The Champagnes of James Bond and Rappers: Bollinger and Cristal

Part 2: Champagne Widows By the 1930s, French winemakers faced even greater challenges: a country about to go to war, a worldwide Depression that made running any business difficult, and U.S. Prohibition, which made selling luxury champagne to the lucrative American market almost impossible. This was the forbidding business environment that Camille Olry-Roederer stepped into when she took over the champagne house Louis Roederer after losing her second husband in 1932 (her first husband had died in World War I). Sales were 264,000 bottles that year, compared to 2.3 million bottles in 1876. But like the other women of Champagne […]

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Veuve Clicquot Champagne: Riddle Me This!

Above: 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. Veuve 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 […]

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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 […]

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Like Father, Like Daughter: Nicolas and Laura Catena

Continued from Part 3 of Argentine Wine The Catena Alta Malbec Cabernet we’re drinking smolders in the glass. Its sultry edge is more enticing than the sweet, soupy international style of many brand name grapes. Nicolás believes that drinkers are shifting away from the herbal flavors of Cabernet and turning more toward wines like Malbec (and Syrah, Tempranillo, and Grenache) that have fleshy dark red fruit and violet flavors. Blending Malbec and Cabernet grapes is still traditional: “These blends give us French elegance and Latin passion,” as Nicolás explains. However, he no longer believes that Malbec needs Cabernet Sauvignon—or any […]

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Men Versus Women Winemakers: Battle of the Bottles?

In honour of International Women’s Day #IWD2014, I’m posting this piece that I originally wrote for the LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine on women winemakers. Several of the women have since changed positions, but they are still in the wine industry and more importantly, the issues raised remain. Do women have any natural advantages when it comes to making and tasting wine? Are they still a minority in the industry, and if so, why isn’t that changing? What does the future look like for young women entering the field? In my personal quest for answers, I’ve judged the National Women’s […]

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Are Women Better Wine Tasters Than Men?

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, but are we on two different planets when it comes to tasting wine? Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, at Yale University School of Medicine, discovered the super taster phenomenon in 1999, along with the fact that women are more than twice as likely to be super tasters than men. To test her theory, Dr. Bartoshuk dipped a thyroid medication on study participants’ tongues to test their sensitivity to bitterness. Based on the results, she divided the population into three groups: non-tasters with limited palates (25%), tasters with average palates (50%) and super tasters with […]

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