All Articles
All Articles

Celebrating Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin's 2009 Grape Harvest

by Evan Orensten
on 03 November 2009

Like Miami during Art Basel or Milan during Fashion Week, the town of Reims, France was buzzing with activity during its most important two weeks of the year—the vendange, or grape harvest. Last year Veuve Clicquot invited us to Reims to learn what happens before the vendange (check out our CH video); this year they invited us back (along with our friends from Notcot, Yatzer, Frizzi Frizzi, and Materialiste) to help with the harvest itself.

You probably already know that the method for making Champagne is used around the world, but only sparkling wine made from three varieties of grapes (pinot noir, chardonnary and pinot meunier) grown in France’s Champagne region can be called Champagne. Efforts are being taken to certify the area as a UNESCO-protected region (Saint-Émillion and the Loire Valley are also certified), which will further enhance the cultural, physical and commercial roles the region plays.

Our trip included visits to many of Veuve Clicquot’s facilities and vineyards, including its beautifully renovated Hótel du Marc, (below). The 1840 manor has been part of Veuve Clicquot’s heritage for more than a hundred years, and is among the first of its age to be completely overhauled with 21st century environmentally-friendly systems. We also toured the cellars and a pressing center.


On a perfect Sunday morning we woke up early and headed to the Manoir de Verzy, which overlooks one of the more than 400 vineyards owned by Veuve Clicquot. This grand cru vineyard is where grapes for La Grande Dame are grown. After picking the grapes we went to the nearby pressing center, where we watched our grapes be pressed. The juice of grapes from each variety and field is stored separately in steel vats, where it goes through its first round of (malolactic) fermentation.

When the wines are ready they are blended by the cellar master and his team to craft the various Champagnes the house produces. If it’s a good year—and from what we learned, 2009 looks to be a very good year—some of the wine is blended only with other wine from the same year, with hopes of making a vintage Champagne. Some of the wine is always reserved to be used for blending in years to come, further ensuring the flexibility to maintain consistency. Rose wine is made at this stage by blending in red wine from Veuve Clicquot’s own grand cru wine from its Bouzy vineyards.

Once blended the wine is poured into bottles and sugar and yeast are added to start the secondary fermentation. Bottle caps are put on, and the wine is put in the cellar to age. Fermentation, over time, creates the carbonation. During this period the bottles are gently turned and angled downward, fractions at a time. At one time this was only done by hand, but today some of the work is done by machine. This process, known as remuage was forever changed by one of Madame Clicquot’s inventions—the remuage table (see below). During this time the yeast is gradually forced into the neck of the bottle, where it remains until it is decided that the Champagne is ready.


When the cellar master decides that the Champagne is ready to be shipped, the bottles are disgorged—they are quickly opened, and the pressure from the fermentation spits out the yeast and sediment. The Champagne is then dosed with sweetened liquer de dosage, made from the Champagne and sugar, which creates the type of Champagne that will be sold, Brut, Extra-Brut, Sec, Demi Sec, or Doux. The bottles are then corked, labeled, packed and brought to a warehouse, where they will settle for two months before being shipped and enjoyed the world over.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community
Loading More...