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Sarah Lau

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Real Pearls

Fortunately the French consider it unrefined to make a toast- otherwise there could be a case for disturbance of the peace in Maison Perrier Jouèt. It is after all typical for the company that maybe one or two glasses more are consumed here than at home.

”There are three intolerable things in life: cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women“, as Orson Welles once said. One thing is certain, the American actor would have felt right at home in the Perrier-Jouët estate. Those who have been fortunate enough to gain access through the art nouveau gateway of the traditional company in French Champagne, will always receive sparkling wine at the perfect temperature.

It has to be said that in the French city of Épernay there is an Avenue de Champagne that is, as it were, the Melrose Place of all renowned Champagne producers. From Moët Chandon to Veuve Cliquot through to Ruinart – an impressive neighborhood around Maison Perrier-Jouët. There is a good reason why all are gathered at one location.

Only those who have their company and more importantly their vines in the earth in this region, have the right to produce sparkling wine and to call it Champagne as well as being allowed to bear the title Appelation d’Origine Protegée on the label. In the case of Perrier-Jouët this has been the case for roughly 200 years and hardly any other company can look back on such a wonderful history.

When Monsieur Thierry opens the door of Maison Belle Époque in his green uniform and produces a winning smile under a twirled moustache, the journey into the past has begun. No one can tell the love story of the former gentlemen of the house as well as the company concierge. It was 1811 when the cork supplier Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and his wife Rose Adélaide Jouët (whose family produced Calvados),founded the company Perrier-Jouët at exactly this spot. A rarity at the time, not least due to the fact that the maiden name of madame was allowed to be integrated, a little sensation. Thanks to Thierry and Brand Education Ambassador Giacomo Fanzio we can learn about the family’s love of the fine arts and nature. Son Charles turned out to be a top botanist, who excelled in his field with 300 types of Orchid and the growth of the vine and also had the honor of presenting the British Queen Victoria with a bottle from his parents company for the first time in 1861. His brother-in-law’s sons, Henri and Octave, then engaged the services of their friend the artist Emile Gallé, who designed the Japanese anemone on the Champagne bottle– the company’s trademark to date. Celebrating life with all its wonderful facets, providing a contrast to the grey of industrialization and making Perrier-Jouët the symbol of the Belle Époque – the era of the beautiful – should in no small measure be attributed to this trio.

At the end of the day there is a particular highlight waiting at the pretty company bar: The cellar master, with the company for a number of years, Hervé Deschamps and his successor Séverine Frerson have just come back from the harvest to attend the final dinner. A gift, because these are obviously people who have devoted their life to the production of premium Champagne, no average representatives. We learn that: „Champagne can be drunk at any time of the day and there should be many more menus with a champagne accompaniment!“ (Hervé) and: „Ladies and gentlemen have a different approach to tasting Champagne – therefore it is always rewarding if both opinions are combined!“ (Séverine).

And while far below us, in the dimly lit cellar passageways behind heavy grille doors the oldest bottle of Champagne in the world is resting (from 1825!) and the Rosé-Champagne composed by Hervé, Grand Brut and Blanc de Blanc, fortunately, no longer have to be part of an American Dinner from 1850. At the time the taste was rather sweet and in one bottle of sparkling wine there was significantly more sugar than in a Coca Cola. „Unpalatable syrup!“, laughs Fanzio.

By the way we have the British Empire to thank for the fact that we in Europe found the right taste path – they had as a colonial power come into contact with strongly spiced Indian dishes and suddenly had a need for refreshing, dry sparkling wine. Only one thing left to say: God save the Queen and – Santé!

 

Photos Copyrights: Perrier Jouët