In 1972, the year Veuve Clicquot celebrated its bi-centenary. The
Veuve Clicquot award was launched in France and Britain (awarded in
1973). The Award is now in 16 countries Austria, Brazil, Canada, China
(Hong Kong), Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan,
Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Russia. The Award
commemorates the woman who inherited the company which now bears her
The remarkable Madame Clicquot (1777-1866) is often considered the first
businesswoman of the modern era. Born
Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin, she was widowed in 1805 at the age of 27.
Veuve Clicquot ( Veuve means widow in French) defied every convention
of the day to take the helm of her late husband's small Champagne
house. She enlisted help wisely, took astute risks and made important
technological innovations (including the invention of remuage or
riddling, that leaves champagne brilliantly clear), leading the
House to world renown. Madame Clicquot's invention of riddling was
subsequently adopted by all Champagne Houses. She renamed the business
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and, against all odds, took the business to
success. She set the company's motto, 'Just one quality, the best,'
and held her employees to that motto, earning herself the title of
'La Grande Dame de la Champagne.' One of her gutsiest moves was
sending a secret shipment of Champagne to Russia (the Czars were
some of her most important customers) when Napoleonic France was
blockaded by the British Navy. Madame was not messing around!