Veuve Clicquot Champagne: Riddle Me This!

Veuve Clicquot ad 1Above: Designer Karim Rashid created a Love Seat for Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow By Design exhibition, a modern take of an 18th century love seat blended with the rose colour seats to complement the Veuve Clicquot wine.

Part 1: Champagne Widows

Madame Clicquot wasn’t just a saleswoman, she also developed the technique called remuage or riddling, to remove sediment from the wine – a method that was quickly adopted throughout the Champagne region.

riddling table Veuve ClicquotVeuve Clicquot Riddling Table

The second fermentation in the bottle that gives champagne its carbon dioxide also creates sediment, which gives the wine an unsightly cloudy appearance.  To clarify it, Madame Clicquot drilled holes in her kitchen table and inserted the bottles upside down.

The sediment gradually collected the necks, where it was disgorged while still upside down.  Then the bottles were righted and re-corked.  champagne riddling

Eventually, she switched to upright racks, which took up less space in the cellar.  (And presumably, Madame grew tired of having to balance her dinner plate on her lap.)

Veuve Clicquot ran the business for more than sixty years, until she died in 1866, at the age of 89.

Meanwhile, in 1858, at the age of 39, Louise Pommery was left a widow with two young children — just a year after her husband, a wool trader, had invested in the champagne business.

She developed Pommery from a small winery into one of the world’s most respected champagne Louise Pommery 2houses, buying some of the best vineyard land in the region and creating a new, dry style of champagne.

Pommery Brut Silver ChampagneUntil then, champagne had always been made sweet to balance the wine’s acidity.

But during her travels in England, Madame Pommery noticed that the British liked their wine dry with finesse, such as well-aged Bordeaux and Burgundy.

So, in 1874, she decided to make champagne with these tipplers in mind and produced the first “brut” champagne.  Pommery eventually became one of the top exports to the British market.

In tribute to her success there, she used neo-Elizabethan architecture to build the grand Pommery estate, over which she presided for thirty years.Pommery Noir Brut

Pommery Winery

The house of Laurent-Perrier was developed in much the same way, when Mathilde Emile Laurent-Perrier took over the winery that her husband, a former barrel cooper, had founded.

She ran the company for thirty-eight years, from 1900 until her death in 1938.

After that, another widow took over: Marie-Louise de Nonancourt, sister of Victor and Henri Lanson who produced champagne under their own name.

Together, the Madames Laurent-Perrier and Nonancourt laid the foundation for Laurent-Perrier to grow from sales of just 38,000 bottles a year to more than seven million, making it the fourth largest producer in the world.Pommery Caves

Pommery Cellars

Continue Part 3 of The Merry Widows of Mousse

Read More

The Merry Widows of Mousse: Champagne Widows

They were all young women whose families owned the great champagne houses at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When they lost their husbands to war or illness, they did not do what was expected: step aside or sell the business.  Nor did they marry again (though they were still in their twenties and thirties), handing over the reins to a new husband. Instead, these celebrated veuves, or widows, took control of their châteaux to produce some of the most prestigious wines in the world – wines that still bear their names: Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Laurent-Perrier, Roederer and […]

read more …

Read More

Top 5 Turkey Wine Pairings: Bottles for the Big Bird

In the second part of our holiday wine series on the CBC radio drive-home shows coast to coast we chatted about great wines to pair with your turkey dinner. You can listen to my tips above on choosing those wines plus my top 5 picks. Join us again next week, on December 30, when we chat about great sparkling wines for the New Year. Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site, selects her top five wines for your holiday dinner to pair with turkey and the side dishes:   Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava Penedes, Spain A toasty […]

read more …

Read More

Which Wine Pairings for turkey, fruitcake or cheese?

The holiday countdown is on and Canadians are scrambling for last-minute gifts for their hosts and loved ones. Wine and food seem like a natural option at this time of year, but with thousands of bottles lining the shelves at liquor outlets, where does one begin? “I’d start with pairing the wine that you’re going to bring to go with the dinner. Wild guess, might be turkey,” says sommelier Natalie MacLean, editor of the wine review site nataliemaclean.com. She suggests a sparkling wine like Cava from Spain, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand, a dry rose from France or a […]

read more …

Read More

Sparkling Wine for New Year’s Eve versus Champagne

Most people think of champagne as the drink of choice to ring in the New Year. But when the price of one bottle averages $60, you might want to consider sparkling wine, which offers great taste for a fraction of champagne’s price. Although champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, almost every other region of the country and many countries around the world produce sparkling wines, often using the same techniques and grapes as champagne. Most sparklers are a blend of the traditional champagne grapes—Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Like champagne, they’re labeled according to their dryness, […]

read more …

Read More

Gift Wines and Wines for Turkey Dinner: Global Morning Show

Rosie, Anthony and I chat about great gift wines and wines for turkey dinner and the holidays on Global Morning Show. Get your custom shopping list of great wines showing the stock for each bottle at your closest liquor stores, including lots of Canadian wines. (A delivery of such didn’t make it to the studio in time.) Posted with permission of Global News.

read more …

Read More

How to Write a Wine Review: Tasting Notes that Tell a Story

Each week, I issue a challenge to those who post reviews on our site. If you’d like to get the latest challenge when it goes out, please e-mail me at natdecants @ nataliemaclean.com. How Would an Historical Figure Talk about the Wine? Choose anyone you admire from the past, whether famous or not, and let them tell the reader about the wine. Even better, set the scene and discuss the wine with that person in a little dialogue. For example, I’d choose Dorothy Parker, one of the wits at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City in the 1920s. […]

read more …

Read More

Toronto Sommelier at Four Seasons Pours a Glass for Chef Thomas Keller

Drew Walker, wine director at Café Boulud & D Bar in Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Niagara, in Port Dalhousie, with my parents Bruce and Nancy, and my older sister Kate. Tell us about a time when your life was different? When I was 19 years old, I lived in the Caribbean and worked long hours as a bartender in a great little bistro in the Cayman Islands. It was my first experience in the food and beverage industry, and it shaped me quite a lot.  I learned so much from the […]

read more …

Read More

Peanut Noodle Salad Recipe Paired with Sparkling Wine

Peanut Noodle Salad Recipe by Courtney Flood This dish is a good go-to for me. I love the myriad of flavours in peanut satay sauce and I could eat almost anything that has it slathered on. It’s also a good way to use some fresh veggies you might have on hand. I used cucumber and carrot, but you could also use cabbage, zucchini, green onion, bell pepper, bean sprouts, peas, etc. You could also top with grilled chicken, pork, or beef if you are a meat eater. Ingredients: 1 large English cucmber 2 large carrots ½ small onion, thinly slice […]

read more …

Read More