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The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It
The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It
The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It
Audiobook9 hours

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

Written by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



About this audiobook

Veuve Clicquot champagne epitomizes glamour, style, and luxury. But who was this young widow-the Veuve Clicquot-whose champagne sparkled at the courts of France, Britain, and Russia, and how did she rise to celebrity and fortune?

In The Widow Clicquot, Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life for the first time the fascinating woman behind the iconic yellow label: Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin. A young witness to the dramatic events of the French Revolution and a new widow during the chaotic years of the Napoleonic Wars, Barbe-Nicole defied convention by assuming-after her husband's death-the reins of the fledgling wine business they had nurtured. Steering the company through dizzying political and financial reversals, she became one of the world's first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

Although the Widow Clicquot is still a legend in her native France, her story has never been told in all its richness-until now. Painstakingly researched and elegantly written, The Widow Clicquot provides a glimpse into the life of a woman who arranged clandestine and perilous champagne deliveries to Russia one day and entertained Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte on another. She was a daring and determined entrepreneur, a bold risk taker, and an audacious and intelligent woman who took control of her own destiny when fate left her on the brink of financial ruin. Her legacy lives on today, not simply through the famous product that still bears her name, but now through Mazzeo's finely crafted book. As much a fascinating journey through the process of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered woman, The Widow Clicquot is utterly intoxicating.

Editor's Note

A champagne empire…

A must-read for any wine enthusiast, this essential oenobiography details the rise of a champagne empire, with one of history’s most fascinating, fearless female entrepreneurs at its helm.

PublisherTantor Audio
Release dateApr 20, 2009
The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

Tilar J. Mazzeo

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and nearly two dozen other books, articles, essays, and reviews on wine, travel, and the history of luxury. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time between coastal Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Reviews for The Widow Clicquot

Rating: 3.9523809523809526 out of 5 stars

42 ratings17 reviews

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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Very engaging, interesting story of a 19th century businesswoman and champagne magnate. Great for readers of womens' and wine history. I agree that there is a lot of speculation about Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin's inner life but Tilar Mazzeo tells a great story and very well.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    I'll never drink a glass of champagne the same way again. This was an interesting look at a female entepreneur in the early - mid 1800's, a time when most women were nowhere to be seen in public life. There is some interesting stuff about the development of champagne but it is more about her extraordinary life.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    The subtitle is all the synopsis anyone needs: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It.Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin was born on the eve of the French Revolution. Her wealthy father read the signs of change and positioned himself to ride the wave, saving his textile business, his homes, his fortune and his family. When Barb-Nicole was of age, she married Francois Clicquot, the only son of another wealthy textile merchant, whose family had begun to dabble in wine. As fate would have it, Francois died before his vision was realized, but his young widow took over and cornered the market before anyone realized what she was doing. The dynasty she built remains today as one of the premier champagne houses. The author, in an effort to not misrepresent, frequently qualifies statements with “perhaps” or “might have.” Mazzeo herself writes about this lack of information. It is a surprisingly thin biographical record, considering Barbe-Nicole’s celebrity and accomplishments, and writing this book has been an exercise in the oblique. … I wanted to discover not just what she did and when she lived, but how she was able to imagine for herself a different future and how she was able to negotiate those familiar crossroads of grief, despair, and opportunity.I appreciate that Mazzeo was stymied by scarce records, few (if any) letters or documents that would support a definitive and declarative portrait, and that she wanted to produce a work of non-fiction, not a fictionalized biography. But the result, in my humble opinion, is a book that gives me facts but never brings the lady at the center of the story to life. I love champagne, though I admit to never having sampled Veuve Clicquot. I also love reading about strong, independent women, especially when they were clearly ahead of their time. But I was bored for much of this book. I wanted more of Barbe-Nicole, herself.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    This was pretty dry reading (pun intended), but I did learn a lot about one of my favorite drinks: Champagne.

    Barbe Nicole Poussardin Clicquot was born during th French Revolution to a very well off family who for obvious switched sides during & after the revolution.

    It wasn't until after she was married that she & her husband began dabbling in wine making.

    Champagne was Not "discovered" by Dom Perirgnon...most ALL wines vinted in the area of Champagne France had bubbles due to climate conditions. Dom Perignon was trying to find a way to get rid of the bubbles. Later, bubbles were added in a second fermentation process by including more yeast & sugar to the already fermented wine.

    Champagne was originally a dark color and a very sweet dessert wine.....

    Champagne is made from only 3 types of grapes.....

    Vintage refers to the fact that all the grapes used came from the same harvest

    The sweetness or tartness indication is opposite of still wines. A tart still wine is labeled "Dry". Whereas a tart Champagne is labeled Brut or Natural. A "Dry" Champagne is sweet.

    I knew much of this information prior to reading the book, but it was interesting to know the history of the process. The history part was rather boring and written in an over scholarly style for my taste.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Truly fantastic story about the woman behind the most iconic champagne!
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    I found this book intriguing, especially if I regard it as an overview of 19th century France seen through the lens of Reims and champagne as it became an actual industry. The book is never dull or dry, but fascinating all the way through. Where it falters, though, is on the strong focus on the Widow Clicquot--not because she is uninteresting, but because the author had little factual material about the subject. The book--indeed, entire chapters--are based on guesses about where Clicquot was at the time or what she might have witnessed. To the author's credit, they are always quite clear about that line between primary source material and supposition.That said, I still recommend the book because the history and the region are wonderful to explore. I can't help but think that the Widow would lend herself well to a historical fiction novel.