By Lynette Carrington
Scottsdale.com was invited to participate in a very special girls-only event featuring Veuve Clicquot Champagnes. The dinner took place at Elements at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and was orchestrated by renowned executive chef Beau MacMillan, or “BeauMac” as he is affectionately known in the local foodie community. The evening celebrated the spirit and entrepreneurship of Widow Clicquot, one Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin (1777-1866). After the death of her husband when she was only 27-years old, the Widow Clicquot grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and took over an up-and-coming wine business she had with her husband before his death.
Madame Clicquot fearlessly grew the Clicquot brand navigating a complex series of political and financial challenges, even going so far as to politically steer things so she could get her product into Russia. It worked, and she was a trailblazer, as well as a famously wealthy woman.
After Chef MacMillan came out to greet the intimate gathering of gals, he set to work in the exhibition kitchen at Sanctuary that had until the moment it was revealed, was cleverly hidden behind floor-length drapes.
Our Veuve Clicquot hosts made the rounds of the 14-seat table and the ladies in attendance were a who’s who of local media. We marveled at the stories of the steadfastness of Widow Clicquot in growing her brand, something that was uncommon amongst women of the time. She also perfected the technique of “riddling champagne,” whereby sediment is moved into the bottle’s neck so it can be removed. Clicquot did not like the “cloudiness” of champagne and set about a way to rid it from the bubbly drink. Through trial and error, she perfected the riddling (remuage) technique, one that is still used today.
Champagne is only champagne if it comes from that specific region of France, and it is approximately twice the size of Napa Valley. Today, Clicquot picks only the finest of villages in the Champagne region to source its grapes.
The first course of our “La Grande Dame” dinner was a creamy corn gazpacho with lobster ceviche, avocado and pomegranate. As is par for the course, this gazpacho was served cold and was a beautiful orchestration of tastes. It was paired with a Non-vintage Rose. In fact, the Clicquot brand was the first to create a rose champagne, and ours was certainly fabulous.
Next was a tantalizing citrus vodka cured salmon capped with a quail egg, caviar and a citrus emulsion all set atop sweet pea pancakes. The course was served with a Vintage Blanc 2008. This particular vintage is aged eight years.
The third course was a large duck and foie gras ravioli with chanterelle mushrooms and a light black tea umami broth. This dish was paired with La Grande Dame 2006.
Our next course was a Colorado lamb with charred eggplant, lime pickle Swiss chard, black garlic and miso with a balsamic reduction. It was accompanied by a Vintage La Grande Rose 2004. In fact, this particular champagne has had only had seven vintages in its history! We were lucky enough to have been able to try it.
Finally, the dessert course was a scrumptious pistachio and olive oil cake with fruit, mascarpone and a delightful zinfandel syrup. It was paired with a Demi-Sec champagne that was a beautiful accompaniment to our final course.
Upon our departure, we were gifted with “New York Times” best-selling book, “The Widow Clicquot,” in French, “Vueve Clicquot.” No doubt, all in attendance were in awe of a remarkable woman whose gifts to the world are still being treasured today.
For more information on Vueve Clicquot champagnes, visit www.vueveclicquot.com/champagne. Elements is located at Sanctuary Resort at 5700 E. McDonald Dr., Scottsdale. Visit www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/dining/.