Veuve Clicquot

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Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
Industry Champagne production
Founded 1772 (246 years ago)
Founder Philippe Clicquot-Muiron
Headquarters 12, Rue du Temple
Reims, France
Key people
Jean-Marc Gallot (President),[1] Jean Marc Lacave (former President)
Revenue Increase €1.2 billion (2012)
Parent LVMH

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (French pronunciation: ​[vœv kliko pɔ̃saʁdɛ̃]) is a French Champagne house based in Reims, specializing in premium products. Founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, Veuve Clicquot played an important role in establishing champagne as a favored drink of haute bourgeoisie and nobility throughout Europe. The 1811 comet vintage of Veuve Clicquot is theorized to have been the first truly "modern" Champagne due to the advancements in the méthode champenoise which Veuve Clicquot pioneered through the technique of remuage.[2][3]


Portrait of Madame Clicquot and her great-granddaughter Anne de Rochechouart-Mortemart by Léon Cogniet.

In 1772, Philippe Clicquot-Muiron established the original enterprise which eventually became the house of Veuve Clicquot. In 1775, it was credited to be the first Champagne house to produce rosé Champagne, using the method of adding red wine during production.[4]

Philippe's son, François Clicquot, married Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin in 1798 and died in 1805, leaving his widow (veuve in French) in control of a company variously involved in banking, wool trading, and Champagne production. She became the first woman to take over a Champagne house.[4] Under Madame Clicquot's guidance, the firm focused entirely on the last, to great success.[5]

During the Napoleonic Wars, Madame Clicquot made strides in establishing her wine in royal courts throughout Europe, notably that of Imperial Russia, thus becoming the first Champagne house to ship Champagne through the blockade to Russia in 1811.[4] During this time, she also gave Champagne to the Prussian guards enforcing the blockade and the soldiers opened the champagne with their swords, so started the technique of sabring Champagne.[6] By the time she died in 1866 Veuve Clicquot had become both a substantial Champagne house and a respected brand. Easily recognised by its distinctive bright yellow labels, the wine holds a royal warrant from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

Since 1987 the Veuve Clicquot company has been part of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy group of luxury brands, and today owns a controlling interest in New Zealand's Cloudy Bay Vineyards.[citation needed]

Modernisation of production[edit]

Bottles of Veuve Clicquot ranging from "piccolo" (0.188 L) to "Balthazar" (12 L)

Madame Clicquot is credited with a great breakthrough in champagne handling that made mass production of the wine possible. In the early 19th century, with the assistance of her cellar master, Antoine de Müller, Clicquot invented the riddling rack that made the crucial process of dégorgement both more efficient and economic.[7] Clicquot's advance involved systematically collecting the spent yeast and sediments left from the wine's secondary fermentation in the bottle's neck by using a specialised rack.

Composed much like a wooden desk with circular holes, the rack allowed a bottle of wine to be stuck sur point or upside down. Every day a cellar assistant would gently shake and twist (remuage) the bottle to encourage wine solids to settle to the bottom. When this was completed, the cork was carefully removed, the sediments ejected, and a small replacement dose of sweetened wine added.[8]

Oldest bottle[edit]

In July 2008 an unopened bottle of Veuve Clicquot was discovered inside a sideboard in Torosay Castle, Isle of Mull, Scotland. The 1893 bottle was in mint condition, having been kept in the dark, and was the oldest bottle known to exist. It is now on display at the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin visitor centre in Reims and is regarded as priceless.[9]

Shipwrecked bottles[edit]

In 1987, an expedition, licensed by the Michigan Department of State and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and headed by underwater archaeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence, recovered a number of cases of Veuve Clicquot (Yellow Label, Dry) Champagne from the 9 November 1913, shipwreck of the Canadian steamer Regina in Lake Huron, off Port Sanilac, Michigan. Spence afterwards described the still sparkling Champagne as "quite dark in color but as having an excellent taste." The shipwreck site is located in approximately 83 feet of water at latitude 43°20.24′ North, longitude 82°26.76′ West. The water temperatures at the wreck-site range from 1°-18 °C (35 °F. to 65 °F).[10]

