March 28, 2011

“I now propose a toast!” A history lesson in Champagne houses

Your first toast as newlyweds should be done with some seriously luxe bubbles. We give you a brief history lesson on some of the world’s top champagne houses.

Moët & Chandon 

Claude Moët, a wine trader from a family that has resided in the Champagne region since the 14th century, founded his house in Epernay in 1743. In the 19th century his grandson, Jean-Rémy Moët, helped the house expand significantly by opening it up to foreign markets. Jean-Rémy Moët then handed the house over to his son Victor and his son-in-law, Pierre-Gabriel Chandon de Briailles: thus known from then on as Moët & Chandon.

Today, thanks to inherited tradition and know-how strengthened over the generations, Moët & Chandon is numéro un in the champagne stakes.

Veuve Clicquot 

The remarkable Madame Clicquot 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 meaning 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), leading the house to world-renown.

One of her most significant triumphs was sending a secret shipment of her Champagne to Russia in 1814 in defiance of Napoleon’s blockade.


Champagne Bollinger was founded in 1829 and is still 100% family-owned. Somewhat unusually for those helming a Champagne house, members of the Bollinger family have been growers and producers from the outset, with 70% of Bollinger’s grape supply comes from its own vineyards. This percentage is a minimum, set out in Bollinger’s Charter of Ethics and Quality, which was first published in 1992. This Charter confirms the house’s commitment to true standards of excellence and reinforces its steadfast determination to maintain the standards that have made Bollinger a watchword for quality Champagne.

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