We’ve muddled through too many tipsy brunches with bottomless mimosas, where cheap cava is barely masked by a splash of apparently freshly-squeezed orange juice. So seeking to upgrade our “bubbles” IQ, we arranged a chat with Gaelle Goossens, Winemaker at Veuve Clicquot – one of the longest standing Champagne houses in France (in the city of Reims, to be specific).
According to Gaelle, “one woman changed it all: back in 1805, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin took over her late husband’s Champagne business at the young age of 27, and changed the industry forever.” In fact “Veuve” means “widow” in French; and because of his death she was able to run the Clicqout house by herself, according to French law, and in the process revolutionized the business.
Goossens enthuses that she was, “one of the world’s first businesswomen!”
Madame Clicquot actually created and trademarked the brand’s legendary yellow-orange logo, which is now number 137c on the Pantone scale. But certainly more impressively, even sparkling rosé all day can be attributed to Madame Clicquot.
How did she do that? By creating practices that are now standard in Champagne making, including “remov[ing] sediment to make Champagne clear, and in the assemblage process, which mixes red and white wine to create a beautiful, balanced rosé.”
Positioned as Veuve Clicqout is under the LVMH umbrella, beside exalted fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Fendi, Champagne may seem like it’s merely a luxury. But we posed five pointed questions to Mlle. Goossens, who proceeded to lead us down the path of edification on just how to enjoy the subtly sparkling beverage any day, every day.
What Makes Champagne….Champagne?
Champagne makes up less than 1% of wine in the entire world. Because true Champagne is only created in a small region of France, it means that only a minuscule portion of the world’s wine can truly be classified as Champagne.
What Glasses Should be Used for Drinking Champagne?
Flutes are not the best way to enjoy Champagne. Although they are very festive, they do not do it justice. Winemakers recommend drinking from a white wine or tulip shaped glass to allow it to breathe. Most people forget that Champagne is a wine with elaborate tasting notes, that need room to be fully enjoyed.
Should One Drink That Bottle of Veuve Immediately?
Good Champagne is an investment piece. High quality vintage-dated Champagne, such as Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2008, can age 15+ years if properly stored in a dark temperature-controlled environment. The end result is a Champagne that develops more complex notes of dried fruit, honey, and toasted flavors.
Isn’t Champagne Prohibitively Expensive?
You can buy luxury for less, if you do it right. Buying Vintage Champagnes is a great way to try a “nicer,” more unique bottle of wine without spending an exorbitant amount. You can also opt for a house’s prestige cuvee (the best of the best), but that will usually come at a higher price point.
Can Champagne be Too Fussy?
Too clean can be a bad thing. One of the best parts about Champagne is the bubbles! If you use a dishwasher to wash your wine glasses, you might end up seeing less bubbles than you would if you hand-wash. The dishwasher tends to work too well and creates a slick surface on the glass, making it more difficult for the iconic bubbles to form.