N/V Veuve Clicquot Brut
Decanter | 94 DEC
Toasty and generous with lemon freshness, this also has quite some dried-pear and peach aromas from mature elements of the blend, plus a touch of spice at the long, structured finish. The cuvée is based on 2015 and is 50% pinot noir, 30% chardonnay and 20% pinot meunier. Reserve wines make up more than one third of the blend. Drink now.
James Suckling | 92 JS
(roughly 50% pinot noir, 30% chardonnay and 20% pinot meunier; Lot 14009913): Light gold. Musky orchard fruits and dried fig on the mineral-accented nose. Fleshy and broad on the palate, offering smoky pear and nectarine flavors and a hint of honey. Finishes on a gently spicy note, with very good cling and a touch of bitter lemon pith. Things have definitely begun to turn around for this bottling, which had been lagging behind the winery’s vintage offerings for some time.
Vinous Media | 90 VM
This fresh and balanced Champagne is lightly toasty, with snappy acidity and a lively, creamy mousse carrying flavors of white cherry, pickled ginger and Marcona almond. Offers saline-laced minerality.
Wine Spectator | 90 WS
One of the most popular of all Champagnes, this is now showing a freshness that wasn’t always there. The crisp texture and green-apple flavors give it an immediate drinkability as well as perfumed acidity and a vibrant aftertaste. Drink this bottling now.
Wine Enthusiast | 90 WE
Brisk lemon-lime flavors and floral apple clarity lend this wine its freshness and mineral-tinged refreshment. It smells like chalk, then the flavors are enriched by toasty brioche and spiciness from the lees aging. Simple and saturated, finely made in a grand-marque style.
Wine & Spirits | 90 W&S
Wine Details for N/V Veuve Clicquot Brut
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: Nothing like a refreshing, vivacious glass of fine Champagne during a hot summer afternoon. Typically combining Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, each Champagne house has a distinct style. Whether you want to sample a single varietal (such as the 100% Chardonnay blanc de blancs) or a tasteful blend, no region can compete with Champagne.
: Proprietary Blend is a general term used to indicate that a wine is comprised of multiple grape varietals which are either “proprietary” to the winery or is blended and does not meet the required maximum or minimum percentage of a particular varietal. This also is the case for the grape’s place of origin, especially for region, appellation or vineyard designated wines. There are endless examples of blended wines which are labeled as “Proprietary Blend” and in conjunction with each region’s stipulated wine laws and regulations makes for a vast blanket for wines to fall into. Perhaps the simplest example is California; if a wine is to be labeled as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, it is required to have at least 75% of the varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon) and 85% of the fruit must be cultivated from the Napa Valley wine district. If the wine does not meet the requirements, it is then labeled as Proprietary Blend.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: The sharp, biting acidity, cutting through the richness; the explosive force that shatters the bubbles as they rise to the surface; the intense flavor and compelling, lively mouthfeel; these are all hallmarks of a good Champagne. Most wines are made from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, but there are pure-Chardonnay variants and ones that blend only Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. As a result, most wines come with a feeling of familiarity, if not nostalgia. Each Champagne house has its own unique style, so different bottles of Champagne may not resemble each other outside of the core varietal strengths. The soil composition of the subregion is characterized by belemnite and chalk, which lets it absorb heat during the daytime and release it at night. This terroir helps create the feeling of airy, playful lightness of fine sparkling wine.
These wines were originally marketed towards royalty, and you can feel a hint of that elusive blue-blood elegance and confidence while drinking one. A good Champagne carries you away like a hurricane carries small debris, and you can feel the powerful life force in each bubble even. The characteristic Champagne "pop" has become a staple at parties and celebrations around the globe - when you hear it, good times are right around the corner.
: The modern day Maison of Veuve Clicquot possesses one of the finest Champagne vineyards in the region, both in size and the quality of its vines. Its success can be greatly attributed to the “Widow” Clicquot (widow translates to “Veuve” in French) who took control of the small, under-performing family vineyards after the sudden passing of her husband and transformed them into an empire. Its rise to fame is a story of perseverance, courage and cunning in the eyes of defeat. Today the unmistakable yellow label represents the finest quality, is recognized worldwide and has become the badge of honor for one of the most popular brands on the planet: Veuve Clicquot.
If not for the keenly intelligent, determined and savvy Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (the Widow Clicquot), the luxury Champagne house of Veuve Clicquot would not exist today. After her husband’s untimely death in 1805, Barbe-Nicole remained determined to fulfill his dream of developing an international Champagne brand. She convinced her father-in-law and successful textile businessman, Philippe Clicquot, to fund the operation; to which he agreed under the condition that she would apprentice in the wine industry and learn from the ground up. She did what was required, learned the business inside and out and then went about finding ways to produce the finest wines and market them outside of France.
Before long, shrewd business tactics were taking Veuve Clicquot to new heights, though not without its challenges. The Widow decided to focus her attention on the Russian market, which at the time was delighting in the French wines and conveniently, at the epi-center of international trade. Unfortunately, the naval blockades incurred during the height of the Napoleonic Wars had crippled commercial shipping. In her prudence and perhaps, daringness, Barbe-Nicole, managed to smuggle the vast majority of her best wine out of France as far as Amsterdam, where it waited for war to cease. As soon as peace was declared, the shipment made its way to Russia, beating her competitors by weeks. Soon after her champagne debuted in Russia, Tsar Alexander I announced that it was the only kind that he would drink. Word of his preference spread throughout the Russian court, which was essentially ground-zero for international marketing.
The next challenge was mass-producing the wines to meet consumer demand, but second-fermentation and transferring the wines from bottle to bottle to eliminate “dead yeast” (bi-product of the process) was time-consuming and wasteful, not to mention damaging to the wine with its constant agitation to the bubbles. Barbe-Nicole, in her ingenious, devised a method that kept the wine in the same bottle and gently agitated the wines by turning the bottles upside down and rotating them, collecting the yeast in the neck of the bottle. This revolutionary method, called “riddling” caused frustration among the house’s competitors, as they were unable to compete with the expedited process. The method was kept secret for a long time, but would eventually be replicated; it is still used among the top producers in the region. By the time of her death in 1866, her and her late husband’s dreams and aspirations had come to fruition and Veuve Clicquot was exporting Champagne to the far reaches of the world.
Today, 95% of Veuve Clicquot consists of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines; the vineyards spanning an impressive 390 hectares over 12 of the 17 Grand Crus and 24 of the 41 Premier Crus. From the appellations of La Montagne de Reims to La Vallee de la Marne to La Cote des Blancs to La Cote des Bar, the vines of Veuve Clicquot flourish in the region’s exceptional terroir and benefit from the hilly topography, cool temperatures and regular, moderate rainfall. The vines are situated perfectly to collect as many of the sun’s rays as possible, while the roots are forced to find their own strength in the poor substrate. The result is ripe fruit which then undergoes a rigorous selection process, as the house motto demands, “Only one quality, the finest.”
The region’s top three varietals, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are cultivated at Veuve Clicquot and are the source of their incredible line-up. The wines of Veuve Clicquot are renowned worldwide and include the crazy-popular Brut Yellow Label and La Grande Dame, Extra Brut, Rose, Demi-Sec, Clicquot Rich and the numerous vintage Champagnes (another revolutionary idea of the Widow). Veuve Clicquot accounts for 1.5 million cases on the world market each year. An impressive feat and one made possible by a young, determined and savvy woman, and the house’s continuous demands for quality.