It appears on nearly every wine list in every major city’s restaurants across the nation; it pops up at nearly every “middle-to-high class” social event; its large yellow label is overtly displayed in nearly every retail outlet for wine, from independent liquor stores to huge grocery chains across the nation; it is the go-to “bubbles” for those who don’t know bubbles…and for those who do. It is the ever-so-popular Veuve Clicquot. I had the opportunity recently to hit up their newest marketing event; I visited the impossible-to-miss, yellow-as-the-label Clicquot Mail Truck at a very trendy hot spot in Houston, Texas, where flutes of the Yellow Label and Rosé were flowing abundantly on the outdoor patio.
This was the first stop in Houston for the Mail Truck, and Texas was just one of the many states on the nationwide tour that started in New York back in July. The inspiration behind the campaign came from the widow (“Veuve”, in French) Madame Clicquot herself. After taking over the champagne house in 1805 after the passing of her husband and becoming the first woman ever to do so, she sent hand-written letters throughout Europe to royalty, agents, suppliers, etc in order to spread the word about her tasty bubbles. She is credited for implementing the high standards under which the House operates to this day.
The crowd the Clicquot Mail Truck drew was quite eclectic and quite large. From young, chic fashionistas to a more sophisticated mature crowd (among which it was difficult to differentiate “New Money” and “Old Money”, assuming both were present), all ages swooned over the champagne, taking photos in the strategically, but inconveniently, placed photo booth and holding up bottles of the juice for other photo ops, often times with the hired Clicquot “mail carriers,” whose job it was to keep the crowd happy and the flutes full. The concept was ingenious (what other marketing team of trendy juice in the US have you known to drive a big yellow truck cross country in efforts of “spreading the word” and corroborating people’s love of the brand, while undoubtedly also creating new fans?); unfortunately, in reality, at least at this event in Houston, the campaign lacked execution.
The event hours were advertised as 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. I arrived just before five and quite quickly discovered that, 1) all outdoor patio seats (where the event was officially taking place) were taken, and 2) all the plastic souvenir Clicquot champagne flutes were already given out (these were specifically for the event, and who doesn’t want a souvenir from such a label?). So I settled for a regular champagne flute from the restaurant (15 minutes later I overheard a “mail girl” tell a guest they were out of those as well). I then heard murmurs throughout the crowd that they were out of the Rosé, and shortly after I finally got a hold of a flute of the Yellow Label, I discovered that was out, too. Perhaps I should have arrived at 4:29pm to have mitigated all of the above, but especially to have secured a table, because that would have made it much easier to pair the wine with the free oysters that were provided.
I was anxious to try the oysters while I still had half a flute of the Yellow Label, so I grabbed a little plate of three oysters and walked back over to my “spot” on the sidewalk, along with the rest of the overflow guests. I quickly regretted doing so. The oysters were like none I have ever tasted before; they were overly salty, like ocean water, and for a second, I was convinced I had just swallowed a mouthful of Galveston Beach water. In fact, the aftertaste in my mouth was so unpleasant and overwhelming that I knew my little food pairing experiment was ruined. Thank goodness I had already written down some tasting notes for the Vueve Clicquot before swallowing the oyster.
The Clicquot Yellow Label delivered aromatics of yeast, lees, brie, toast, and slight blue cheese, peaches and apricot, although there was not overwhelming fruit on the nose. The mouth feel was a bit lightweight but substantial, with relatively delicate bubbles to provide a creamy texture, and the palette offered lemon peel and undeniable green apple flavors. The finish was tangy and slightly harsh and abrupt. Nonetheless, the breezy, sunny late afternoon provided the perfect backdrop for outdoor champagne sipping, and, had I had a table, I would probably have stayed longer to purchase and pop open a bottle to enjoy.
This marketing campaign no doubt will help retain Veuve Clicquot’s very high rank on the bubbles echelon here in the US. It has secured some of its oldest consumers’ allegiance and no doubt has found new allegiance among the younger generations. As for me, I have learned not to be “late” to an event showcasing such a popular product. Believe it or not, I did end up with one of those plastic souvenir Clicquot champagne flutes that I was envying. And although it will probably never see a drop of champagne, I am still glad to have it.
After being inspired by her brother-in-law, who is a winemaker for Gilbert Cellars and JBNeufeld wines in Yakima, Washington, along with her 10+ years of sales experience, Morgan decided it would be apt to pursue a career in selling wine, which led her to her current job as an on-premise Fine Wine Sales Representative at Glazer’s Distributors, where she has been since December 2013. She loves the fact that there is something new to learn about wine every single day, and that the opportunities to do so by working for a distributor are abundant. Her next pursuit is the Certified Wine Specialist (CSW), provided by Glazer’s continuing education program. She also hopes to begin leading blind tasting classes at The Texas Wine School in the next couple of months (independent of the WSET courses). Favorite varietals: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Zinfandel (Lodi), Bobal, and Chenin Blanc (Vouvray).