I’ve always thought the Perrier-Jouët champagne bottle has to be the prettiest one there is. The gorgeous design of anemones swirling over the bottle, fringed with gold is just so pretty, elegant and unique.
It was famous Art Nouveau artist Emile Gallé that created the design in 1902, drawing inspiration from nature to adorn the house’s Belle Epoque prestige cuvée with such an exquisite image. While we’d discovered Mumm was associated with victory and celebration, Perrier-Jouët is identified with nature, art and creation.
The house was established in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier married Rose-Adélaïde Jouët with a strong emphasis on quality and innovation – they were the first to display the vintage year on the bottles and the first to create a ‘brut’ or dry champagne.
Based in Epernay, the Perrier-Jouët cellars are usually closed to the public but we were being offered the rare chance to take a glimpse inside. As soon as I entered the main building I saw beautiful art pieces that characterise Maison Perrier-Jouët.
I also found my bottle – that huge one is a Nebuchadnezzar and can take fifteen litres, the equivalent to 20 bottles of champagne. Apparently it needs to be opened with a spanner and it takes a crane-like device to pour it. I bet it would be great for a party!
Though it was 10am, we started straight away with the still wine tasting. I guess it’s alway midday in Champagne? We were introduced to Hervé Deschamps, the cellar master at Perrier-Jouët, who has been with the house since 1983 becoming cellar master in 1993. He is only the seventh cellar master in the champagne’s 200 year history and he is in charge of the entire Perrier-Jouët range.
We learnt that Chardonnay is the signature grape for Perrier-Jouët and it is used in harmony with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier taken from their 65 hectares of exceptionally good quality vineyards. As with everything at Perrier-Jouët, blending the wines to create the perfect champagnes is seen as an art form and Hervé uses his intuition to conceive Perrier-Jouët’s cuvées. Each still wine came from a different cru (village) and each had a distinctive flavour.
Ever since it’s association with art nouveau, Perrier-Jouët has commissioned art work from new and established artists and these were featured through out the building. As the official partner of Design Miami, Perrier-Jouët commissioned original work for the show such as the above piece by Simon Heidjens.
Delving further into the cellars we came across this gorgeous work of art. Commissioned for Design Miami 2012, the piece is called Lost in Time by a London-based partnership of artists known as Glithero. I loved this work of art and beautiful beads hang like dewdrops that are reflected in the water below. The intention is to create a sense of disorientation and also timelessness.
We were shown this smaller cellar that houses champagnes that have been created bespoke for high-profile celebrities and artists, we saw names such as Nicole Fahri and Marianne Faithful next to the collection of bottles. Isn’t that the ultimate luxury? To have something made especially for you and suiting your exact tastes.
We also saw the Eden cellar which houses the oldest champagne vintages, the oldest being from 1826.
With our palates rested we headed back to the tasting room to try some of the champagnes. The inspiration for the anemone design comes from the fact that each champagne has floral notes and the aroma of white flowers. The Grand Brut tasted of exotic fruit where the signature Belle Epoque 2007 had more citrus flavours. The Blason Rosé which we tried next was a beautiful salmon pink and tasted of strawberries where the Belle Epoque Rose 2006, had notes of grapefruit and pomegranate. I’m no expert on wine tasting but Hervé spoke very passionately about the champagnes and I was certainly able to taste the notes that he described. I had to hold myself back from finishing my glasses as we still have lunch to come and a train journey back to London.
The table was set beautifully for lunch and it felt like being in a conservatory or garden rather than underground.
Isn’t The Enchanting Tree gorgeous? I want one for my flat. Artist Tord Boontje was inspired by the swirling anemones on the bottle to create this beautiful tree sculpture with glasses for blossoms. It’s practical too, as the glasses are suspended in mid-air the champagne remains cool.
The meal that we were about to enjoy was again created by Joséphine Jonot but this time the dishes were inspired by art and the beauty of nature in keeping with the philosophy of Perrier-Jouët.
This lobster dish was a feast for the eyes with the delicious flesh of the lobster mimicking the anemone design on the bottle and set in a tasty cucumber jelly. What really lifted this dish was the addition of the caviar which gave the lobster the perfect level of salt. The seafood dish paired beautifully with the slightly acidic Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut.
Next the signature Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque was poured…
To go with a main course of salty turbot with a seaweed purée and a very light butter sauce; the freshness of the champagne was the perfect pairing with the dish and this was my favourite combination of the weekend.
Finally the Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rosé was poured to accompany the dessert. The Belle Epoque was the favourite of Princess Grace of Monaco and it is still popular there having been served at the wedding of the current monarch Prince Albert II.
A delicious and refreshing coconut surprise dessert of ice cream and fruit, perfect with sweet champagne.
And I couldn’t leave France without at least one macaron!
My trip to Champagne was all too brief but I would love to return soon and see even more of the region and vineyards. What also made the trip so enjoyable was spending time with fellow bloggers; Lucy, Chris, Fiona and Niamh.
I was kindly hosted by Perrier-Jouët for this experience