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Rally for Riley

On January 10th, JoshSpear.com friend and action sports industry staple Riley Poor was involved in an accident in Vermont that resulted in a serious spinal cord injury. Among the many hats Riley wears in the ski industry: he’s X Games champion Simon Dumont’s personal camera guy, a videographer for Poor Boyz Productions (they just won Powder Magazine’s Movie of the Year Award for Reasons), and the Nike 6.0 Team Manager. Riley is now in an intense rehab program at the renowned Craig Hospital in Denver, continuing his rehabilitation and eventual full recovery. His spirit has been truly extraordinary through this ordeal, and he has come to be an inspiration to many.

Riley’s friends are coming together for a fundraising event and you’re all invited. The Rally for Riley is this Saturday night (2/28) at Sutra in Denver. Full details in the flyer after the jump. Hope to see you there for drinks, dancing (DJ Sounds Supreme and DJ Jesse James will be spinning), raffle prizes, and a celebration of Riley’s spirit.

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The Veuve Clicquot Recipe: 2 Parts Family

To briefly recap our progress with the Veuve Clicquot recipe this week, we added one part design on Tuesday, one part ambiance on Wednesday, and one part expertise on Thursday. Today, there’s one last ingredient to add, and we’re going to be pouring a little bit more of this one into the mix than usual. The reason the recipe calls for two parts family is that the Veuve Clicquot family is the glue that holds the rest of the dish together.

The strength of the VC family not only serves to keep the internal workings of the brand humming along, but it’s also a strong, effective, and natural customer draw — I think it’s the authenticity people perceive when they feel a strong sense of family associated with a brand. It was certainly what made me feel relaxed, welcomed, and inspired during my days in France — a refreshing, tradition-bound experience amongst the hoards of Johnny-come-lately brands out there these days.

And as a special bonus today, I’ve put together this photo/video montage of my Veuve Clicquot experience. In all honesty, it was inspired by my new, adopted family. I hope you all enjoy watching. (I recommend viewing the montage in high quality on youtube )

And what "family" post would be complete with out a few family photos? You'll find several after the jump"¦

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The Veuve Clicquot Recipe: 1 Part Expertise

Moving right along with the Veuve Clicquot Recipe I’ve been slowly but surely completing for you this week… Since we’ve successfully added one part each of design and ambiance, we’re going to go ahead and fold-in one part expertise today. Successful businesses invariably depend on exceptional people, and VC is no exception, its tradition of expertise having been laid into place by Madame Clicquot. At the ripe age of 27, she took over the family business of wine making from her late husband, Francois Clicquot. The Madame began what what must be considered one of the most impressive careers of the era, both pioneering within her industry, and setting an important example for other aspiring female entrepreneurs. Through brilliant ingenuity of her own, she revolutionized how champagne was made and mass produced when she invented the process of riddling in 1816. She went on to leave her legacy to people whom she trusted, and the brand grew so that when she died in 1866, she was the richest woman in Europe.

Luckily, my Veuve Clicquot experience last week included meeting and learning from Madame Clicquot’s contemporaries. While the guys pictured above are by no means the only experts within the Veuve Clicquot organization, they sure stuck out in my mind. After the jump, I’ll introduce you to them in turn, starting from the left and working right…

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The Veuve Clicquot Recipe: 1 Part Ambiance

Now that we’ve mixed 1 part design into the bowl, we’re going to move onto the second ingredient — let’s add one part ambiance. Just the second ingredient in the four-ingredient recipe, it was the most eye-opening component of my Veuve Clicquot experience last week. My choosing of “ambiance” as a vital ingredient in the overall recipe that is the Veuve Clicquot brand was predicated on the idea that a luxury Champagne brand must act the part — it must not conduct business in a vacuum. The incredible flavors that emerge from the bottle don’t appear out of thin air — they are created and caused by the process, by nature, by people. In this rather photo-heavy post, I hope I can at least skim the surface of the ambiance within and surrounding the Veuve Clicquot brand as I experienced it. After the jump are just some of the sights and circumstances that epitomize the yellow label.
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The Veuve Clicquot Recipe: 1 Part Design

Today I’m going to highlight the first ingredient in the four part Veuve Clicquot Recipe that I promised you yesterday: 1 part design. It became clear to me during my time in France that design plays a central role in the Veuve Clicquot brand. Through collaborations with some of the world’s foremost luxury brands and designers, it has been successful in parlaying it’s famous and storied heritage into a modern brand with modern appeal. During that process, it rings true that the history of Veuve Clicquot is never lost in one of their many modern updates — rather, its authenticity has been artfully preserved.

