Introducing Veuve Clicquot Champagne

Veuve Clicquot featured photo

Location: Saint-Nicaise Hill, Reims

When was Veuve Clicquot founded? Veuve Clicquot was founded in 1772

Who founded Veuve Clicquot? The Champagne House was founded by Phillippe Clicquot-Muiron.

Winemaking Designation: The winemaking designation for a Veuve Clicquot bottle is Négociant-Manipulant. The French champagne house grows its own grapes and buys some from long-term contract growers.

Veuve Clicquot Vineyards

How many vineyards does Veuve Clicquot have?

Veuve Clicquot owns a total of 971 acres of vineyards. The acreage is divided between 12 of the 17 Grands Crus and 20 of the 44 Premiers Crus that make up the entire Champagne region.

Where are the vineyards?

Veuve Clicquot’s magnificent vineyards are spread out all over the rich soils of the Champagne region. Their Grand Crus are tended in the communes of Verzenay, Verzy, Bouzy, Ay, Louvois, Abonnay, and Oger. 

The Premier Crus are grown in the communes of Pargny-lès-Reims, Villers-Marmery, Ville-Dommange, Avenay-Val-d’Or, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Villeneuve-Renneville, and Vertus.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Crus constitute Saint-Thierry, the Côte des Bar trail, Troyes, Sézanne, Vitry-le-François, Montgueux, and Les Riceys.

The Maison of Veuve Clicquot vineyard is made up of 47% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, and 17% Pinot Meunier. To soak up the benefit of shallow soil and the best sun exposure, the vines are typically grown on gently sloping hills.

The areas where the vines are grown are determined based on the criteria set by Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC): sun exposure, soil, slope, and subsoil.

Growing Practices at Veuve Clicquot

Are they organic or biodynamic?

With respect for the environment in mind, the Champagne House uses only organic fertilizers. Most of Veuve Clicquot’s vineyards cut out weeds by placing grass strips between each vine row. They also do this by mechanically trimming under the vines without the use of pesticides.

The Champagne House’s enduring dedication to sustainability traces back to the early 90s. From wastewater treatment to selective waste sorting, Veuve Clicquot strived to take an active approach to sustainable viticulture. In 2002, the House unblocked its carbon footprint objectives.

Two years later in 2004, they earned an ISO 14001 certification. In 2006, the Champagne House started working on eco-friendly packaging. Between 2007 and 2009, they introduced the use of rainwater as well as renewable energies.

Veuve Clicquot has long been focused on seeking ways to employ organic materials in its basis of being ecologically conscious. In fact, they created their first Champagne packaging from potato starch in 2013.

Veuve Clicquot gained Viticulture Durable in Champagne Certification in 2014. In 2018, the Champagne House achieved 0% herbicides and 100% sustainable viticulture. It’s also the same year they introduced their first package made from grape skin.

Any special growing techniques used?

The Maison of Veuve Clicquot understands that growing and maintaining grapevines is a labor-intensive process that requires a lot of care and attention—thanks to its 100 winegrowers who have mastered the various aspects of viticulture and winemaking.

Tending over 280,000 plots, each grape plot for a grape variety is carefully selected according to the condition of the soil, climate, and sun exposure. The on-site growers cut and trim and tie or train the vines to trellises or wires in order to manage their shape and growth.

With strong regard for the environment and their dedication to sustainable viticulture, the Maison of Veuve Clicquot maintains the quality of the soil through organic fertilization. Healthy soil means less weed growth around the vines, minimized erosion, and balanced nutrition of the vines.

Come picking season, only the perfectly ripe grapes are harvested. This ensures the right balance of sweetness and acidity.

It takes at least a team of 45 people to harvest from each acre. The precious fruits are hand-picked and are then transported to their press houses.

Winemaking at Veuve Clicquot

Who is the winemaker?

Oenologist Bruno Dagnée has been in charge of development and innovation at Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin since 2019. Prior to becoming the wine innovation project manager at the Champagne House, he was a trainee oenologist.

Dagnée is not only in charge of looking after the Champagne House’s winemaking processes, but he is constantly on the lookout for new ways to preserve the distinctive characteristics of their wine.

What types of wine-making techniques do they use?

To the Maison of Veuve Clicquot, the origin of the grape is important. The winemaker processes grapes depending on which plot they come from. This helps introduce more flavors and allows the grape varietals to express their characteristics.

Before the blending process, the vinification processes for each grape variety and cru are done separately. Doing so opens the opportunity for the winemaker to explore a range of possibilities.

