It takes vision and a will and a woman, to find a way to success in Champagne, France.
A champagne toast to Madame Veuve Pommery (Widow Pommery), the greatest Champagne widow of the 19th century, who steered the world’s taste in sparkling wine from sweet to dry – a taste that became liquid gold.
Pommery was born Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Melin in 1819. She married Alexandre Pommery, from a prominent wool family in Reims. They had two children about 17 years apart, and it was the imminent birth of the second child in 1856 that prompted a just-retired Alexandre to enter the wine business with Narcisse Greno. Alexandre Pommery died in 1858.
Madame was 38.
“I have decided to carry on with the business and take the place of my husband,” said the widow Pommery. For “heath reasons”, Narcisse Greno retired from the business in 1860.
She adopted the motto, Qualite d’abord, quality first, then changed the direction of her wines from red to white. Having been schooled in England she understood that the English preferred wines less sweet. Also, she modeled her winery as an estate to cater to a growing flock of American and English visitors to the French wine regions. When rumors that her winery was on shaky financial grounds, she purchased Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Gleaners” for 300,000 francs, with the proviso that it would be donated to the people of France at her death. The gesture endured her to the public and captured the notice of the press.
The above statue dedicated to the memory of Madame Pommery is in Bouzy, France, cute name n’est-ce pas?
Bouzy is unique, since hard-headed winegrowers here make a non-bubbly Bouzy Rouge, a Pinot Noir that is expensive because, it is counter-intuitive in Champagne. There is also the Pommery Brut Royal, Variety: 35% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier.
Oooh la la la, c’est magnifique!