While there are many more examples of how VC has tapped the talents of some of the worlds most astute designers to keep the brand constantly updated and relevant (case in point, it’s collaborations with Christophe Pillet), I’ve chosen to feature four of my favorite projects in this post…

Veuve Clicquot Vertical Limit by Porsche Design (photos above). With a limited production of twelve units and a staggering cost of 120,000 Euros, the Vertical Limit is not your ordinary champagne cooler. Its design aesthetic is unmistakably Porsche Design, with those cool, clean metallic lines and warm back-lit interior. Veuve Clicquot’s contribution inside is even more impressive… a collection of twelve vintages; twelve perfect marriages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. When one of the lucky owners decides to vacate one of the spots in the Vertical Limit, she can fill the empty spot with another one of her favorite vintages. The year of birth of a given vintage is printed on the end of each individual door on a metallic placard. For lack of a better description, this thing’s “baller.”

My other 3 design picks are after the jump…

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Veuve Clicquot: My Podium Picks

As a bonus to the Veuve Clicquot “recipe” which I will be assembling for you all this week, I thought I’d also offer up a bit of instant gratification — good form for a Monday, I figure. During my time with VC, the other bloggers and I had plenty of opportunities to try plenty of different kinds of champagne. I found myself battling with the dichotomy of objectively great champagne (the stuff that’s known to be great) and subjectively great champagne (the stuff I liked regardless of its reputation) — a philosophical debacle of monumental proportions, right? At times, it was a bit overwhelmed (coming to mind immediately is the dizzy feeling I had at the luncheon we had at the Verzy Mansion right after our first morning tasting event with master Oenologist Cyril Brun)… but when in Reims, one must make the most of each flute of champagne laid in front of them, right?

After the jump are my three favorites, in no particular order. For each, I’ve included a link to explanations by the experts at Veuve Clicquot, as well my various (humble) musings…

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The Veuve Clicquot Recipe: A Miniseries

Last week, a perfect storm of luck, timing, karmic repayment, and a unforeseen hiccup in Josh’s schedule had me whisking off to Paris on an Open Skies flight to join some other bloggers as guests of Veuve Clicquot (think bold yellow label). In the past few years I’ve been noticing a stronger presence of Veuve Clicquot in the states — I think this is probably due to a combination of my own personal maturation, taking a notice in their various thoughtful forays into the world of design, and an increased marketing outreach on VC’s part. From a branding standpoint, I always thought that VC “got it,” and was doing a nice job reaching out to the U.S. market, but I was excited to get behind the curtain to see what that wonderful wizard was all about on a more nuts-and-bolts level.

In the States, we tend to treat champagne (“bubbly”) as a celebratory mechanism — our approach is decidedly habitual and formulaic, drawing cues from holidays like New Years and pop culture icons Jay-Z and 50-Cent (who drink lots of bubbly in the ‘cluh’ and show us in their videos just how that process works). A romantic portrayal of champagne? Sure, why not? But champagne has different significance in France. In its homeland, champagne is an integral component of French society, its heritage, and frankly, its style. Indeed, what I came to find out during my week with Veuve Clicquot is that, to the French, champagne is a way of life deeply rooted in tradition, rich soil, and most of all, family.

Some of these press trips can be nightmarish — following PR people around like puppy dogs for days on end, as a corporate agenda is shoved down your throat — and in which something (a certain advertorial something) is invariably expected of you in the end. This trip was of the more natural ilk — the nice people at Veuve Clicquot simply wanted us to experience their brand and their culture, and by adopting us into their family (literally), they created a truly enriching setting whereby I became inspired to share my experience with you all. Our aim as contributors on Joshspear.com is to continue the tradition upon which Josh founded the blog: to write about things we like — things that inspire us. Well make no mistake, my experience in France with Veuve Clicquot inspired me deeply.

