Traditionally speaking, it’s that celebratory time of year. And while New Year’s Eve parties might be on hold this year, who says you can’t still celebrate by opening a bottle of premium Champagne? If you’re looking for an extra special bottle of bubbly this year, then let me tell you about Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame 2012 and their collaboration with renowned contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama.
The Champagne house’s relationship with Kusama began at a 2006 auction in Tokyo. Kusama gave new life to an original portrait of Madame Clicquot—the maison’s pioneering matriarch—by using her famous polka dot pattern. The dialogue between Veuve Clicquot and Kusama has continued ever since. So almost two years ago, the team at Veuve Clicquot reached out to her to ask for her interpretation of La Grande Dame.
“On the contrary to everything, she refused,” says Jean-Marc Gallot, president and CEO of Veuve Clicquot. “Now [she’s] getting a little bit older, and she doesn’t take any kind of new project at this time, so it provides an incredible blessing and an incredible opportunity to have been able to work with her.”
La Grande Dame is a tribute to Madame Clicquot. Gallot says he can see the similarities between Madame Clicquot and Kusama. Madame Clicquot took over her late husband’s Champagne house when she was 27, and Kusama entered the American art market when she was 28—both of which, he says, took courage.
“I can see a lot of similarities between the two extraordinary and inspiring women,” Gallot (pictured right) says. To celebrate the new vintage of La Grande Dame, they were considering which artist could most emulate and honor Madame Clicquot. “Who in this world could look like the most in terms of character and complexity as Madame Clicquot? And the name of Yayoi Kusama came to our mind as the one-off.”
The design for the bottle and the box it comes in is playful, vibrant and strong, featuring Kusama’s renowned polka dots, designed to emulate Champagne bubbles. When it arrived, I was truly stunned by how bold yet whimsical and optimistic the flower and polka dot design is. I couldn’t stop staring at it. According to Veuve Clicquot’s website, “The opulent flower symbolizes vital energy, love and celebration of life.” This couldn’t be a more beautiful sentiment, especially as we wind down an especially challenging year. The optimism and joy the design brought me seems like reason enough to pick up a bottle. But even better, as La Grande Dame is the Champagne that made me fall in love with Champagne. And the 2012 vintage is similar in vision to the 2008 vintage, Gallot tells me.
“Starting with La Grande Dame 2008, we changed the blend of La Grande Dame to be primarily Pinot Noir as an incredible tribute to Madame Clicquot’s love of the Pinot Noir grape,” he says. “La Grande Dame 2012 is blended with 90 percent Pinot Noir.”
At Veuve Clicquot, there is a lot to be proud of. Apart from this collaboration and the new vintage, Gallot says Clicquot is one of the top brands of Champagne purchased by consumers in the U.S. this year.
“A lot of people who are not going out as they used to…have now shifted to the pleasure of indulging with a nice bottle of Veuve Clicquot at home,” Gallot says. And while many will be celebrating the holidays and New Year’s at home this year, Gallot is passionate about Champagne not just being something we drink to celebrate
“Champagne, of course, is a great way to celebrate, but it’s not only about celebration,” Gallot says. “So maybe we are learning a lot right now from the big trend of buying a Champagne at home and maybe in the future, we will have both, which means that we will have new reason of drinking Champagne at home, which I love… And, of course, getting back to a little more celebration of events, but again, it is not about only celebration.”