her successor – he had been the head of the company since 1841.
1972 To celebrate the house’s bicentenary, it created a new deluxe cuvee named in honour of Madame Clicquot – La Grande Dame.
Since the mid-1960s, the wines have been fermented in stainless steel with full malolactic. Since 2008, small portions have been aged in large oak foudres to add complexity through the range.
The vintage cuvées have great Pinot Noir at their hearts, approaching 60% of the assemblage. With the 2008, the Pinot Noir element rises to 92%, mostly sourced from the cooler Northern Montagne for extra elegance and freshness – one answer to climate change.
My own experience of Veuve Clicquot is that the house produces significant volumes without losing its attachment to quality across the range. Among my personal favourites are the Demi Sec and and the re-released older vintages in the Cave Privée Collection, such as the superb 1989.
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