Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne Yellow Label NV

Pale straw yellow color; citrus, lemon on the nose; sharp citrus, pear, green apple, bread on the palate.

Racy acidity, very dry, medium body, full and round flavors; nice complexity, especially lively, clean, crisp, fresh. Retains complexity through a finish that includes a final bite of lemon. Vigorous, tiny, persistent perlage.

The Clicquol House traces lineage to banker Philippe Clicquot in 1772 when he decided to make wine from some vineyards he owned. In 1805, six years after his marriage, Philippe’s son, François, died, leaving the estate to his 27-year-old wife, Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot née Ponsardin. Madame Clicquo had wealth in her own right; her father was a textile manufacturer, politician, and hotelier—Napoleon and Josephine stayed in his hotel and Napoleon later made Baron Ponsardin mayor of Reims.

Madame Clicquot quickly decided she would retain the estate and become a winemaker; she also decided to focus the estate strictly on Champagne. In 1810, Madame Clicquot became the first maker of vintage Champagne in the region. In 1816, Madame Clicquot invented the first riddling table—Champagne is made clear by turning and gently shaking the bottle while it undergoes second fermentation in the bottle. The technique allowed for drier, cleaner wine with smaller and more persistent bubbles. The French declared Madame Clicquot “La Grande Dame” of Champagne. She died in 1866 at age 88.

In 1877—100 years after Madame Clicquot’s birth—Clicquot registered its distinctive yellow label, still a distinguishing feature today. By 1909 the house was known as Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin; veuve is the French word for “widow.” So Veuve Clicquot means “Widow Clicquot” Champagne.

LVMH (Moët-Hennessy—Louis Vuitton) acquired the house in 1986-1987. In 2010 an amazing find was discovered in a shipwreck off Finland’s Aland Islands—47 bottles of Veuve Clicquot that had spent almost 200 years at the bottom of the Baltic Sea; the contents were well preserved.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne Yellow Label NV has the largest distribution for $50-plus Champagne in the U.S. You can find it at stores ranging from quality wine shops to Sams Club. Enjoy Champagne royalty. $50-61

Veuve Clicquot website

Second photos: Madame Clicquot; Veuve Clicquot Winery; Veuve Clicquot vineyard