White and rosé Champagne
The history of Veuve Clicquot is a history of innovations and firsts. It was the first Champagne house to be run by a woman, who pioneered the 'riddling process' that is key to Champagne production, produced the first vintage Champagne and created the first true rosé Champagne. Its bright yellow label has been its calling card and a mark of the highest quality since it was trademarked in 1877.
The house itself was established just over 100 years before, in 1772. In 1805, François Clicquot, son of the founder, died tragically young. He left behind an equally young widow, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot. After some initial doubt over what to do next, the Veuve Clicquot decided to maintain the property and focus its entire energies on producing wine. Her long tenure at the helm of the property was marked by a litany of original and groundbreaking innovations. Just five years later, in 1810, Madame Clicquot's powers of innovation are revealed when she creates the first recorded vintage Champagne. In 1816, she and her cellar master devise a way of removing sediment from the bottles to guarantee crystal-clear wine. This 'riddling process' remains a key element in the production of Champagne and other sparkling wines to this day. Finally, in 1818, under her auspices, the house produces the first true rosé Champagne, a 'rosé d'assemblage' by blending red wines from Bouzy with her Champagne. Veuve Clicquot died in 1866 having created what was then – and remains to this day – one of the most famous Champagne houses in the world. Her extraordinary legacy lives on in the house's flagship cuvée, 'La Grande Dame'. Today the house farms 390 hectares of vines across the region including in many of its best vineyards. Ninety-five per cent of the Veuve Clicquot vines are classified as Grands or Premiers crus. The estate practices sustainable viticulture, undergoing its first carbon footprint assessment in 2002. It went herbicide-free in 2018.
The history of this great house and its legendary female figurehead form the core of any visit to the house's cellars in Reims. The other character is the cellars themselves. The house acquired 482 'crayères', old chalk quarries found on the outskirts of the city, in 1909. Naturally cool and humid, they provided the perfect conditions for the ageing of Champagne and have been listed as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Veuve Clicquot offers visitors several unique experiences that reveal the many facets of the house's history and how Champagne is made. These revolve around tours of the cellars, tastings and food pairings from the classic yellow label all the way to La Grande Dame. The house also hosts various events during the year, such as rosé-themed picnics in the gardens of the Manoir de Verzy.