Champagne Tales

Updated: Apr 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin - The story of a champagne
Myth and reality, legend and pure pleasure. A very special champagne conquered the world by living up to its motto: only one quality, the finest

Founded on 3 January 1772 by Pierre Cliquot, the first case of Veuve Cliquot made its appearance in Moscow in 1780 - a prelude to a phenomenal success in the land of the czars. By 1782, Cliquot champagne was making its mark in the US with a big marketing campaign. The name Ponsardin was added when Pierres son Francois married Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin, who went on, after the death of her husband, to achieve unprecedented success and was known as the Grand Dame of champagne. She created history in 1816 when she invented a process for clarifying wines called the remuage. She was also the first to launch a relentless campaign against forgeries by engraving her initials along with an anchor on all Cliquot bottles. The vineyards that she acquired are today, one of the best in the region. The 286 hectares of the Veuve Cliquot estate are divided among 12 of the 17 Grands Crus and 14 of the 39 Premiers Crus. The three main grape varieties used for their champagnes are Pinot Noir - which provides structure, substance and persistence to the style, Chardonnay - which adds elegance and finesse during blending and Pinot Meunier - to lend interesting fruity notes and mellowness.

Some Cliquot Admirers:
Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin has, over the years, gathered some illustrious followers. In Russia, Pushkin, Gogol and Chekov helped to make it a legend. Closer home, Appolinaire, Claude Monet, Marcel Proust and Sacha Guitry were among its fervent supporters. In the 1920s, couturier Paul Poiret organised sumptuous parties where Cliquot champagne flowed like water. The courts of Denmark Sweden, Greece and Great Britain offer their allegiance. In 1956, magnums of Brut 1929 were sent to Monaco for Prince Rainiers wedding to Grace Kelly. In 1970, Veuve Cliquot made, a special champagne for the jubilee in 1977 of the Queen of Britain.

Extravaganza with Veuve Cliquot
When you really want to cook for someone special!
Pomfret Fillets in Champagne Cream

The Cliquot family

La Grande Dame: Created in 1972 in honour of its founder to celebrate their Bicentenary, it is a vintage champagne made exclusively from the eight Grands Crus. An absolute masterpiece.
Rose Reserve: The 1985 vintage is a collectors item, one of the best rose champagnes of the latter part of the 20th century.
Vintage Reserve: The authentic character of champagne with a rounded aroma, dominated by dried fruit tones.
Rich Reserve: A vintage champagne with a slightly higher dosage, conceived specifically to partner fine food
Brut Yellow Label: A perfect aperitif wine, combining finesse with strength. One of the most widely drunk champagnes
Demi-Sec: This fruity wine has the elegant charm of a sweetness that is never
cloying

Ingredients:
4 fillets of pomfret, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 large spring onions - chopped fine (very tender leaves chopped too) 1 flute of champagne, 1/2 tetra pack vijaya or nestle or kwality rich cream, 1 semi-ripe mango, 1 slice watermelon salt & fresh crushed black pepper, 2 portions of buttered rice

Method:
Pat the fillets dry, season with salt & pepper and saute over medium heat in a non-stick pan, using 1 tablespoon of butter, until golden brown on both sides (5-7 minutes per side should be good). Remove the fish and keep warm; reserve the drippings in a bowl. Met the remaining butter in pan. Saute onions until transparent. Add champagne and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Stir in the cream and simmer for a couple of minutes till sauce thickens. Add drippings, salt and pepper to the sauce. Arrange thin slices of mango and watermelon alternately along left edge of each plate. Place two fillets each in center of plate and spoon sauce over the fish. Spinkle with chopped spring onion leaves. Arrange buttered rice on right edge of plate. Voila!