Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's in My Glass Wednesdays! Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut

What can I say about Veuve Clicquot?  This is one of those Champagnes I'm willing to spend money on, and it's still less than a bottle of Dom Perignon.  I'm not quite sure why Americans only like to drink sparkling wine during celebritory moments, but I'm definitely a bubbly drinker (have you noticed the past "What's in My Glass Wednesdays?").  I really enjoy it - it's refreshing - it can be dry or sweet, simple or complex, fruity or bready/yeasty - whatever you desire - and it goes well with oh so many foods!

I picked a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to celebrate a special occasion.  (Trust me, I'm usually grabbing for a less expensive bottle of bubbly these days...)  But I thought it was worth writing up.  Because when that moment comes when you want to enjoy a real bottle of Champagne, this is an easy one to fit in the budget!

The history of Veuve Clicquot is quite interesting.  It's actually been run by women since the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when a series of widows lost their husbands to war and disease.  In her book Red, White, and Drunk All Over, Natalie MacLean writes, "Instead of stepping aside in favor of a male relative, selling the business, or remarrying to hand over the reins to a new husband, these celebrated veuves, or widows, took control and produced some of the prestigious wines in the world."  I think it's important to remember that during that time period, women did not run businesses.  And as far as I know, women still run the business today.

The orange label is unmistakable.  I've caught it in a series of movies including the recent Just Go With It featuring Adam Sandler and Jenifer Aniston.  (It's the scene where the 4 - Adam, Jennifer, Nicole, and Dave are eating dinner in the fancy hotel restaurant.  You'll see the Veuve Clicquot flash in the background over and over again!)  And on that note...

Veuve Clicquot Brut

The D-2010 Scale 
Brut by Veuve Clicquot (Champagne, France)
Appearance (10 points possible): straw yellow with lots of bubbles - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Touches of pears, apples, citrus, and a slight hint of spice complexed with a bread-like aroma and a slight hint of toast. - 19 points
Taste (10 points possible):  Nicely effervescent, crisp acidity with bright pear and citrus flavors.  A hint of toasted bread, yeast, and caramelized crumb in the finish. Bubbles are quite refreshing, and the matching complex flavors pair nicely with the light fruit.  Wine is dry.  No sweetness detected throughout.  Fresh and vibrant, yet a layer of sophistication.  - 10 points
Balance (5 points possible): As perfect as a bubbly can be. - 5 points
Finish (5 points possible):  A hint of toast and caramelization in the finish that lingers, but is quickly lifted by the bubbles.  Very refreshing and light on the palate. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible):  Traditional label, high end bottle, the full Champagne package. - 5 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible):  The orange label sticks out.  Remember it! - 10 points
Other (5 points possible): I enjoy the fact that Champagne lingers in tradition and markets it well.  Despite the fact that many of these labels have remained the same for centuries (part of the lure of Champagne, I think), they manage to always market it towards the higher end buyer... successfully.  For this, I think the bottle deserves the extra points (and yet, I like to think I'm not bias!).  :) - 5 points
Total Points: 99 points
Overall Thought: I, of course, absolutely love this wine.  I guess this is what makes wine reviews so controversial.  Of course I will score this wine high - I like it.  But this is where I hope you, as the reader, can take something away from my writings.  I hope that maybe something I write will lure you to buy a bottle as opposed to the number I associate with the review.  This is a delicate Champagne - it deserves to be drunk at the appropriate temperature (not when the glass is condensating because the wine has been stored too long) and with those that appreciate complex Champagnes.  But I enjoy the marriage of fruit and bottle fermentation here.  Theoretically, the base wine of a Champagne never changes (unless a vintage year is marked on the bottle), so this should be the same recipe that has been around for hundreds of years.  It's almost like tasting the taste of Champagne's history.  How mystical and inviting...
Food Pairings:  I think you can pair Champagne with just about anything.  I like it with salads, breads, cheeses, difficult-to-pair foods, fried foods, heavy foods, light foods and to be honest, I more often drink it by itself more often than not!  :)
Cost: $36 to $50.  This is really going to depend on the state you live in, but again, it's worth the buy.  (I think I found that it is on the more expensive end in PA, and much less expensive in CA especially if you get it from Safeway...)
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 3 - sometimes you have to treat yourself, and how often is it that I'll post a more expensive wine that really most of us could try just 1 bottle?  It's not a $400 bottle here!
Where to buy:  Most grocery stores will carry this if you live outside of PA.  The liquor stores in PA do carry it, but be aware you will by at a higher price, and "we" believe that it tastes a little more "dead" in the bottle compared to other states where it's been purchased.  This could be based on turn around time for sales or, more obviously, storage differences among retailers and distributors.  Regardless, it's still ok to buy no matter where you live.  

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