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Book Review: The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J Mazzeo 14/03/2009 (TNB)

This book dropped through my letter box a few months ago. It's not a bad read if one is interested in wine history although I would have to say the author does not strike me as the most natural writer. The subject is very much the Widow herself and her building of the large Champagne business is certainly a remarkable story. There does not seem to be a lot of contemporary sources relating to her rather than the business and so in the modern way we get a lot of fictional embellishment: "the bitterness in the Winter air matched her mood precisely". Possibly it did, but it's hard to know without any evidence.

There is quite a lot on the history of Champagne. People are often surprised to find that the move to making Champagne a dry wine was largely prompted by the British market and that the English invented Champagne as a sparkling wine while the famed Dom Perignon spent his working life trying to avoid secondary fermentation in bottle. The historical research feels sound to me although I do wonder about the author's credentials on Champagne as a drink. Many visitors to this site will raise an eyebrow if they read that "Some of the finest are aged [on the lees] as long as seven or eight years, After disgorgement it is a different matter. Champagne rarely improves with additional cellaring, and there is cause to celebrate the expert advice: Drink it promptly."

Article added to Fine Wine Diary 14/03/2009   Return to top