AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 38
Name of wine estate: Veuve Clicquot
Wine region: Champagne
Standout points: UNESCO-recognised Crayères cellars; the story of ‘La Grande Dame’
Winemaker: Dominique Demarville
Wine style: Traditional-method sparkling
With added sparkle
Founded in 1772, Veuve Cicquot is one of the most recognisable Champagne brands there is, thanks to the distinctive yellow label and the resonance of the Widow Clicquot – the ‘Grande Dame of Champagne’ – after whom the company is named. As befits a company founded on the motto that ‘there is only one quality, the finest’, the visitor experience at this prestigious house is impressive.
La Grande Dame
For those who don’t know the story, Madame Clicquot (1777-1866) was widowed at the age of 27 and subsequently took the helm of her late husband’s Champagne company. Not only did she succeed in turning it into an internationally recognised luxury brand, she effectively created a blueprint for the success of the entire Champagne industry. For this reason, she is often regarded as the first businesswoman of the modern era.
Any visit to the Champagne region which did not include a visit to its Crayères chalk cellars would be a missed opportunity. These atmospheric vaulted cellars have been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO since 2015 and are owned by just a handful of Champagne houses. Those of Veuve Clicquot lie 20m beneath Saint-Nicaise Hill on the outskirts of Reims and form a labyrinthine 24km underground network – the largest of any Champagne company in Reims.
A range of public and private tour options are designed to give you an immersive experience of Veuve Clicquot heritage. Chose, for example, the Madame Clicquot Tour, which includes a stroll in the beautiful city of Epernay to see important locations attached to Madame Clicquot history, a visit to the magnificent Crayères cellars and a tasting of the Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and icon La Grande Dame cuveé. Vineyard-focused tours are also available – learn in situ about the terroir of Bouzy and roam the mythical parcel of Clos Colin. Electric-assisted bike tours are also an option.