Dame of Champagne

Aug 14, 2012

mmeclicquotg.jpgThe year was 1814 and the wealthy elite of Russia was about to celebrate the removal of Emperor Napoleon from the throne of France. What does every good party need? Champagne of course! 

Barbe-Nicole Cliquot, head of the Veuve Cliquot champagne business, decided to gamble. Despite the heavy blockades and precarious seas, Cliquot sent 10,500 bottles of champagne to Russia for their celebration. When the shipment finally hit land in Konigsberg, the true test came: would the sweet champagne be ruined by the voyage? No!  When the bottles popped open, Cliquot started a worldwide love of bubbles and Tsar Alexander claimed he would never drink any other spirit again.

Gutsy you say? You have no idea.  Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin was a young woman of twenty when she married Philip Cliquot, heir to a family business involved in banking, trading and champagne production. Her leisurely bourgeoisie life was all planned out. But when Philip died of Typhoid fever in 1805 Barbe took over the company and became one of the worlds first recognized businesswomen. 

Under widow (‘Veuve’ in French) Cliquot’s direction, the company concentrated its efforts solely on champagne production. Barbe was a master in the business and even helped create a technique called riddling which involved turning the bottles in order to achieve the right balance of bubbles and sugar in the wine. Her tenacity was unparalleled and she took great pride in expanding her empire through land acquisition and the hiring of agents who represented her brand worldwide.

 The Madame Cliquot died an enormously wealthy woman in 1866. Her brand and vision remain true today and as her contemporaries have so aptly stated, “…she holds sway over every bottle sold by Veuve Clicquot, reigning over an empire of bubbles appreciated by all connoisseurs of excellent champagne.” CHEERS!

Category: Biographies

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