A Woman to Know: Madame Clicquot Ponsardin
|Julia Carpenter||Mar 30, 2017|
The world is in perpetual motion and we must invent the things of tomorrow. — Madame Clicquot Ponsardin
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
Many wine lovers know champagne's origin story: a 17th century monk, Dom Perignon, cooked up the first batch and pronounced he could "taste the stars" in a single glass.
But despite Perignon's (amazingly delicious) discovery, people wouldn't be drinking champagne at weddings, parties and celebrations of all kinds without the work of one industrious widow: Madame Clicquot.
When her husband died suddenly in 1805, Madame was just 27 years old, left alone with a three-year-old daughter and the crumbling Clicquot business empire. She focused her sights on the one arm of the business she knew best: the wine. With the help of her father-in-law and some wine cellar specialists, she perfected champagne production. Perignon's fermentation process resulted in a cloudy, yeasty drink; with Madame's experimentation, the Clicquot winery shipped sparklingly clear variations, with a slight hint of sweetness to brighten the final pour.
And most importantly, Madame knew the power of branding: she added a distinctive yellow label to each bottle, complete with an ink star stamped on the champagne cork.
Within a few years, Clicquot champagne traveled the world. Even as Napoleon rose to power and rocked the European economy, Madame's business thrived. By 1812, she was selling more than 700,000 bottles a year. After her death, the Clicquot house added a "Veuve" to its name, in honor of the French word for "widow." Today, with its star cork and yellow label, Veuve Clicquot is one of the most recognized champagnes in the world.
Add to your library list:
Veuve Clicquot Yellow (Elisabeth Vedrenne)
The Life and Times of Madame Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin (Jacqueline de Chimay)
The widow who created the champagne industry (Smithsonian)
Veuve Clicquot: the effervescent widow who created champagne (The Guardian)
The woman who made champagne (The Chicago Tribune)
My trip to Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (Vanity Fair)
A Year in Champagne (David Kennard)
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