Over the course of this week, I will endeavor to provide you, the readers, with the Veuve Clicquot recipe. I hope you will enjoy the ingredients on their own, and as a harmonious whole. But just remember, as with haute French cuisine, there are nuanced ingredients which can only be discovered through first hand experience — I will hold these ‘special’ ingredients in my mind and in my heart, with a hope that someday you will discover them for yourselves.

So, here’s a simple list of the ingredients in the Veuve Clicquot recipe. If you want to know how they all come together, stay tuned this week!

- 1 part design (Tuesday)
- 1 part ambiance (Wednesday)
- 1 part expertise (Thursday)
- 2 parts family (Friday)

Mix together for a little over 200 years, and enjoy.

Photos courtesy of Xavier Lavictoire

Calle Street Soccer

While us ‘Mericans have the luxury of perfectly mowed fields and a plethora of generic gear at our disposal, most of the world does soccer… or fútbol… or futbito, differently. It’s a beloved and gritty sport, the foundation of which lays in the townships of Africa and in the dirt surfaces of Spain and Brazil. As so many of us have been, while traveling to these hallowed international ‘fields,’ Travis Winn – the founder of Calle (pronounced KAI-yay) – was inspired by the passion, talent, and ultimately, the style he saw being displayed by 12 year old street soccer players in Spain. Confidently and creatively, he thought, they tirelessly played 5 v. 5 on fenced-in concrete courts and in the callejones (a.k.a. alleys).

The difference between most of us and Travis is that Travis went one step further and saw a business opportunity in all of this. Calle was born out of international streets, and has come to fruition through the idea of bridging the gap between the mostly hideous soccer apparel/gear that we’re used to, and a more fashion-forward, to-the-roots-of-the-game aesthetic. There’s a market for a brand like this, no question about that. My hope is that Calle doesn’t try to become ‘the Quicksilver’ of the soccer industry overnight, but rather focuses on conveying through its apparel and other products the authentic look, feel, and style from which the brand was born.

Their Primero street soccer ball is, in my book, the icon of the brand– low bounce, soft touch, and not afraid of getting dirty… canvas sack included.

The Moog Guitar: Paul Vo Collector Edition

The other day, a guitar fanatic friend of mine – who incidentally also handcrafts guitars for an impressive list of virtuosos you’d all know – burst into the room looking like a kid fresh off of his first roller coaster ride, and began spouting off about this new Paul Vo designed Moog Guitar. When I was able to to calm him down enough so that he could speak sufficiently clear for me to understand what he was saying, he began explaining to me why the release of this guitar is such a big deal. See, the ‘guitar’ as we all know it employs technology that is older than most of our parents– over the years, Bob Moog has breathed freshness into the instrument by way of his synthesizers and effects; those changed the way modern guitarists approached the instrument because they broadened musical possibilities.

This guitar is – as I understand it – a landmark addition to the guitar family because it (on its own) vastly widens the range of sonic options through its ‘infinite sustain’ and muting capabilities. Plus, it goes for $6,500, so it must be an ass-kicker, right? Any feedback from our guitar heroes out there?

Related: Wired’s Moog Unveils Badass Guitar with Infinite Sustain

PUMA x Atmos x Mitsuaki Iwago

Disclaimer: no polar bears or snow leopards were harmed during the creation of these shoes… National Geographic imagery meets sneaker design in this collaboration between PUMA, Atmos NYC, and Japanese photographer Mitsuaki Iwago. Through two releases– the Polar Pack and the Asia Pack, sneaker buffs will be treated to a series of kicks inspired by Mitsuaki Iwago’s famed wildlife photos. The outsides of the shoes capture the unique characteristics of various animals, and each (removable) insole sports Iwago’s actual photos on them. The final touch is that both the name and habitat of each animal is printed on the reverse tongue and on the outsole in both English and – you guessed it – Japanese.

The Polar Pack will be on sale only at Atmos NYC and Ubiq in Philadelphia beginning on June 28th, and you can expect the Asia Pack to drop later this summer.

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