Perrier-Jouët those who transform “brutal” into brut
Let’s do something mad: let’s drink a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 2002 and lets taste a something of a myth, sensual and ageless
Seen for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini
My husband Carlo Gardini and I love having our food accompanied by bubbles. Every excuse is a good one: in the summer it’s so hot, autumn with its truffles (Fattoria del Colle has 5 truffle preserves), the necessity to change after having so many red wines. The Perrier Jouet is not among my favourites because I hate the Art Nouveau style and this Champagne bottle as always seemed to me to be horrendous. But I have discovered that its contents are not bat at all, in fact I must say that it deeply enthrals me.
For this reason the article by Caroline Henry on Wine Searcher attracted my attention straight away: The 10 things that every wine lover ought to know about Perrier-Jouët.
Some of these resemble fairytales. First of all the history: Pierre Nicolas Perrier and Rose Adelaïde (Adèle) Jouët get married in 1810. He sells corks and she is 19 and the daughter of a Calvados producers. A year later they create their winery Perrier-Jouët and three years later they buy a large building where still today the company management is found.
At that time Champagne was a sweet wine but it was Perrier Jouet who created in 1854 the first brut Champagne. The term brut came from “Brutal” and expressed the public’s reaction to this change. And again it was Perrier Jouet who introduced the date on the label, so the vintage. These were real innovators!
The founder family maintains the ownership until half way through the twentieth century when the maison was sold to Mumm and since 2005 it becomes part of the Pernod-Ricard portfolio.
But let’s talk about the floral bottle that for so long kept me away from this Champagne. This too is a fantastic story. It was designed in 1902 by Emile Gallé the most genial and famous creator of art nouveau, practically a symbol of the “Liberty” style. Gallé Paints Japanese anemones by hand on 4 magnums. But the decoration is not apt for a series production, and so the bottles get forgotten in the cellar, until in 1964, when the cellar
master finds them again, and they become the maison’s emblem. A Legend within a legend, the first cuvée “Belle Époque” is sold in 1969 and celebrates the 70t birthday of the Duke Ellington in one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris Alcazar. What a story!
Perrier Jouet’s strength is in its vineyards, 65 hectares, 99% of these in the best crus of the “Sacred Champagne triangle”. But its main pride is the allotments in pure chalk: Bourons Leroy and Bourons du Midi in the Cramant region. These incredible soils give the wine a particular minerality. From the same vineyards come the grapes for the Belle Époque Blanc de Blancs selection used for the personalized bottles, an exclusive series sold in 12 bottle boxes at the price of 50.000€.
Pierret Jouet family’s love of the Art nouveaux style has not only been shown in the bottle designed by Gallé. The founders’ home, now where the winery is based, contains the largest private collection of art nouveau in the world and exhibited above the fireplace is a splendid Rodin.
Among the Perrier-Jouët fans there have been, Queen Victoria, Baudelaire, Grace Princess of Monaco and her son Alberto who chose it to be served at his wedding with Charlene, in 2011.
The Champagne Perrier-Jouët is produced in 7 cuvées, the most affordable is the Grand Brut but the really exceptional ones are Belle Epoque, where the Chardonnay, which is the main variety of the maison, takes on a dominating role.
They are expensive but worth it be it for the quality be it for the experience of drinking something suspended in time.. Perriet Jouet is a super traditionalist and in 200 years of history it has had 7 wine makers who have transmitted the knowledge one to the other.