From its earliest origins, the spirit of innovation has infused Veuve Clicquot. Led by the visionary Madame Clicquot, the House has broken barriers in winemaking, technology, trade and design, and it continues to do so to this day. In 2016 comes a special moment in the heritage of the House: the 200th anniversary of one of Madame Clicquot’s most revolutionary and lasting inventions: the riddling table.
“ONLY ONE QUALITY, THE FINEST.”
Madame Barbe Clicquot Ponsardin.
Born of her high standards and insistence on constant improvement, this novel invention, a table pierced to cradle a group of bottles leaning at an angle, was designed by Madame Clicquot herself. Her aim was to force sediment formed during wine ageing in the House’s cellars in Reims into the bottles’ necks, to streamline the disgorging process and save time. Most importantly, she aimed to ensure much finer results, bringing a new level of clarity and effervescence to the House’s wines. To create “wines that are clear as water from a natural spring,” was Madame Clicquot’s ideal, and through the happy touch of extravagance that is creativity, she herself would achieve it.
Almost immediately, the riddling table was adopted by other houses, for 200 years remaining a crucial element in the process of elaborating champagne. Today, automatic riddling machines are used in the region yet some houses continue to use the “pupitre”. One generation removed from Madame Clicquot’s 200-year-old invention, the “pupitre” has only one major design change; the riddling table is pitched at a steep angle to maximize its surface area with double sides.
From Technology to Design: The riddling table as inspiration
Good design happens when form and function meet seamlessly; the best design brings vision and imagination into play. Veuve Clicquot has long been a sponsor and promoter of the most visionary contemporary design, commissioning leading artists inspired by the creativity of Madame Clicquot.
A radical innovation in its time, the riddling table she invented remains a timeless source of inspiration. Invited in 2005 to discover the House’s wines, Andrée Putman was enthralled by the sense of daring and common sense that had driven Madame Clicquot to invent the riddling table. On the heels of her visit, she wanted to pay homage to this driven woman by reinterpreting her celebrated table. “With the idea that you could enjoy a nicely chilled bottle directly on a table riddled with holes”. Andrée Putman transformed this innovative piece of rustic furniture into a contemporary and romantic table that reflects the different stages of a process invented two centuries earlier.
This piece is exhibited at the Veuve Clicquot Visit Center in Reims. A venue dedicated to introducing the Maison’s precious heritage, along with its champagne-making savoir-faire to the general public. As part of Veuve Clicquot’s historical legacy and evidence of the Maison’s innovative spirit, the riddling table will be showcased during the third edition of the LVMH Journées Particulières, from May 20th to May 22nd 2016.