In July 2010, a group of Finnish divers found 168 bottles from the Föglö wreck in the Baltic Sea off the coast of the Åland Islands.[11][12][13] The bottles were initially claimed to have been produced between 1782 and 1788. They were sent back to France for analysis. Shortly after this, the bottles were traced to a now-defunct champagne house Juglar. In November 2010, it was reported that the wreck indeed included Veuve Clicquot bottles as well.[14][15] Veuve Clicquot stated that experts checking branding of the corks "were able to identify with absolute certainty" that three of the bottles were theirs. The other bottles examined were attributed to Juglar.[15]

On 17 November, the local government of the Åland Islands announced that most of the bottles were to be auctioned off.[16]

In January 2011, further information about the Åland bottles was released. Ninety-five of them were identified as Juglar, forty-six as Veuve Clicquot, and at least four as Heidsieck.[17] The well-preserved wine was considered drinkable when it was tasted in 2015. Chemical analysis showed levels of sugar (150 g/L) much higher than modern champagne. It also had much higher levels of salt, iron, lead, copper, and arsenic compared with modern vintages. It is believed the arsenic and copper originated from antiquated pesticide (Bordeaux mixture) applied to the grapes. The iron probably came from nails used in the wine barrels, and the lead leached from brass valve fittings of the winemaking equipment. Modern champagne producers begin with wine from stainless steel barrels, yielding lower iron and lead levels.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

Veuve Clicquot is featured in several films including Casablanca and Babette's Feast.

Veuve Clicquot is mentioned in Downton Abbey Series 6, Episode 1.

Veuve Clicquot is mentioned as having been consumed by the fictional British Secret Service operative, James Bond (written by Ian Fleming). Bond drank Clicquot, Veuve Clicquot, and Veuve Clicquot Rosé in at least three of the original novels: Casino Royale, Diamonds Are Forever, and Thunderball.

In Gore Vidal's historical novel Lincoln, a prostitute serves U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's personal secretary John Hay Veuve Clicquot at a bordello—where it is known as "the Widow"—on Inauguration night, March 4, 1861.[19]

Veuve Clicquot is popular throughout the Real Housewives series, in particular Beverly Hills, Orange County, and New York City.

In multiple nineteenth-century Russian novels, Veuve Clicquot is used as synonym for high-class Champagne sparkling vine. The brand is mentioned in works of Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and other prominent and less-prominent authors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Champagne : Jean-Marc Gallot prend la direction de Veuve-Clicquot (LVMH)". 12 September 2014. 
  2. ^ G. Harding "A Wine Miscellany" pp 45–47, Clarkson Potter Publishing, New York 2005 ISBN 0-307-34635-8
  3. ^ H. Johnson Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 337 Simon & Schuster 1989 ISBN 0-671-68702-6
  4. ^ a b c Glengarry Victoria Park Store [New Look] Episode 2: Regan and the Champagne Area
  5. ^ Don and Petie Kladstrup, Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times (New York: William Morrow, 2005), p. 77. ISBN 0-06-073792-1.
  6. ^ = Sabre Champagne =
  7. ^ Don and Petie Kladstrup, Champagne, p. 78.
  8. ^ Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, The World Atlas of Wine, 5th ed. (London: Mitchell Beazley, 2001), pg 79. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
  9. ^ "'Priceless' champagne discovered". BBC News. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  10. ^ "Mystery Wreck of the Great Lakes". 22 September 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  11. ^ The World's oldest champagne – Official web site of the Åland islands, Finland Archived 25 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Treasure bubbles to the surface". The Australian. News Limited. 18 July 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  13. ^ "'World's oldest champagne' found on Baltic seabed". BBC News. 17 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  14. ^ Lechmere, Adam, (17 November 2010). Champagne still 'fresh' after nearly two centuries in Baltic
  15. ^ a b "Veuve Clicquot: Shipwrecked champagne was ours". Yahoo! News. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Auction of the World's oldest champagne – Press release of Aland, Finland[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Ahvenanmaan samppanjahylystä löytyi uusi juomalaatu". Helsingin Sanomat. 17 January 2011. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  18. ^ Sarah Everts. 170-Year-Old Champagne Cache Analyzed: Chemical analysis of shipwrecked bubbly reveals secrets of 19th-century French winemaking. Chem & Eng News April 20, 2015.
  19. ^ Vidal, Gore (2000). Lincoln: A Novel. New York: Vintage Int'l. p. 79. ISBN 0-375-70876-6. (Original work published 1984).

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