In 1811 the young Frenchman Pierre-Nicolas Perrier married Dutch girl Adèle Jouët; that date proved to be a landmark in the history of champagne making, marking the founding of the maison that bears their names.
For more than two centuries, Perrier-Jouët has produced some of the very finest wines. The family has owned vineyards in the Champagne region since its earliest days. During the early part of the 20th century, it boosted its estate with the acquisition of the two terroirs of Bourons Leroy and Bourons du Midi. It now has 65 hectares, ranked at 99.2 percent on the grands crus scale. Each of its cuvées includes ve of the main wines of what the winemaker calls Champagne’s “magic triangle”: Cramant and Avize (Côte des Blancs); Mailly (Montagne de Reims); and Aÿ and Dizy (Vallée de la Marne). In Côte des Blancs, for instance, the maker possesses the best plots, exposed to the south and southeast and planted mid slope; this planting favours Chardonnay, which is roundly complemented by the Pinot Noirs and Pinot Meuniers of the other grands crus.
At the heart of the maison sits cellar master Hervé Deschamps, who assumed the role in 1993 after spending 10 years as the right-hand man of his predecessor. His work is the ultimate expression of the house itself: “I throw myself into each composition with one combined effort, like the creative flow of an artist at that moment when intuition, sensitivity and skill somehow inexplicably come together,” he enthuses.
Perrier-Jouët was the first champagne producer to mark the vintage on its bottles: a bold move with the inherent risk of highlighting the bad years as well as the good. Its solution was to scrap poor vintages rather than tarnish its good name. Such measures earned it many fans throughout the courts of Europe, among them Queen Victoria and Napoleon III, who enjoyed the wines’ fresh oral notes, as so many do today.
Perhaps best encapsulating the Perrier-Jouët’s philosophy is Belle Epoque 2007. The year was marked by a mild winter and warm spring that caused the vines to ower early, followed by a hot August and early harvest. The cuvée proved to be exceptional – light gold in colour with a nose including citrus, magnolia, honeysuckle and peach. On the palate the wine is fresh, crisp and bold, with white-fruit flavours complemented by notes of almond. Deschamps blended the wine to emphasise the character of the vintage; it comprises 50 percent Chardonnay, 45 percent Pinot Noir and 5 percent Pinot Meunier, aged for six years and pairing perfectly with seafood, poultry or even a lightly sugared fruit dessert. Belle Epoque 2007’s bottle is decorated with a painted spray of white anemones wreathed in gold, a design that dates to 1902 when glass artist Émile Gallé, a notable luminary of the art nouveau movement, was first commissioned by the house.