Veuve Clicquot is one of the biggest and most recognized champagne brands in the world. Despite their substantial size, they have never lost sight of the most important element – the quality of their Pinot-dominant wines. They are conscious of the environment throughout all aspects of their production, and enjoy mutual respect and trust with their large network of growers. The Veuve Clicquot name, and their signature Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label cuvee, are symbols of luxury and indulgence around the world.
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The wines of Veuve Clicquot are both voluptuous and elegant. The predominance of Pinot Noir gives them a depth of flavour that doesn’t overwhelm the subtle, charming nuances. Chef de cave Dominique Demarville characterises the house style as ‘fullness,
followed by freshness’.
Veuve Clicquot Brut
50-55% Pinot Noir, 15-20% Meunier, 28-33% Chardonnay from 50 different crus. The famous Yellow Label, first trademarked by the house in 1877, is one of the world’s most recognised brand symbols. The percentage of reserve wines varies depending on the quality of the base vintage, and ranges between 25-40%.
Veuve Clicquot Rose
50-55% Pinot Noir, 28-33% Chardonnay, 25-35% Meunier. Reserve wines typically account for 25-35% of the finished wine, but may reach as high as 40% in some years. The structure of this wine is similar to the Brut, with the addition of red wine to attain the vibrant colour.
Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec
40-45% Pinot Noir, 30-35% Meunier, 20-25% Chardonnay. Grapes from over 50 crus, all vinified separately, provide the framework for this wine. 20-30% of reserve wines. Dosage is 45g/L.
Veuve Clicquot Rich
45% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier, 15% Chardonnay. A non-vintage champagne launched in 2015, and designed for cocktail mixology. It has a dosage of around 28g/L.
Veuve Clicquot Vintage
The Brut Vintage is made with extended ageing potential in mind. The assemblage is always Pinot Noir dominant, generally around 60-65%, with 30-35% Chardonnay and a small portion of Meunier. From the 2008 vintage onwards, around 5% of the wine is vinified in large oak casks. Dosage 8g/L.
Veuve Clicquot Rose Vintage
The Rose Vintage is commercially very significant at Veuve Clicquot. It accounts for around 30% of all their vintage champagnes sold. As with the blanc vintage, it is Pinot Noir dominant. Still red wine from Bouzy comprises around 15% of the final blend. Dosage 8g/L.
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
60-65% Pinot Noir, 35-40% Chardonnay from eight Grand Cru villages: Ambonnay, Avize, Ay, Bouzy, Le-Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Verzenay and Verzy. Named in commemoration of the famous widow behind Veuve Clicquot, Nicole Barbe Ponsardin Clicquot. This wine was first made in 1962 and launched a decade later on the 200th anniversary of the founding of the house.
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rose
A rose version of the La Grande Dame, blended with red wine from the Clos Colin in Bouzy, first created in 1988 and released in 1996.
Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rich
Formerly called Rich Reserve. First created in 1988 and launched in 1995, this is a vintage wine made in a sec style, with approximately 28g/L dosage.
Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage
Approximately 2/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Chardonnay. This wine is a blend of fruit from around 20 Grand and Premier Crus, and is released considerably later than other vintage wines.
Veuve Clicquot Cave Privee
The Cave Privee wines are a range created in 2010 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the house’s first vintage wine in 1810. It includes Rose cuvees, as well as Blancs. The Cave Privee are vintage wines held back for late disgorgement and release. Only those wines that have matured exceptionally are released as Cave Privee.
Veuve Clicquot Trilennium Reserve Cuvee 1989
Only 20,000 bottles of this special cuvee were made in 1989, and sold en-primeur in 1990. It was produced to celebrate the bicentennial of the end of the French Revolution, and as it would be drinking perfectly by 1999, it was also in preparation for the global celebrations welcoming in the year 2000.
Founded almost 250 years ago, in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot, this iconic Champagne house started out as part of a trading company. Philippe was a financier involved in the textiles industry, however he was also in charge of a few parcels of vineyard in prime locations in Bouzy and Ambonnay. Over the next 20 years Philippe invested a lot of time in building and growing the business and eventually passed it down to his son, Francois, in 1801.
