The yellow label of the high end Champagne is familiar to most, as is the name: Veuve Clicquot, which means the Widow Clicquot. There are many widows who have become famous in Champagne: in addition to Clicquot, Bollinger and Pommery are well known, plus Roederer.
Why? Why all the widows?
As Rebecca Rosenberg vividly and passionately describes in her novel Champagne Widows, women were not allowed to own businesses– unless they came on to the property following the death o their spouse. For Veuve Clicquot, when she lost her husband in 1805, she used “Le Nez” — her extraordinary sense of smell– to turn their struggling winery into a world-class champagne house. She revolutionized champagne making by riddling to clarify the wine, be making vintage champagne, and by making the first sparkling rose.
Barbe-Nicole Clicquot wasn’t the only widow in Champagne — the Napoleonic wars widowed many women. Barbe-Nicole employed women who were made widows by Napoleon’s fifteen years of war to conquer Europe, and she came up with clever devices to export her champagne.
It’s a fun read– perfect for a soak in a bubble bath with bubbles — which is how I enjoyed some of it! It’s also a lovely read on a cold night camped at the beach snuggled in the down comforter in the van listening to the waves crash on the shore… and for a few other chapters by the fire during a snow storm at Mammoth! I admit I’m not quite done but we are going camping this weekend and I have a date with this book and a hammock! So if you’re looking for a book for spring break or bud break, look no further!
Since I didn’t have a bottle of Clicquot in the house, but I did have other bottles, I went in search of one where a woman was represented. I chose a bottle of Roederer when I learned that Champagne Roederer also has a widow in their history: Camille served at the helm of Louis Roederer from 1932 to 1975 in Reims after Léon Olry-Roederer died. She shepherded Champagne Louis Roederer through the Depression and World War II which was occupied by the Germans (learn about a book which novelizes this).
Guided by Madame Camille, Champagne Louis Roederer survived and thrived for 48 years. When she realized the importance of owning vineyards, she bought as many as she could. Today Roederer owns over 70 percent of the grapes they use, the highest percentage of any major House, which allows them greater success financially, to produce a great product, and also important to me, to be committed to organic and biodynamic grape growing, critical in a region of the world with some of the most agriculturally polluted water in the world.
Over 50% of their land is grown sustainably, organically, and biodynamically although you will never find that on the label says head of the house Frédéric Rouzaud. The same article reports that “since 2012, “all Cristal blends are 100% biodynamic”, adding that all the grapes used for the blanc de blancs and rosé are now also farmed this way, as well as the Brut Nature, which has used biodynamic grapes since its launch vintage, which was 2006.” They are the biggest in biodynamics following the 2012 purchase of property from biodynamic Leclerc Briant.
This month the Winophiles are finding about French Femmes in the World of Wine. Read the invite here.
NV Louis Roederer Champagne
- SRP $52
- ABV 12%
- Importer Maisons Marques & Domaines USA Inc.
- purchased on sale at Vons
Color: Golden, buttercup,
Aroma: So much beautiful brioche, apple danish, lemon curd, almond, marzipan,
Palate: Beautiful perlage, tickles the palate in such a pleasurable way, apple, tart, bright acidity, lemon, almond, toasted almond
Pairing: Our baked Camembert was perfect with this wine. The flavors of honey, and lavender work so well with the wine. For an extra added pleasure added a slice of strawberry on the top of a bit of bread topped with oozing baked camembert.
The baked camembert was a perfect date night delight. So easy to prepare and absolutely perfect with a good bottle of champagne.
- Slice off the top of a camembert in its basket.
- Drizzle olive oil and honey.
- Lay lavender and/or rosemary.
- Bake at 325 until bubbly.
These days, it’s not all about widows in wine in France! For more French Femmes, check out these articles from the French Winophiles:
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm sips Domaine de Marcoux Lirac La Lorentine to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
- Jeff of Food Wine Click! invites us to Celebrate French Women in Wine: Anne-Sophie Dubois
- Jane of Always Ravenous talks about Women Behind the Wine: Domaine Weinbach, Catherine Faller.
- Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog shares Champagne Louise Brison: A Tradition of Women in Charge.
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles opens Delphine Vesselle and Domaine Jean Vesselle Rosé de Saignée, Brut from Bouzy.
- Deanna of Wineivore discovers A Mathilde Chapoutier Rose for $4?
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass finds Château Larrivet Haut-Brion: A place for women in traditional Bordeaux.
- Nicole of Somm’s Table shares Cotillon Rouge and Rilletes.
- Susannah of Avvinare introduces Arnelle Cruse, A Look at the Cru Bourgeois.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares A Medieval French Peasant Dish and French Winemaker Sisters.
- Terri of Our Good Life writes Here’s to France’s Women in Wine and to Rebecca Rosenberg’s Book Champagne Widow.
- Here on Wine Predator we pair Champalou Fille’s 2020 Vouvray with French Favorites.
And join our twitter chat Sat. March 19 8am Pacific! Discussion questions:
- 8a Q1 Bonjour! Happy #WomensHistoryMonth! Welcome to the March French Winophiles chat on France’s Women in Wine! Say hi, introduce yourself, share a selfie, and a link to your blog if relevant. Remember to use the #Winophiles hashtag.
- 8:05 Q2 Today’s #Winophiles chat focuses on Femmes from France making waves in the wine world. Once only widows were allowed as writes @RebeccasNovels. Was it challenging to find a topic or wine to write about this month? Tell us! Invite with details here: https://wp.me/pj3XZ-8Nq
- 8:10a Q3 Which woman in wine from France did you choose to write about? Why did you choose her? Which winery and wine? Do you have a photo of her to share? Tell us more! #winophiles #WHM
- 8:15 Q4 In five words, can you describe your #Winophiles tasting experience this month with wine from French femmes? Please share the link to your post with us! #WHM
- 8:20 Q5 Tell us more about the woman, the winery or the wine! Please share photographs if you have them! #Winophiles #WHM
- 8:25 Q6 Did you prepare something special to enjoy with your wine? Share tidbits about the pairing, pictures, recipe link if you have one. Did you try or learn about any regional recipes? #Winophiles #WHM
- 8:30 Q7 Did you find the pairing successful? Why or why not? What did you learn? What would you pair with a second time around? #Winophiles #WHM
- 8:35 Q8 What else did you learn about the woman, the wine, the winery, or the region? #Winophiles #WHM
- 8:40 Q9 Have you visited the region or the winery? If so, please share a fun fact about the trip! Remember, we crave travel photos! If you haven’t gone yet, is it on your bucket list or do you wish to return? Highlights for you? #Winophiles
- 8:45 Q10 Do you seek wines made by women or where women play an important role in the vineyard, the cellar, or the office? Have you observed any differences in women led wines? #Winophiles
- 8:50 Q11 Any last comments or questions? Some #Winophiles received promotional copies of “Champagne Widows” by
@RebeccasNovels — any thoughts? #Winophiles
- 8:55 Q12 Shoutout to #Winophiles who participated today:
@WendyKlik @tsteffes @linda_lbwcsw @sommstable @Vignetocomm @foodwineclick @culinary_cam @CrushGrapeChron @always_ravenous @martindredmond @asiantestkitchn with host @ArtPredator
- 9a Thank you for joining us for our France’s Women in Wine #Winophiles chat today! Find links to our published articles here: https://wp.me/pj3XZ-8Nq See you next month for Easter Pairings with @Culinary_Cam.