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Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot was founded in 1772 in Reims by Philippe Clicquot. He was from a family of bankers and textile merchants who already owned vineyards in Champagne. He decided to establish a wine business with the goal of bringing champagne to foreign markets, but textiles remained the focus of the business. Philippe's son François married Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin in 1798, this was an arranged marriage - common at the time - designed to consolidate Clicquot's business with the Ponsardins who were also successful textile merchants. François became his father's partner and under him trade grew, sales increased, and other activities were abandoned to concentrate on the champagne side of the business. This flourished, aided by François' new practice of employing travelling salesmen. But seven years later disaster struck when François fell suddenly ill and died shortly afterwards, aged just 30 A devastated Philippe intended to liquidate the maison, but the determined 27 year old Barbe-Nicole decided to take over the business in a world dominated by men. Her father-in-law agreed on one condition: she must go through a full apprenticeship to prove she was capable of running the business. Prove herself she did, launching her own company in 1810 - Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. “Veuve” means “Widow” in French, and this young widow went on to take the Champagne region and the world by storm. The vast majority of her champagne was being exported outside France but now, during the Napoleonic wars, naval blockades were paralysing commercial shipping. Taking a complete gamble she engineered for a ship to slip though the blockades and deliver a consignment of champagne to Russia. The Russians loved the Veuve's style of sweet champagne which contained a huge amount of sugar. The champagne arrived safely and was quickly sold, establishing a precedent with the Russian court and sales rocketed. The Veuve went from being an insignificant producer to a major league player at the helm of an internationally renowned business, spreading champagne across the globe. Many “firsts” followed. In 1810 the Veuve produced the first recorded vintage champagne. In 1816 she invented the riddling technique by drilling holes in her kitchen table with the help of her Cellar Master Antoine de Müller. In 1818 she is credited as the first to create a rosé assemblage champagne by blending some of her Bouzy red wines with champagne. The Veuve became known as “La Grand Dame” of Champagne, and when she died aged 89 in 1866, the world mourned. In 1877 the eye-catching yellow label, an uncommon colour for a champagne label at the time, was registered under the trademark Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Yellow Label. The logo within the label, an anchor inside a six-pointed star, represents the comet that crossed the skies of Champagne in 1811; this was an exceptional vintage. The anchor is a universal sign of hope and was chosen in 1798 by Philippe Clicquot as a trademark burned into his corks. Today Veuve Clicquot owns 390 hectares divided between 12 Grand Cru and 20 Premier Cru vineyard sites, planted to 47% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and 17% Pinot Meunier. Their vineyards have had sustainable certification since 2014. The Maison also buys grapes from long-term growers to augment their own fruit. From 1909 the Maison's production site has been located in one of the crayèrs, the famous Gallo-Roman chalk pits, dating from the 4th century, and here the champagnes age to perfection with twice the standard maturation required by the appellation and gives the house its signature full-bodied rich style. Since 1986 Veuve Clicquot has been owned by the luxury brand LVMH. The flagship champagne of the house, the elegant and refined Grande Dame first launched in 1972, honours the brave and innovative woman of this iconic Maison. When asked about the quality of her wines, the Veuve's reply was “we have only one quality, the finest”. This remains the Maison's motto and when you see the yellow label, you know that the quality of Champagne's Grand Dame lives on in every bottle..........