Celebrating 200 years of Veuve Clicquot Rosé22. März 2018
A truly unique big bottle tasting
For my 16ht birthday I wished for nothing but Veuve Clicquot Rosé for my guests. It shows pretty clearly how desirable this champagne is, but it turns out Veuve Clicquot is much more than a fashionable birthday drink. 200 years ago Madame Clicquot blended the first Cuvée of Rosé. International press and bloggers were invited to celebrate a party in pink in the center of Champagne, Reims. Let me take you with me on a tour through the fabulous world of Champagne Veuve Clicquot.
I've met Chef de Caves Dominique Demarville at another tasting before and I remember him telling me that he composes the yellow label out of over 2000 base wines. The goal is to have a signature style champagne that tastes identical every year, which is why old vintages are kept to blend with young ones. It's almost impossible for me to imagine how one can remember such a variety of wines nevertheless combine them to something so delicious.
Veuve Clicquot classroom tasting base wines
We got a taste on how to blend the perfect champagne, when we were brought to a Veuve Clicquot classroom and tasted the base wines ourselves. The Veuve Rosé is brought to life by blending champagne with just a touch of red wine, however the amount is a crucial factor for the perfect balance in the wine. As little as a 1% more or less of red wine makes the difference, so Veuve uses 12, 13 or 14% of red wine for their blends – little for the classic Rosé and more for their prestige cuvée named La Grande Dame that only comes in Millesimé. The exact quantity of bottles is a well-kept secret, but obviously they are selling millions and millions of bottles and need a highly professional team in the background to accomplish a good quality for such a large quantity. The wine making team consists of 11 people, the responsibility is separated by the grapes, for example one person is in charge just for the red wine, someone else just for Chardonnay.
It's my third trip to Champagne with LVMH (after Atelier Dom Pérignon and Dom Ruinart) and what always impresses me most is their unbelievably professional way of working and organizing tastings that are more impressive and luxurious than most people's weddings. The setting for this celebration was entirely dipped in the colors of Veuve Clicquot Rosé, bright yellow and apricot rosé – from the flower arrangement to the rubber boots we received in our hotel room. You can't really ever go wrong with a glass of Rosé, because it goes perfectly with a light starter just as with red meat or chocolate fudge. We were spoiled with a menu by the world's best chef Joël Robuchon, who really took wine and food pairing to the next level.
We kicked off with a Grand Dame 2006 as an Aperitif and a Vintage Rosé 2008, both of them filled with aromas of caramel, however the 08 was slightly richer, more salty and fresher. It was Dominique Demarville's first year with Veuve and the champagne turned out beautifully and easy to drink. You must know that during the entire day we were served with nothing but big bottles, all of them were either Magnum or Jeroboam size. Since this event was all about Rosé, we tasted the Bouzy red wine from 1955 (!) which is normally used to blend the champagne. The wine was somewhat brownish, almost see-through but still complex and heavy in fruit. It tasted more like a burgundy wine than champagne - how interesting! Veuve Clicquot owns six pressing centers around the region, which gives an idea of the size of their empire. For desert we had a so-called Rich Rosé, champagne on ice that gives you a sugar rush – I am clearly attending a blogger event.
As our hotel is located in the center of Reims we had a little walking-tour through the city and went to dinner in Verzy later. The dress code for the evening was Gentleman Farmer, which meant more casual than for lunch (considering the fact that the waiters wore white gloves and the cook owns 30 Michelin stars), I am guessing it's still quite fancy. I was right. The location was owned by Madame Clicquot, the event was illuminated in bright pink, the backyard was decorated with a dozen of lanterns and we had lobster (which was seriously to die for).
We kicked-off with a classic rosé and later had a Grand Dame 2004 and 1990 (both Jeroboam). The 04 was almost airy, ever lighter than the 06 we had before and the 1990 was filled with a wonderful taste of orange. It had a very clean taste, a lovely freshness and an earthy after taste filled with candid fruits and a mineral touch – truly a unique experience for any champagne enthusiast!
Since LVMH recently bought Clos des Lambrays in Burgundy, we had a 2012 as a surprise. Rumor has it the winery cost over 200 million Euro. At first the wine was incredibly closed and not easy to enjoy, however it opened up a little bit later and indeed had a signature burgundy character: the grapes speak the language of a gloomy, foggy weather, but the taste is crystal clear. Monsieur Demarville is clearly pleased with the wine and seems somewhat proud of the new acquisition, obviously he loves the Burgundy style wines.
Veuve Clicquot is much more than its image, the Grand Dame wines are truly amazing and much underrated. They go perfectly with aromatic food and are of timeless beauty. Merci beaucoup for this gorgeous trip and happy birthday, to another 200 years filled with sparkles and bubbles!