hether sprayed at the crowd by a champion at Le Mans or tumbling down a pyramid of glasses, champagne is a universally acknowledged symbol of decadence and festivity. Certainly one of the characters who has contributed to this long-standing reputation is Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot who, after the death of her husband Francois in 1805, took over the champagne company
founded by his father Philipe Clicquot-Muiron in 1772. To this day the marque bears her name (Veuve, meaning “widow” in French). The rakish tradition of sabrage (the ceremonial opening of a champagne bottle with a military sabre) was, in part, prompted by this indomitable woman—Napoleon’s soldiers would slice the collars off their bottles using their swords to impress the young widow when leaving her vineyard. Fast forward to the latest development from Veuve: the brand's current cellar master, Dominique Demarville, has opened the company’s hallowed caves to allow the most indulgent of customers to appreciate the Cave Privée collection—five rare vintages from the 70s and 80s. Notable bottles include the 1975 Rosé (the fruity notes are the result of that year’s hot spring and cool summer), and the Rosé of 1989 (a year of wet weather), which, with its explosion of wild strawberries on the palette, bears an exceptional similarity to the legendary vintages of 1945 and 1959—two of the brand's most coveted champagnes. Freshly released to the market this month, the bottles will be available in strictly limited, numbered editions from premium wine dealers worldwide.