Do you love Veuve Clicquot champagne? Are you always on the hunt for that distinctive yellow label? Well, if you do, you might be interested to know that one of the best-selling brands in the world became that way because of a ballsy widow, forced to make her way in the world after the death of her hubby when she was only 27 years old left her with a failing business.
Indeed, the “Widow Clicquot,” Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, took some huge risks to build a business during the most tumultuous political and financial times. In 1814 during the war, she risked humiliation and utter financial ruin by shipping her exquisite 1811 vintage champagne to Russia – having to pass through a military blockade to do it. Fortune favors the bold, however, and her shipment arrived and her champagne ruled the Russian market for decades.
She also innovated the process of making Veuve Clicquot champagne, developing with her colleagues, a method of clarifying, known as “riddling,” which allows the sediment to gather in the bottleneck so it can be easily removed, leaving nothing but clear and sparkling bubbly.
The Grand Dame of Champagne was also responsible for some of the greatest marketing innovations in the industry, some of which still hold fast today. Perhaps you’ve seen the bright yellow label standing out on the shelf? The reason it stands out so well is that when considering how to make it so, Madame Clicquot was eating an egg for breakfast and noticed the deep yellow yolk of the egg as it contrasted starkly with the egg white. She loved that yellow yolk color and adopted it for her label, and the Veuve Clicquot brand can be readily seen from across any room because of it!
Learning to Succeed
Madame Clicquot’s example provides so many lessons. Be brave, be bold, believe in yourself and take action. And it never hurts to have good taste. The one belief that has never changed through the years of marketing one of the world’s finest champagnes came from Madame Clicquot herself. “Only one quality, the finest.”
With that kind of vision, tenacity and good taste, it’s clear (not from riddling!) that Veuve Clicquot remains the Champagne Queen. The next time you see the Veuve Cliquot Yellow label think of the wonderful lady who started it all.
If you’d like to learn more about Madame Clicquot you can read all about it in the book The Widow Clicquot: The Story of A Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It. It’s a real page-turner.
THE QUICK BITE: From a young widow on the edge of bankruptcy, gutsy Madame Clicquot created an empire and became the Champagne Queen.
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