After pressing the fruits, there’s a 24-hour time frame given before adding the natural yeast to the must for fermentation. But before they add the yeast, the cellarmaster tastes the must from the grape varietals to decide the right blends for them.

Following 8 to 10 days, the sugars should turn into alcohol, and “still wine” is produced. And this is where the blending process starts.

Every year, there’s an assigned blend or cuvée, whether it’s a reserve wine or vintage champagne. And, they don’t use wines that don’t meet the quality standards of the Champagne House.

What comes after the blending process is the bottling and temporary sealing. This is where the second fermentation process occurs, in which all the sugars get converted into alcohol. Such a phase is also where the coveted bubbling effervescence of their Veuve Clicquot champagnes forms.

The bottles are then aged in the ancient chalk pits of Reims. These cellars are the perfect place for maturation due to high humidity and a steady temperature of 50-54°F. Depending on the type of wine, they may be aged on the lees for 5-7 years. Their non-vintage wines are usually aged on the lees for 30 months.

After the aging process, “remuage” or riddling comes. Just like any Maison in the Champagne region, the cellarmasters turn and tilt the bottles to drive the lees or sediment into the neck. This makes those sediments easier to remove.

The neck where the lees settle is then frozen to -15°F in saline solution. It then becomes a plug of ice that holds the lees, making it easy to push the sediments out of the bottles.

Fun fact: In 1816, Made Clicquot, or Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot, the widow of Philippe Clicquot, first introduced the riddling table method for purifying champagne.

After disgorgement, the cellarmaster then adds the dosage. It’s basically a finishing touch known as the liqueur d’expedition before the final corking. Here’s where they add a mixture of reserve wine and sugar. This process tells how sweet the Champagne is.

The bottles then sit for another few months, allowing flavors to fuse and develop. Once the bottles are clear of sediments, they’ll be ready for labeling.

The Wines at Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot (vuvh klee-koh in French pronunciation) crafts a range of Champagnes, with one being predominantly Pinot Noir. Most of their cuvées are aged for 3 years minimum while some of their collections are matured twice to achieve strength and aromatic complexity.

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut – 30-45% reserve wines with grape varietals from 50 to 60 different Crus; 50-55% Pinot Noir, 28-33% Chardonnay, and 15-20% Pinot Meunier. This brut Champagne is aged in the Maison’s Crayères for 3 years to develop silkiness.

Extra Brut Extra Old – This cuvée is a collection of unique blends of their prestigious old reserve wines. Made for true wine aficionados, this cuvée is aged twice. It’s aged for several years in vats on fine lees, then 3 years in the cellars before disgorgement. The lengthy maturation gives lends a unique texture and rich aroma.

Rosé Champagne – Has 30-45% reserve wines with grape varietals from 50 to 60 different Crus; 44-48 % Pinot Noir, 13-18 % Meunier, and 25-29 % Chardonnay. This blended rosé champagne has its base on the brut yellow label’s traditional blend. To add a hint of fruitiness, it has 12% still red wines. It’s aged 3 years to achieve its silkiness.

Champagne Demi-Sec – Made of no less than 50 individual wines; 40-45% Pinot Noir, 30-35% Meunier, 20-25 % Chardonnay. This cuvée includes 30-45% reserve wines to achieve the consistency of the Veuve Clicquot style. It has 3 years of maturation to develop silkiness and contains 45 grams per liter dosage.

Veuve Clicquot Rich – This collection is made of 45% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay; Rich Rose has 15% Pinot Noir. This Veuve Clicquot champagne contains a dosage of 60 grams per liter.

Vintage Brut 2012 – Here’s the 66th vintage of the Maison made of varieties Grands and Premiers Crus: 51% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, and 15% Meunier. This Veuve Clicquot brut has an added 11% wine matured in large wooden barrels, which adds aromatic complexity and powerful flavor.

La Grande Dame – This is a collection of cuvées that pays homage to Madame Clicquot herself. It’s made from predominantly Pinot Noir at 90% and the remaining 10% is Chardonnay, which comes from the Grands Crus. It’s aged in the cellars for 15 years and contains 6 grams per liter dosage.

Visit Veuve Clicquot

The doors of the Maison of Veuve Clicquot are open for visitors wishing to explore the cellars, taste the wines, tour the vineyards, and enjoy good food. You can book a visit online or arrange a private event at St Pétersbourg or Manoir de Verzy.