Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin wrote about Madame Clicquot in his famous work "Eugene Onegin". You can find references to her in Gogol, Chekhov, as well as in the classics of foreign literature. Champagne produced by Madame Clicquot has always been famous for its exquisite taste. But, this lady did not take up wine of her own free will.
In 1798, a young French woman named Barba-Nicole Ponsardin, the daughter of a textile manufacturer, married François Clicquot, the son of a famous winemaker. But the family happiness of the young spouses was short-lived, François died in 1805, leaving his widow an inheritance in the form of a champagne factory. Barbey-Nicole was only 27 years old at the time, but she took over the management of the company. Moreover, it began with improving the quality of products.
Realizing that the quality of raw materials plays a decisive role in this, Barba-Nicole Ponsardin-Clicquot decided not only to expand the area of vineyards, but also to grow only the best varieties on them. In addition, early 19th century champagne was cloudy due to a large amount of yeast. Veuve Clicquot found an original way to solve the problem: the bottles were stored on special sloping racks upside down. This was called "remuage". The sediment accumulated in the neck and flew out under high pressure when the bottle was opened.
Barba-Nicole Clicquot fought to expand the market for her champagne. She sent her representatives to all major cities in Europe and the United States. If in the early years of Clicquot's reign, the company produced about 100, 000 bottles of the drink a year, then at the end of the entrepreneur's life seven times more.
For some time Madame Clicquot managed to keep secret the production technology of her unique champagne. But, all the secret someday becomes apparent. At the end of the twenties of the XIX century, the secrets of manufacturing became known to competitors, who also began to use the remuage method in production.
Recently, a bottle of Veuve Cliguot sparkling wine was discovered in one of the Scottish castles, which was corked more than 100 years ago, in 1893. It is now the oldest known sparkling wine in the world. At the end of the nineteenth century, the wine cellar belonged to the banker Arbuthnot Gethry, who probably acquired a bottle of wine, which, after years, became a rarity.
It so happened that representatives of the elite in the Russian Empire became one of the main consumers of Clicquot's products. Even before the war with Napoleon, about a quarter of all production was sent to Russia. Clicquot's personal representative resided permanently in St. Petersburg, who was involved in the supply of champagne, including for the Russian imperial court.
It was only during the Patriotic War that relations between Russia and France deteriorated, and official deliveries were disrupted. But Madame Clicquot also found a way out here, champagne was supplied illegally through neutral countries. The restrictions were lifted in 1814 and the first legal party after the war entered St. Petersburg. Despite the very high price for that time, 12 rubles per bottle, champagne was sold out instantly. The Russian Empire remained among the largest consumers until 1917.
And nowadays the cost of Madame Clicquot champagne is high. This is explained by many reasons: a careful selection of high-quality raw materials, the limited territory in which grapes of the desired varieties grow, plus the costs of storage and salaries of the best tasters. As a result, a drink is obtained, the taste of which fully justifies its "astronomical" cost.
Muzlet is the name of the wire that holds the cork in the bottle. The length of this wire on the champagne bottles of Madame Clicquot was 52 centimeters. There is a legend that for the first time Madame Clicquot used her own garter for stockings to strengthen the cork in the neck. Whether it is true or not, the length of the muselle of 52 centimeters has been preserved.
Interestingly, a champagne cork can fly up to a height of 12 meters, and the take-off speed can reach 100 kilometers per hour. This happens if the bottle has been in a warm room for a long time, and it was thoroughly shaken before opening.
Barba-Nicole Clicquot-Ponsardin lived a long life. After the death of her first husband, she no longer married. The "queen of winemaking" died on July 29, 1866 in her own castle in the Marne department in northeastern France. She was buried in the North Cemetery of the city of Reims in the family crypt of Clicquot-Ponsardin. Madame Clicquot loved to repeat the phrase that there is only one quality of champagne - the highest. Everything else is just muddy wine.