The legacies of two leading ladies — Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (or, Madame Clicquot) and Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama — are definitely worth clinking ‘Santé!’ to with bubbly glasses of Champagne.
‘My Heart that Blooms in the Darkness of the Night’ is Yayoi Kusama’s artful tribute to the House’s newest cuvée, La Grande Dame 2012. Floral twists and Kusama’s signature polka dots — standing in for champagne bubbles — illustrate a whimsical motif; a bright, optimistic note in contrast to the origins of the Veuve Clicquot brand.
The story of Veuve Clicquot begins with tragedy; ‘Veuve’, of course, means ‘widow’ in French. Having taken over the reins of the Clicquot wine-making business after her husband Francois’ death, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin — through years of trial, tribulation and close-to-bankruptcy failure — stands as the woman who pioneered the Champagne industry. It was through her efforts that the process of riddling — from which bottles of champagne are tilted on a slant to eliminate collected yeast sediment — is made commonplace in the industry; at the time, this process was revolutionary.
The release of La Grande Dame 2012 cloaked in Yayoi Kusama’s signature aesthetic isn’t the first time the Japanese artist and the Veuve Clicquot brand had met and joined forces in collaboration; in 2006, Kusama painted over a portrait of Madame Clicquot with her signature polka dots for a charity auction in Tokyo. Despite more than a century apart in years, Kusama followed a similar trajectory with Madame Clicquot: As a woman who found fame, independence and success in a male-dominated industry.
La Grande Dame 2012 continues to follow in Veuve Clicquot’s hallmark as a cuvée that centres its composition on the very best of Pinot Noir harvests, mainly from the House’s plots in Champagne, France.