The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

By Tilar J. Mazzeo

Veuve Clicquot champagne epitomizes glamour, sort, and comfort. yet who was once this younger widow-the Veuve Clicquot-whose champagne sparkled on the courts of France, Britain, and Russia, and the way did she upward push to famous person and fortune? within the Widow Clicquot, Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to lifestyles for the 1st time the attention-grabbing lady at the back of the long-lasting yellow label: Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin. a tender witness to the dramatic occasions of the French Revolution and a brand new widow in the course of the chaotic years of the Napoleonic Wars, Barbe-Nicole defied conference by means of assuming-after her husband's death-the reins of the fledgling wine enterprise they'd nurtured. guidance the corporate via dizzying political and fiscal reversals, she grew to become one of many world's first nice businesswomen and one of many richest girls of her time. even supposing the Widow Clicquot remains to be a legend in her local France, her tale hasn't ever been advised in all its richness-until now. Painstakingly researched and skillfully written, The Widow Clicquot presents a glimpse into the lifetime of a girl who prepared clandestine and threatening champagne deliveries to Russia at some point and entertained Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte on one other. She used to be a bold and made up our minds entrepreneur, a daring probability taker, and an audacious and clever lady who took regulate of her personal future whilst destiny left her near to bankruptcy. Her legacy lives on at the present time, no longer easily throughout the recognized product that also bears her identify, yet now via Mazzeo's finely crafted e-book. As a lot a desirable trip throughout the means of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered girl, The Widow Clicquot is completely intoxicating.

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In 1821, she had bought an awesome 280,000 bottles of champagne; now, precisely ten years later, her overall revenues have been right down to fewer than 145,000 bottles—far below Jean-Rémy may possibly boast at any time within the 1820s. If she desired to recoup her losses and proceed on the head of 1 of the world’s nice champagne homes, Barbe-Nicole must paintings to recapture her place. Now, she must start rebuilding the company, once more, in the course of political turmoil. the commercial concern of 1829, which just about introduced down the Clicquot financial institution, was once simply a symptom of bigger difficulties, and simply as within the years previous the bloody Revolution of 1789, determined financial conditions have been resulting in anger and motion.

Earlier than lengthy, he wrote: “I have already in my portfolio [orders for] a brand new attack in your caves. ” BarbeNicole was once prepared for them. She was once ready—and then a few. What got here after these first few moments of incredible excitement, rereading Louis’s letter with information of her triumph, was once a sickening experience of aid. the key gamble she had taken was once a long way, a ways higher than a person had identified, and it was once adequate to maintain even the main hardheaded businessman—or businesswoman—up at evening in a panic. Now, it'll make her good fortune extra attractive than her opponents may perhaps think.

It'd be a longer honeymoon, an opportunity to begin a kinfolk for a guy who had spent a lot of the prior five years faraway from domestic. Barbe-Nicole welcomed the chance to have Louis shut to hand in the course of the early months of her new solo management. the opposite salesmen will be again at the street instantly, bringing in new orders at the same time the final enterprise of Veuve Clicquot Fourneaux and corporate was once resolved. Louis, even if, will be capable of propose, and she or he will be at relaxation to speak 88 THE WIDOW CLICQUOT via her plans with this reliable—and undeniably expert—employee, simply as she had heard François do in that lengthy summer time prior to his dying.

The most fascinating is Eileen Crane, president and winemaker of Napa’s Domaine Carneros, whom I first visited due to a curious little bit of corporation historical past. Domaine Carneros was once based within the Eighties through the champagne condo as soon as run via Barbe-Nicole’s first company companion, Alexandre Fourneaux—now often called Champagne Taittinger. I visited Domaine Carneros on a hot, transparent October afternoon. till you force throughout the vineyards of wine kingdom within the weeks after the weigh down, you may overlook that this nook of California has foliage to rival the again lanes of my local New England.

In different letters, he begged his son to fight depression and consume good. there has been a darker part to François’s ebullient character that his mom and dad knew merely too good. the results of all of it was once that the belief in their son dealing with the trials of warfare despatched them right into a panic. Philippe used to be wanting to find a fashion out of the army for François, and his son’s enthusiasm for the provider basically nervous him extra. quickly they have been stuck up within the energy fight that turns out to have defined their dating. His father was once a coolly rational guy who, with the simplest of intentions, should have undermined his son’s confidence through wondering François’s attribute zeal for each new plan.

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