The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

May 22, 2010

By Tilar J. Mazzeo (Published 2009)

This well researched non-fiction book tells a fascinating story of one of the early champagne tycoons, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin. As the daughter of a prosperous Reims merchant, she married into the Cliquot champagne family. She found herself widowed at a young age and took charge of the cellars, improving the process of making champagne and turning the family business into a very successful venture, an unusual task and accomplishment for a woman in the 1700s. In times when women were not part of the business world, she cleverly ran the business via her German secretary Louis Bohne, confidant of her late husband. Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin took a gamble by exporting her wines to new areas of the world, even hauling her fragile cargo over the frozen rivers of Russia. She correctly predicted the popularity of champagne in czarist Russia, which was ready to celebrate their victory in the Napoleonic wars. Today Vueve (widow) Clicquot is the official champagne of White House state dinners. A great book for lovers of the history of brave women pioneers and bubbly alike.

Reviewed by Library Staff