Madame Clicquot, the "Grande Dame of Champagne,” made major strides in the 1800s by creating the first vintage champagne, inventing the riddling table process to clarify the spirit, and becoming the first to blend still red and white champagne wines to create rosé. Now, hundreds of years later, Veuve Clicquot is honoring this trailblazing woman with the help of an equally audacious woman: Yayoi Kusama.
Kusama has been called the most successful living artist, leading the way with the signature dots she implements in her art, sculptures, and immersive experiences. The collaboration between Kusama and the champagne house is called La Grande Dame, or “The Great Lady.” The bubbly is made to celebrate Madame Clicquot’s audacity as a female entrepreneur in the 19th century, and Kusama's signature dot patterns are reworked to embody champagne bubbles on the bottle’s label and case.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for Veuve Clicquot to continue our longstanding creative collaboration with Yayoi Kusama,” says Veuve Clicquot president and CEO Jean-Marc Gallot in a statement. The two powerhouses first collaborated in 2006, when Kusama used her distinctive style to beautifully reimagine a traditional painting of Madame Clicquot. But in many ways, the shared history goes even deeper, says Gallot: “Though living different lives in very different places and moments in time, Yayoi Kusama and Madame Clicquot are both remarkably bold women and there are fascinating parallels between their destinies.”
The champagne uses pinot noir for over 90 percent of the blend — just like Madame Clicquot said, “our black grapes give the finest white wines.” The vintage has complex aromas of hazelnuts, white flowers, and honey. The initial sip completes the bouquet in the mouth, and the silky texture adds elegance to its personality.
Veuve Clicquot’s chef de cave, Didier Mariotti, comments that the flavor notes are “both precise and delicate.” He adds, “It is playful, lively, laughing. It offers a strong minerality carried by Pinot Noir balanced with the freshness of the blend. Its aging potential is immense, it is a wine whose tasting makes me vibrate.”
Kusama created a limited-edition statue to accompany the release of La Grande Dame 2012. Titled “My Heart That Blooms in the Darkness of Night,” the whimsical flower symbolizes vital energy — the love and celebration of life. It took more than 250 hours to craft and is only available in 100 numbered pieces. Fill out an inquiry form on Veuve Clicquot’s website for the opportunity to be one of the lucky few to purchase the $36,000 Kusama original.
You can pre-order La Grande Dame 2012 at reservebar.com.