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Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin

In 1772, the banker and wool merchant Philippe Clicquot-Muiron founded a wine trade under the name of Clicquot. This was the origin of one of the first and most famous champagne houses. Son François Clicquot (+1805) married Nicole Barbe Ponsardin (1777-1866) in 1798, the wedding took place in style in a champagne cellar. Representatives were sent to Russia in 1802 to boost exports. After the early death of her husband, the young widow took over the business and named it "Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin" (Veuve = widow). This perfectionist woman also inspected her wine cellars at night to keep an eye on developments. She is often regarded as the first entrepreneur of modern times, her champagne was delivered to all European rulers and princes' courts. Around 1815, her cellar master Antoine de Müller succeeded in inventing the revolutionary bottle shaking, the so-called Remuage by means of shaking desks (Pupitres). Legend has it that the madame sacrificed one of her pieces of furniture for the first appliance of this kind. Until 1821, Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin was the only company to use this new method.

Nicole Barbe Ponsardin (1777-1866) um 1860 - alle Champagner-Formate

Madame Clicquot-Ponsardin was also the inventor of the rosé champagne, until then only whiter was produced. The design of the yellow label for vintage champagne, which is still used today, was also created by her. In 1814, Madame had the cellars bricked up because she feared plundering by the Cossacks and the Prussians, who occupied the town several times between March and May. On 13 March 1814, while the French troops were liberating the town, Napoleon (1769-1821) stayed at the house of Madame Clicquot's brother. A few days later 10,000 bottles of champagne were sent to Russia. At that time, the import of bottled wine was still prohibited in Russia. She surprised the competition, no other house took this risk. But in July the champagne crossed the Russian border and the brand's success took its course, as demand was overwhelming. After the death of the widow in 1866, the company was bought by Édouard Werlé and remained in the possession of this family until it was sold to the LVMH Group in 1987. The champagnes are mainly made from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties from the company's own vineyards in the village of Bouzy. The Cuvée de Prestige in white and rosé, named in honour of the Madame, is called "La Grande Dame".

Veuve Cliquot-Pnardin - Champagnerflasche und Käseplatte

Near Åland, a group of islands at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia, which belongs to Finland, the wreck of a Swedish two-masted sailing boat was discovered by divers at a depth of 50 metres in July 2010. They found 162 bottles in the area, 145 of which were later identified on the basis of the bottle shapes and corks. A total of 79 were still closed and as it turned out later, they were still edible. They were champagne from Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Heidsieck and (the no longer existing brand) Juglar, as well as four bottles of beer among them. One Veuve Clicquot was found to date from 1839 (in some sources other numbers). On the first dive a bottle of Veuve Clicquot was taken upstairs where the cork shot off with a loud bang. It had held under water for so long because the pressure conditions at 50 meters depth with five bar corresponded approximately to the pressure in the bottles.

Divers were the first to taste this historic drink. According to analyses they contained 140 g/l sugar (dry champagnes today have ~15 g/l, sweet aged from 50 g/l). This corresponded to the taste of that time in France and Germany. So the delivery was probably not intended for Russia, where champagne was drunk much sweeter with up to 300 g/l. The Sommelière Ella Grüssner Cromwell-Morgan remarked: "The champagne had a bouquet of ripe fruit, golden raisins and a touch of tobacco. Although it was so incredibly old, it tasted wonderfully fresh. The sweetness was perfectly integrated with the acidity

The Veuve-Clicquot Champagne House was informed of the discovery and specialists who had arrived to re-cork the bottles. Some of the bottles were auctioned on 3 June 2011 in Mariehamn (capital of Åland) at an auction by the French auction house Artcurial. One of them fetched a price of $ 46.640 (€ 30.000), others $ 15.000 to $ 30.000. It is one of the most expensive wines in the world, as well as one of the oldest wines, which (in this case after about 170 years) was not only edible, but also tasted very well!

Based on this find, the Champagne House has started an interesting experiment. Under the project name "Cellar in the Sea", hundreds of different brands of champagne from the company in Methusalem (6l = 8 bottles) and Magnum size (1.5l = 2 bottles) were sunk 40 metres below sea level in a large wire cage near Åland (the depth guarantees freedom from algae and a uniform temperature of 4°Celsius). The same brands or bottles are also stored in a cellar in Reims for comparison purposes. For over 40 years, individual bottles of champagne have been brought up again and again and tasted in comparison with those in Reims. Veuve Clicquot wants to learn more about the maturing process of champagne.

Nicole B. Ponsardin: By Léon Cogniet - unknown, in the public domain, link
Bottle sizes: From Photo by Wnissen, Public domain, Link
Bottle & Cheese: By Renzo Grosso - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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