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December 27, 2009

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A little bubbly offers more than just great taste

WITH 2010 fast approaching I thought it opportune to suggest the perfect drink to bring in the New Year. What else but Champagne! Made from one or more of three grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, Champagne is one of the world's greatest wines and unquestionably the greatest sparkling wine. The region of Champagne has been making wines for over 2,000 years but it was only in the 17th century with the help of monks that bubbles first appeared in Champagne. Since then, the world has fallen in love with the alluring bubbly wines of Champagne. This New Year, whether you are a super successful career person or aspire to be, there are compelling reasons why you should drink Champagne. Here are some intriguing stories on the famous women and men who have made or loved Champagne to share with family and friends as you welcome the New Year.

Widows of Champagne

If you are a working woman who competes with men and excels in business then certain Champagnes must be part of your New Year celebration. Why? Because some of the earliest and most famous business women of Europe were the widows of Champagne. Not only did they compete in what was then very much a man's world, but their accomplishments far exceeded the men of their time. The most famous woman of Champagne was the widow Cliquot. In 1805, at the age of 27, her husband died and left her with a baby and a struggling Champagne house. Despite having no prior business experience, she discovered new ways to make Champagne and pioneered new markets. By the time of her death in 1866, Veuve Cliquot was one of the biggest and most successful businesses in Champagne. To honor this great woman, try the refined and stylish vintage La Grande Dame, Champagne made in her honor. Another accomplished widow of Champagne was Louise Pommery who in 1858 at 39 years old took over control of the Pommery winery. She developed one of the first truly Brut or dry styles of Champagne.

Another role model for the modern business woman is the widow Lily Bollinger, who took control of the great Champagne house Bollinger in 1941. World War II (1939-1945) devastated many Champagne producers but through the fortitude and sagacity of the widow Bollinger her business not only survived but thrived. I'm a huge fan of Bollinger, Special Cuvee, one of the best non-vintage Champagnes.

Manly celebrations

Champagne is not only for women, in fact many great men adored Champagne. Winston Churchill was said to drink Champagne on a daily basis and left us with several memorable quotes. In World War I, he addressed the English troops by saying "Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!"

One of my favorite quotes on Champagne was made by English writer John Meynard Keyes who said shortly before he died, "my only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne."


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