Friday, 20 June 2014

The Widow Clicquot The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J Mazzeo

"For more than 130 years, no woman would lead the champagne house that Barbe-Nicole had built from its origins as a family business to one of the world's great commercial legends."

How remiss of me, I forgot to tell you about this book I finished a few days ago. I'd been intrigued by the cover last year and had actually bought a copy for a friend for their birthday. It took time for me to pop the cork and see what unravelled, and it was an exploration I'm glad I took.

Certainly, this is not the most sexy, exciting or engaging non fiction book I have ever read, yet it delves into a compelling story - the woman behind the brand, the widow Clicquot whose handwriting graces the bottles that so many of us, myself included, have sampled.

French champagne is one of the delights in life and this book gets into the nitty gritty of the products commercial origins amid a sea of upheaval and the bloody French revolution and Napoleonic wars.
It is undoubtedly a tale well told, however, i felt the lack of closer personal insight, due in most part to the inaccessibility of first hand accounts of the time, particularly those of a woman, and what a woman she was.

Achieving unheard of success in a tumultuous industry such as that of the vigneron is one thing, but to do so as a woman at a time when their prospects relied solely on marriage is simply astounding. In that way, Barbe-Nicole inspires fervent admiration, however the manner in which she retreated to the more accepted social norms of the time, marrying her daughter off and passing on the reigns to the males of the family, left me a little sad.

4 out of 5 bubbles, the french stuff, the only ones I drink.

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