Thursday, January 15, 2009

Champagne ...then and now !

After my first post on my Tuscan tour, I fully intended to share more about that marvelous trip. But I am detouring slightly to cover part of a previous trip. And thus I will make mention of my visit to the Champagne. Only because Harper Collins, the publishers in New York, send me a copy of the book The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo to review. I had the pleasure of a private tour during the 2005 vendange, again with my friend Sanjoy from California, and with that background it made this book that much more meaningful.

The Champagne house of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin is truly a must visit establishment and those of you who have been there will agree with this I am sure. The limestone cellars, which have been there since Roman times, are a treasure house of works of art. If you follow this link it will take you to the Veuve Clicquot website. There is an age verification before you can actually visit the site and just a little hint for those of you from Canada ( and yes we are a bilingual country) if you do not speak French, use the USA country of origin. The good people at Veuve have assumed if you are from Canada you must be able to speak French and the French version is what will present itself. We had a wonderful, knowledgeable young lady give us a most interesting tour and at the end of it, we had the pleasure of being served the La Grande Dame. Like Dom Perignon, I thought I was seeing stars.
The archives at the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin reveal very little of the remarkable widow Clicquot. Their website gives only sparse details about this brilliant business woman. But Tylar Mazzeo has done an incredible amount of research for her book.
Tylar is also very well versed in anything wine related and the book is liberally sprinkled with wine facts, especially about Champagne. For instance, did you know that in those early days, Champagnes were very sweet and had upwards of 200 to 300 grams of residual sugar? These are woven into the story and makes the history of the widow Clicquot come alive and the book almost reads like a novel and personal diary at the same time. This book is certainly a must read for all Champagne lovers out there. It is a tribute to the widow Clicquot Ponsardin and her marvellous determination and entrepeneurship. I believe Veuve Clicquot should host a major book signing event with Tilar Mazzeo present. She has contributed immensely to the story of the Veuve Clicquot with this fascinating, well written book. Publishers Harper Collins have just added another great book to their long list of excellent books.


Cathryn Ravenscliff said...

Kudos to you, Wilf, for being acknowledged by the publisher as an expert and a valuable source of information! CHEERS to ya!

*Cathryn toasting Wilf - with a wadingpool - sized glass of Veuve Clicquot, bien sur*

So can you perhaps give us the ISBN of “The Widow Clicquot” Wilf?

Carl Brown said...

You know... I was just going through my mail and had all these 'wine club' offers. I thought, "Huh. Nice. But, who are these people?"

What if Wilf had a wine-of-the-month...? It'd be fun to just get a bottle of wine you picked (maybe 2 bottles) that showed up every month with your review of it...

So, I realize the logistics of that are daunting and more than you want to do. But, what if you hookedup w/ some wine store (, etc..) and provided a link? I know how to click that and I can just 'order a bottle or case' at a special Wilfs Wine Club Discount!

yummm.... Good Wine at a discount!

Wilf G.K said...

Cathryn, thank you once again for your kind words. I am just reading another book for a review and will add it to another post. Wading pool sized glass sounds absolutely fantastic. A little past what my budget allows. Is that what they mean with "Champagne tastes on a beer budget?" The Widow Clicquot ISBN # 978-0-06-128856-2

Carl, your idea sounds inviting. Just before Christmas I actually had an offer from an internet company to do a slightly different version of that. I am still considering some option. Two problems come to mind for me. First of all as you have noticed, I do not review wines on my blog. I reserve that for my newsletter which is more local in distribution. Reason for that? Because any wine I might write about is available to us here but not likely to be available to people like yourself who are far away. Secondly we here in Canada are so restricted in internet wine sales and particularly shipping out of the province. So combine the two and you have a logistic problem of availability. But thanks for stimulating some thoughts for me. You are the man with more expertise in that field.
Thank you for your comment.

Carl Brown said...

Thanks Wilf. It's funny because I buy 90% of my wine @ Costco. The other 10% is special-order when I find something I really like.

Then, I see Wine.Woot and other things and I go, "now... Is this good wine? Cause I don't get to drink wine often enough and I don't want to blow my wine-drinking time on something bad..."

But, at least if you 'recommended' it -- I'd have someone to blame when I didn't like it! :) Gives us something to talk about, "That Wilf... I don't taste any plums in here!"

Anyhow -- keep writing!

Best wishes.