A few years ago, I spent the better part of a day at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France, roaming the underground cellars (caves, really) and at the venerable Widow’s Mansion. Thankfully, you don’t have to freeload your way to Reims in order to enjoy the fine Champagnes of Veuve Clicquot because Utah offers a good selection of them. Here in Zion, you can buy almost everything Veuve Clicquot makes, with the exception of rare, small-production gems like Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé, which would set you back a mortgage payment, anyway.
Veuve means “widow” in French and Veuve Clicquot is named for a remarkable woman, Nicole Barbe Ponsardin, who, in 1798, married Francois Clicquot. Madame Clicquot became a widow at 27, when she took over her late husband’s business. Her story is a fascinating one. Among other things, she invented riddling, the process of clarifying Champagne used by most sparkling wine producers today. In 1814, she even defied Napoleon’s blockade by sending a clandestine shipment of Champagne to Russia.
The most common—and most popular—of the Clicquot wines is Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV. It’s a nonvintage Champagne with the distinctive orange-colored label the shade of egg yolks. It’s made from two-thirds black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and one-third Chardonnay in a classic style—full-bodied and complex, with a wonderful citrus-y crispness. The price for Clicquot Yellow Label runs from $29 for a 375ml. split to $300 for a party-size 3-liter bottle. A standard-size 750ml. bottle normally costs $50 but is on special this month for a few dollars less. It’s wonderful when paired as an aperitif with Gruyere cheese puffs called gougeres. For you fashionistas, Veuve also offers Yellow Label NV Brut in a stylish neoprene bottle “diving suit” that’s portable and oh-so-chic. It’s got top-stitch seams and leather trim—a tailored, insulated cooler bag with a side zipper and functional neck strap. Ensconced in the ice jacket, your chilled bottle of Veuve will retain its temperature for about two hours—perfect for a picnic or camping, bargain priced at $50.
For very special occasions, it’s hard to beat Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame ($150), a prestige cuvée Champagne made from very limited quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Grand Cru vineyards. La Grande Dame is the most elegant of Clicquot’s wines, and the current vintage has a lovely floral scent and tastes of white peaches, toast and walnuts. Nothing against Dom Pérignon, but this is the wine you want at your wedding.
Also available here in Utah are Veuve Clicquot’s wonderfully dry Vintage Brute Rosé Reserve ($80), which is wonderful with a cheese course, and the slightly sweet Demi-Sec ($29), which makes for a very stylish aperitif and a perfect match for creme brulee. Veuve’s nonvintage Brut Rosé—one of my favorites, along with Roederer’s—sells for a bit less than the vintage variety, priced at $60.
A word of warning from Veuve Clicquot: There is a promotional deal making its way around the Internet regarding an offer of a free six-bottle case of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. It’s a hoax; don’t fall for it.