Since I started to drink champagne, I was interested to learn more about the brands and houses. Finally, I had the pleasure to have private tours around Reims, France. My first house was Maison Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ( VCP) .
It was the first champagne brand and vintage I ever drank!
It all started meeting our guide in front of the head quarters of VCP. The same place it all started back in 1772 when the Cliquot family created the House.
The guide started with a short explanation of the family tree of VCP and then took us around the city to special locations of the Ponsardin family along with the history of matriarch – Madame Barbe Nicole Ponsardin- Clicquot.
For anyone who has not heard of her, she was not the house founder but the daughter in Law of Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, Barbe Nicole married to François Clicquot in 1798 but 12 years later he died.
Barbe became a widow ( Veuve in french) and single mother at 27 years old but it didn’t stop her from taking over the family business. She accomplished many things despite the sexism of the era and greatly contributed to the evolution of champagne production, marketing and distribution methods.
My husband and I had the pleasure to visit the Hotel Du Marc, a hotel with 6 bedrooms reserved only for VIPs by invitation. It used to be the residence of Madam Clicquot’s adopted son. After this stop we headed for the visitor centre. Once there we visited the caves and learned more about the champagne method and how the house processed their vintages.
I learned that Madam Clicquot transformed champagne from a sweet, cloudy, flat drink to one that we see in today’s method of making clear, crisp champagne.
In 1811 comet vintage of Veuve Clicquot is theorized to have been the first truly “modern” Champagne due to the advancements in the méthode champenoise which Veuve Clicquot pioneered through the technique of remuage
After the historical and industry changing tour information, we then entered the private tasting room which was decorated in a summer, beach theme. Here we tried the Non Vintage Veuve Cliquot and the Vintage La Grand Dame 2006.
Definitely drinking champagne in the Champagne Region makes a big difference because the product and ambiance felt authentic, was served at the right temperature, with the right glass, all with the energy of the widow surrounding us.
A experience for a lifetime for sure!