I have always been a big fan of champagne. I am about 80% girl. I mean girly girl. Trust me when I say I can be a good guy too, in that I can take out the trash and know how to use a drill and a hammer and I know what a wrench is. And while I know how to change a tire I would prefer to let someone else do the dirty work. Hence the girly girl part. So bubbly is naturally my favorite spirit. I love it’s bubbles, I love it’s warm golden color, I love the tall slender flutes with long stems it is best served in. I love that it’s French and that it has to be afforded the time to come into it’s own. Much like a woman. I love that it’s delicate yet hardy, much like a woman. And I love that it can turn any mundane day into a celebration, much like THIS woman. I remember a few years ago, my friend Gina coming to visit me in Ca. She was always my champagne cohort and as we settled into our seats at Houston’s for dinner and a long awaited catch up, we ordered a bottle of Schramsberg to which the waiter responded, “oooh what are we celebrating?” Gina and I looked at each other and said “It’s Tuesday!” He hesitated and walked away, I am sure quite confused, but there in lies one of the differences between men and women, or at least the women in my life. We don’t need a reason to celebrate (or to drink Champagne, although the two often go hand in hand). We just celebrate life because we can. Even when it's crappy. And we should. And Champagne makes that possible.
Now if I have my Druthers, my favorite Champagne, and I mean that in every sense of the word, is Veuve Clicqout. It is French, which makes it a real Champagne, not a sparkling wine made in the méthode traditionnelle. I am fond of the taste and for some reason unbeknownst to me I have always been drawn to the rich, golden yellow of the labels. And I have always had a fondness for the round face and pink cheeks of the Widow herself that graces the cage on the top of the bottle. So when Borders was going out of business and I was stocking up on books, I ran across a bio on the Widow Clicquot by Tilar J Mazzeo and having just finished it, I am more enamored than ever. What an amazing woman. What an amazing story. What an inspiration. This woman was fearless and tenacious and fantastic. She took the hand life dealt her, which in any time period would be challenging much less in the 1800’s when women were not exactly looked upon as capable, and knocked it out of the park. Not only did she turn a small family business into what is now one of the foremost Champagne houses in the world, she was on the cusp of huge changes in the way the world did business and the birth of international markets.
|Photo courtesy of Napa Style|
I fell in love with Riddling Racks a few years ago and always wanted one in my home. They are big pieces of wood typically in an inverted V shape with holes drilled in both sides. The bottles are stored upside down to allow the sediment to collect in the neck before corking. This process makes for the clearest champagne. Come to find out, in a pinch to find a way to clarify Champagne more quickly so as to beat her competitors to market, Barbe Nicole turned her table on it’s side and basically invented the racks that were used for years and years in this integral process. I almost fell off my bed when I read that. Not kidding when I say I am blown away by this woman and her story. While I will not ruin it for you, I highly recommend you pick up this book. And be sure to pop a bottle of the Widow to enjoy while you her story, I am sure she would approve. In the meantime, you will find me at the VC Polo Classic again this year at Governor's Island. Who wants to join me?