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A Champagne Project In Support Of Ukraine – Victory Of Dignity

There are many different ways to support the war for democracy and independence in Ukraine, but drinking champagne must be one of the most pleasant ones. Mariia Didkovska is running a project that makes that possible.

Mariia is a Ukrainian businesswoman living in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, where she owns two restaurants. One is called Citronelle, a French-style restaurant with the tagline “la cuisine française”. The other is a cocktail bar called Saint Bar.

I met Mariia on a video call a little while back to know more about a charity project she is running in support of Ukraine, its war effort and its victory. The project is called “Victoire de la dignité”, Victory of Dignity. Specifically, the project aims to financially support the military hospital in Kyiv–critically important in Ukraine today—by selling a special edition of a champagne from the French producer Champagne Pierre Morlet.

The project has already been able to support the hospital financially to enable them to buy, for example, new surgery and endoscopy equipment and other things that are difficult to find and finance in Ukraine today.

The Victory of Dignity champagne is still available, both in Ukraine and in other countries, for those who would like to give their support. Here’s the story behind it.

A few years back, through a friend and through her business as a restaurateur, she came in contact with a champagne producer called Eric Morlet, fourth-generation owner of Champagne Pierre Morlet. They became one of her champagne suppliers. Five years ago, when the restaurant celebrated its anniversary, Champagne Morlet came with a surprise for Mariia. They had created a special edition champagne for the restaurant, a blanc de blanc (a champagne made only from chardonnay). This was later followed by another special edition, this time a blanc de noir, a champagne made exclusively from red grapes, for Citronelle. A close relationship between Mariia and the Morley family led to them visiting Kyiv in December of 2021, shortly before Russia started the war. This family friendship was the basis for the Victoire de la Dignité project.

As Mariia explained to me when I talked to her, “I was trying to understand what to do, how to help, how to save my kids and how to help my people to survive. I had the idea that we can create a specific Ultimate Collection of champagne and involve our Ukrainian interest in modern artists. And sell it first of all in order to be ready for the Victory Day.” Because it is actually more looking towards the future for Mariia, for the Victory Day that she knows is coming, and not only to help in the short term. She wanted to create a special edition of champagne, with labels illustrated by Ukrainian artists, to be sold to support the Military Hospital in Kyiv.

But at the moment, it was just an idea. She talked to Eric Morlet, who joined the project; as Mariia puts it, “It was a way for them to support Ukrainians concretely”. So, from that moment on, it was a question of actually making real what had been only an idea until then.

Now, she had the champagne, but she needed the artist. Through her friends and her networks, thanks to her restaurant, she contacted a handful of Ukraine’s top artists and explained the project. She managed to convince six of her favourite painters to participate in the project, and each of them has contributed with a painting: Oleksii Apollonov, Mykola Bilous, Olena Pryduvalova, Maryna Skugareva, Oleksandr Sukholit, and Oleg Tistol. The Victoire de la Dignité champagne is bottled with six different labels, one from each artist.

The wine is also quite an unusual champagne. It comes from Champagne’s Montagne de Reims sub-region, known for its full-bodied champagnes. It is one of very few vineyards in the region that is on such a steep slope that it has been terraced to be able to grow the vines there.

2015 was a very difficult year, and the harvest was almost lost due to the weather. Spring frost almost wiped out the vines. “The grapes were saved thanks to the united efforts of my family. We made a really special wine with them which we’ve kept for something important. I am very happy that this millésime has been bottled for the Victoire de la Dignité collection. It will serve a great cause.”

The wine is a vintage champagne from the 2015 harvest, made from 85% chardonnay and 15% pinot noir. Only 2,388 bottles were made of this cuvée. It has spent six years on the lees before disgorging, a long time that often gives extra depth to the wine.

The wine has a deep golden colour and is quite powerful, more than expected from a chardonnay. An excellent creamy mousse. It has very well-developed notes of yellow fruit, apricots, a touch of mango, and what we like to call “dry” honey. Already quite ripe in style. With its eight years of age, the acidity has been rounded off. This makes it a perfect champagne to match with food.

Today, it is still possible to support the Main Military Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, as is the full name. There are even a few extra-special bottles that some prominent people in Ukraine have signed that you might be able to get.

You can buy the bottles in Mariia’s restaurant in Kyiv, of course, but you can also get them in other countries by contacting Mariia. They have already delivered bottles to London and New York. The charity has its own website, where you can find her contact details. Why not get a “six-pack”, and you will get one each of the six artists’ labels?

A great way to support Ukraine and, at the same time, enjoy an excellent wine.

No doubt there is an added symbolism in this charity project. Champagne is a drink with which one often celebrates a victory, and in this case, the future victory of Ukraine.

—Per Karlsson

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