Tragically, just five years later, at the young age of 30, Francois died from a debilitating battle with a fever. Philippe was too old to resume his former position and was considering selling the business. This was unacceptable to Francois’ young 27-year-old wife, Nicole-Barbe Clicquot Ponsardin, now ‘veuve’ (widow) Clicquot. She decided to take over control of the house, which was a surprising and brave move considering that commerce and industry were very much a man’s world in the 19th century.
The widow Clicquot promptly silenced her doubters and quickly established the house as one of the most powerful in the region. Four years into her tenure, in 1810, she brought in Antoine Muller as chef de cave, and together they would make great strides, not only in sales and business growth, but also with their pioneering improvements to the methods used to produce champagne.
Working together, in 1816 they invented the technique of ‘remuage’, or ‘riddling’, as a way to clear the wine of the sediment left by the dead yeast cells after second fermentation. Up until this point, people waited for the residue to settle at the bottom of the glass, or the bottle was decanted off the lees. This was one of the greatest advancements in sparkling winemaking, and riddling - whether by hand or machine - is still the clarification method used today.
Veuve Clicquot had two other notable achievements. First, she purchased some of the grandest vineyards in the best growing areas of Champagne. Second, she successfully gained entry into the rich and powerful Russian market. Despite the very complicated political climate of 1814, she managed to circumvent an embargo to send a shipment of 10,000 bottles of the famous 1811 vintage to the royal court in St Petersburg. It was met with resounding enthusiasm, and established the house of Veuve Clicquot as a dominant force in the market for nearly half a century.
By 1828, however, things were not quite as rosy. Several years earlier, Nicole-Barbe’s daughter Clementine had married Comte Louis de Chevigne, an irresponsible man who spent his new family’s money rather too freely. This was finally curtailed when an affluent employee, Edouard Werle, paid off the Clicquot debts and simultaneously secured himself a partnership in the company. When Nicole-Barbe retired in 1841, it was Werle who took control of the house.
Werle succeeded in maintaining the quality and reputation of the house for over 40 years, and in 1886, he passed the reins to his son, Alfred, who continued the widow Clicquot’s example and acquired more plots of fine vineyards for the house.
The succession then passed to Alfred’s son-in-law, Comte Bertrand de Mun, and in turn to his son-in-law, Alain de Vogue. In 1987, Veuve Clicquot became part of the merged luxury goods group LVMH, and they remain the current owners.
At the winemaking helm is chef de cave Dominique Demarville. He became only the 10th cellar master for the house of Veuve Clicquot in 2009, having worked in the industry since 1985. After his first harvest experience, he earned his degree in oenology and viticulture from the Lycee de Viticole de la Champagne in Avize, and later earned a second degree from the University of Burgundy in Dijon.
Veuve Clicquot owns a vast amount of vineyards in Champagne – 393 hectares – located in 22 villages. Their holdings are found in many Grand Crus, including Ambonnay, Avize, Bouzy, Cramant, Le Mesnil, Oger and Verzenay. Despite the extent of their land, these grapes provide only around a quarter of the house’s total needs. Additional grapes are supplied by growers who have worked with the house for many years under long-term contracts.
All the vineyards are farmed sustainably. They make use of renewable energy and have consciously lowered their carbon footprint and have also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 15% per bottle.
Veuve Clicquot operate six pressing centres in various regions, and each grape variety and cru are vinified separately. They also have winemaking facilities in the main regions of the Cote des Bar, the Montagne de Reims and the Cote des Blancs. There is even a winery devoted solely to making red wine for blending into rose champagne, which they share with Moet et Chandon.
From 1962, only stainless steel tanks were used for fermentation, but from the 2008 vintage, a small percentage of oak is being used for the vintage champagnes. The oak casks they use are large oak foudres. These vary in size from 55 to 75hl, and are made with French oak from forests in the Vosges, Alliers, Fontainebleau and central France. Dominique likes to use a small percentage of oak-fermented wine judiciously, to enhance the complexity of the vintage wine.
After completion of the first fermentation, all the wines are tasted before going through malolactic fermentation. The non-vintage wines mature for a minimum of 30 months and the vintages for at least five years. The wines are aged at the perfect temperature of 11°C in the chalk cellars, known as ‘crayeres’, 20 meters underground.