Veuve Cliquot is an Iconic brand of Champagne. From the instantly recognizable orange label, many people simply ask for the Champagne with the orange label, to the Tete de Cuvee; La Grand Dame, their wines are sought out the world over.
With a history spanning 3 centuries, the house of Veuve Clicquot has been at the forefront of numerous advances that helped revolutionize the wines of this esteemed region of France. From the invention of the riddling rack, which helps to remove sediment from the bottles to the stylish packaging and accessories that accompany today’s releases, Veuve Clicquot remains ahead of the pack and plans to stay there.
We recently had the chance to interview the newest addition to the winemaking team at Veuve Clicquot: Celarmaster Dominique Demarville. With a distinguished career already under his belt, though he is barely past 40, Dominique is an exciting addition to the Veuve Clicquot team.
1) What was you early introduction to wine like? Was it professional or social? When did it happen and who was instrumental in stimulating your interest.
My first introduction to wine was in 1985. I did my first harvest in Charly sur Marne, Champagne. I had been invited for the harvest as a picker. I was student and I saw this as just an opportunity to earn some pocket money. Instead, it was the beginning of a love affair. After this experience, I wanted to know more about vines, wines, terroir, vinegrowers ... . In 1986, I reoriented my studies to wine business.
2) When did you make the transition for a personal appreciation of wine to choosing it as a career path? Who or what wineries influenced this decision?
Everything starts during the harvest 1985. Since this first contact with the vines and wines, my passion is still growing for this wonderful life. All the experiences I had in the various wineries I worked at increased this passion. Many people helped me on this path. The last one was Jacques Peters, who transmitted his 30 years of experience at Veuve Clicquot.
3) How have your early professional views on the wine industry changed?
My view doesn't change. My passion and curiosity for wines and vines is still the same. The wine industry is very diverse but we must never forget we make wines for our clients, not for us.
4) What is your current professional philosophy? Have you been able to influence your current employer or have you adapted to their philosophy?
Quality of grapes and wines is in the heart of my philosophy. It needs lot of riguor and work. I hadn't to change my philosophy when I joined Veuve Clicquot. Quality is also the Veuve Clicquot philosophy. Madame Clicquot motto was : "one quality only, the finest". It is the same under my rule.t
5) What is your work like? Can you detail your annual work cycle?
Three main responsabilities dominate my work : grapes supply, winemaking and blending and training the teams around the world. Everything starts at the harvest in september or october. Just after, we do the blending tasting from mid-october until january. On average, we do the blending in february and the bottling starts end of february or early march for 7 to 8 months. I travel to train our Veuve Clicquot ambassadors around the world from April to July, sometimes in October. The grapes supply is done along the year with visit of vineyards, press centers and contracts signature.
6) Can you comment on the hot topics that dominate today’s wine dialog?
7) What are the production and stylistic differences between Veuve Clicquot’s Non-vintage, vintage and Grand Dame wines?
All our cuvées belong to the Veuve Clicquot style : powerful, complex and structured. It is of course because the Pinot Noir predominates in our blendings but also thank to the quality of our vineyards. Our non vintage (Yellow Label and Veuve Clicquot Rosé) are of course fresher and more fruity. They are dedicated to aperitif, light food. The Vintages are more intense and rich, with a strong palate. They are dedicated to more sophisticated food. The wine connaisseur are often very enthousiast with our old vintages. And La Grande Dame is the quintessence of Veuve Clicquot style, with lot of minerality yet wonderful creaminess: a perfect balance.
8) What are some favorite wines?
White, red and dessert. What are some memorable food and wine matches that you have had or can recommend. I'm a burgundy lover, specially Pinot Noir. But I love to discover wines from everywhere in the world. For example, when I travel, I like to buy wines from the country I visit (if it is a producer). By luck, I had the opportunity to live many memorable food and wine matches. I love for example caviar with Yellow label. The japanese cuisine works also very well with our champagnes. I recommend to be as simple as possible with food and Champagne pairing. Of course, seafood, fish are the most easy food to paire with champagne. But you can for example have very nice experiences with meat and old vintages, with apple tart tatin with demi-sec.t
9) How has Veuve Clicquot paired wines with food for the guests at the domaine?
At Veuve Clicquot, we have two chefs : Laurent Beuve and Christophe Panetier. They work closely with the winemaking team to creat dishes which is perfectly match with our wines. Several times a year, we try many reciepies with them. We select food which increases the taste of our wines.
10) If you had the chance to work anywhere on earth, besides Veuve Clicquot, where would you want to go?
In french vineyard: definitively in Burgundy where Pinot Noir makes top red wines; In new world vineyard: New Zealand.