Veuve Clicquot is a luxury brand of champagne. They have high standards for their product, and that includes eco-standards. As it is owned by LVMH, a giant corporation spanning 75 luxury houses, I initially had doubts about their sustainability initiatives. However, it seems that they take them quite seriously, even if it is driven by a desire not to alienate environmentally-conscious consumers. Overall, Veuve Cliquot is very transparent about their production process, and all of the steps are described in detail on their website. However, there is still some important information missing about the environmental impacts of their product, such as their total greenhouse gas emissions, or the volume of water used to produce one bottle, for instance. After reviewing all of the sections, there is a feeling that Veuve Clicquot shares an overwhelming amount of information about their production process to make the consumer forget about some important environmental and ethical factors.
Champagne wines only come from the French Champagne region. They have strict specifications for production methods, and the yield per hectare is limited. This allows Veuve Clicquot to ensure the grapes are of the highest quality, and prevents soil degradation. The grapes are grown on 280,000 plots across the region, and 3 varieties are used: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Veuve Clicquot use only organic fertilizers, and in 2018 they achieved 0% herbicides. They reduce the frequency of weeds with grass strips between the vineyard rows, and by trimming under the vines via mechanical means without using pesticides for the majority of their vineyards, though they do not specify the exact number or proportion of pesticide-free vineyards. 99% of the vineyards are treated with techniques of sexual confusion. They involve diffusing female pheromones of the most common moth species that threat vineyards. This is done to confuse the males and prevent reproduction. These techniques allow to reduce or eliminate insecticide use.
The packaging is mostly recyclable. The bottle is made of glass, which can be recycled infinitely. The bottle itself is packaged in a carton made of paper, which is also recyclable. The corks can be composted, and the metal caps recycled. Veuve Clicquot has also created other forms of sustainable packaging, made from potato starch or grape skins, but they were more experimental, rather than legitimate options for a wide implementation.
First, the grapes are pressed in one of the six pressing centres. The next step is alcoholic fermentation - natural yeasts are added to the to-be-wine in stainless steel vats, which are maintained at 16 degrees Celsius for 8 to 10 days. Then, after a process of selection, the wines are put in bottles and the second alcoholic fermentation is initiated, during which the wine becomes sparkling. The bottles are then aged for a minimum of 30 months in the medieval chalk tunnels, away from light and vibrations, at a constant temperature of 10-12 degrees Celsius. Veuve Clicquot are trying to make the process as sustainable as possible - 100% of the wastewater is treated, 100% of waste is recycled or re-used. Since 2010, they reduced the greenhouse gas emissions per bottle by 20%, and reduced water consumption per bottle by 53.6% over the last 7 years. However, once again, there is no information about what those numbers used to be or what they are now. This lack of transparency is frustrating and suspicious - they seem to be proud about their achievements, but there is no way for the consumer to confirm the truth of these statements.
Veuve Clicquot, which translates to Widow Clicquot, has a fascinating origin story: Madame Clicqout became a widow at just 27, and took reins of the champagne house established by her late husband’s family in 1805. With her passion and entrepreneurial spirit, she created the first ever vintage champagne, invented the riddling table and the first rosé champagne. She can be considered one of the first widely known businesswomen!
During the harvest season, the House requires at least 1000 workers, 200 for the wine-pressing and about 40 working the kitchens. During this period, the company houses and provides food for over 500 seasonal workers.
Veuve Clicquot depends on their vineyard suppliers, and they work to maintain a relationship with them - some families have supplied them with grapes for over 6 generations. They have a team of 10 people dedicated to working exclusively with their partners. This team also works to establish Champagne Sustainable Viticulture.
Additionally, to honour the bold spirit of Madame Clicquot, the House established the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award in 1972. To this day, 350 women in 27 countries have been honoured.
However, despite all of these great initiatives, this section also omits some essential information - for instance, the wages of their workers, their hours and who they are.