Veuve Clicquot celebrates 200 years since pioneering blended pink Champagne

Last week, Veuve Clicquot celebrated 200 years since Madame Clicquot created a pink Champagne by blending red and white wines.

Manoir de Verzy

In 1818, Madame Clicquot did something that was revelatory at the time in Champagne – she added some red wine to white to create a rosé, spearheading an approach to pink fizz making what would become the norm across the region 200 years later.

And while one might imagine that Veuve Clicquot should mark this milestone year with another innovation, in fact, the maison has added nothing new to the range, except the addition of its Brut NV rosé in a larger format – it is now bottling the blend in Jeroboams.

A decision by Clicquot not to create anything new in 2018 is a rather fitting mark of respect for an innovation that perhaps can’t be improved upon in the Champagne rosé category – very few to this day use the saignée method of pink winemaking which sees the colour taken from the skin of red grapes rather than adding red wine to create a rosé.

Cellar master Dominique Demarville with a jeroboam of Veuve Clicquot rosé.

But for those who attended the 200th birthday of blended rosé in Champagne last week, the celebration centred on Veuve Clicquot’s red winemaking expertise, drawing attention to an area of Champagne creation that is increasingly important, as it has a significant impact on pink Champagne quality.

Indeed, Clicquot proved the quality attainable in red winemaking in Champagne by serving throughout a day of tastings a range of still red wines that spanned 62 years (none of which are available commercially).

The oldest was a remarkable red wine from the 1955 vintage, using Pinot Noir grown in Bouzy in Champagne, which was served at Clicquot’s Hotel du Marc to pair with a blanquette de veau and black truffles prepared by Joel Robuchon himself, who had been flown in from Hong Kong for the occasion.

Some of these still red wines hailed from Clicquot’s prized Clos Colin, which contains a plot of 26 year-old Pinot Noir that consistently produces Clicquot’s best reds – wines with a deep colour and dense tannic structure by Champagne standards that are used to make the brand’s flagship rosé vintage cuvée, La Grand Dame (as well as its best still reds, which are aged in Burgundy barrels and served to guests at various events).

The event as a whole highlighted an increasingly Burgundian approach at Clicquot, as the house puts more emphasis the best sites for red grapes in Champagne, managing around 30 hectares of its 350ha estate purely for the production of still red wines.

To cement an association between red winemaking in Burgundy and Champagne, a day of celebrating Madame Clicquot’s innovation finished with a glass of Pinot from the Côte d’Or – a 2009 from Domaine du Clos des Lambrays, a property that was bought by Clicquot parent company, Moët Hennessy, in 2014.

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