Veuve Clicquot

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Perhaps the most recognizable wine label on the planet today, the house did not achieve this status by accident. Their range goes far beyond the infamous Yellow Label, as the Grande Dame and Vintage cuvées are age-worthy and of great quality.

Founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot, who owned a small vineyard in Bouzy, the house grew when Philippe’s son married Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, who was the heiress to a textile fortune. Sadly, the son, François, passed away in 1805, leaving Madame Clicquot a widow – or, in French, “Veuve.” By 1810 she had created the region’s first single vintage Champagne, and later in 1818 concocted the original Rosé by assemblage method, blending in red wine. At this point of the 19th century, much of the best Champagne was being sent to Russia and England to serve royalty, and they paid a small fortune to import Clicquot’s wines, demanding more. By her death in 1866, She had raised the production to such an extent that\ some 750,000 were exported every year. Production has changed a bit through the years; the 1960s brought more technology in the form of stainless steel, which would help control the fermentation better. In 2008, some of the wine has been aged in large oak foudres. Overall, it is hard to quantify the number of cuvées made, and to differentiate between many of them, as the blends are proprietary and closely guarded. The house has generally not bottled many wines drier than Brut, and in occasional vintages created the rare Demi-sec, sometimes even a Doux (sometimes called ‘Rich’) – 50 g/L of sugar as a dosage!! Truly, though, it is a triumph for a house to maintain strong quality over the range of millions of bottles.

La Grande Dame is the Tête-de-Cuvée here, in honor of the Veuve herself. Introduced in 1972 a wine comprised of eight grand crus the Madame Clicquot purchased in the 1800s, mostly Pinot Noir – the grape that represents generally 75-90% of the final blend. Quite a rich example of Champagne, LGD ages gracefully, probably at its best within the first 15-25 years, but the best vintages can carry on further.

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