The Maison Belle Epoque of Perrier Jouet

May 23, 14 The Maison Belle Epoque of Perrier Jouet

The avenue de Champagne in Epernay is a long and elegant stretch lined with some of the biggest and most famous Houses of Champagne, each behind an imposing gate behind which stand some of the most beautiful examples of 19th century architecture.

Staircase - Maison Belle Epoque

Staircase – Maison Belle Epoque

There is one house that stands out due to its simplicity. Set behind a high wall and iron gates, sits a 2 story white building built around a courtyard. Unbenowst to the casual passer-by, behind the doors lies the largest collection of Art Nouveau in Europe. It is the former home of Perrier family and has now been turned into the Maison Belle Epoque by Perrier-Jouët.

Maison Belle Epoque

Maison Belle Epoque

Perrier-Jouët tasked two international experts, Camard and Marcihac, to search the auction houses of the world for Art Nouveau works. They were able to acquire over 200 pieces of art, furniture, tableware and lamps. Pieces of art by Gallé, Majorelle, Rodin, Daum, Lalique and others are found throughout the house.

Maison Belle Epoque

Maison Belle Epoque

Maison Belle Epoque

Maison Belle Epoque

Walking into the house, it does take your breath away and I have to admit, just standing in the same room with some of the furniture, I was afraid I was going to break something. The Maison is used by Perrier-Jouët as a guesthouse for its most important visitors when they come to visit but I don’t know think I would use anything if I stayed there. They have one of the most expensive beds in the world, valued at over 300,000 dollars (designed and signed by Gallé) in one of the guest rooms. Even the toilets were too pretty to use.

Maison Belle Epoque - bathroom

Maison Belle Epoque – bathroom

Maison Belle Epoque - the loo

Maison Belle Epoque – the loo

Art Nouveau is not the only art that Perrier- Jouët is interested in. Founded in 213, the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon is intended to generate lively debate within the art world and select an annual prize winner in contemporary craft. This year’s winner is:

Laura Youngson Coll. Laura is a contemporary maker in leather and vellum, based in London who was selected by the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon members from a shortlist of 10 candidates for her fulfilment of the criteria: To evoke a contemporary interpretation of the ethos of the Champagne House Perrier-Jouët, reflecting its Art Nouveau heritage, with work inspired by natural forms and organic structures.

Laura’s work will be on displayed at Contemporary Applied Arts…”which is London’s original multi-disciplinary applied arts gallery which champions and promotes only the very best of British craft…” Her work will be on display from 25 June – 31 August.

art installation in the cellars

art installation in the cellars

After all that art, we were a bit thirsty and so sat down to a tasting with one of Perrier-Jouët’s winemakers. The house owns 65 hectares of land with a rating of 99.2% which means that the grapes that come from these plots are classified almost exclusively as Grand Cru. These plots supply over a third of the grapes needed for production with the remainder coming from winegrowers that the House as worked with for generations.

hand painted wallpaper in the Billiard room

hand painted wallpaper in the Billiard room

Perrier-Jouët’s house style is elegance and finesse which they believe comes from the chardonnay grape. However, they do use all 3 grapes of Champagne and find that pinot meunier gives elegance and freshness to the blend.

an original Rodin

an original Rodin

Interestingly, their Grand Brut NV is 55% pinot meunier with the remainder split between pinot noir and chardonnay. They don’t use much reserve wine in this one as they want a champagne with finesse and a “laciness” to it. It is rather light on the palate with a certain delicacy to it. Very easy to drink. This is a champagne for people who say they don’t like chamapagne, smooth and elegant.

vase- Maison Belle Epoque

vase- Maison Belle Epoque

Next we tasted the 2006 Belle Epoque, one of the first prestige cuvees and first released to celebrate the birthday of Duke Ellington. A blend of chardonnay and pinot noir it has only 6 grams sugar per litre it is quite fine and elegant with a honeyed nose and distinct mineral notes on the palate along balanced out with fine fruit and a long finish.

tasting and map of Perrier Jouet vineyards

tasting and map of Perrier Jouet vineyards

The Belle Epoque blanc de blanc 2002 was certainly one of my favourites. The grapes came from two cru only, Cramant and Avize. Sticking my nose in the glass I was hit by a honeyed, sweet white flower nose reminiscent of magnolias with plenty of fruits on the palate and a long and sleek chalky finish.

Belle Epoque Blanc de blanc in the cellar

Belle Epoque Blanc de blanc in the cellar

Perrier-Jouët also produce rosé champagne and we tried the Blason rosé first. A blend of 20 different crus, the pinot noir used comed from the Montagne de Reims mostly and is a delight to drink. Starting with a fresh and fruity creme de cassis nose, the theme continues on the palate with red fruits and a streak of minerality. The house uses 10- 12% of reserve wines for this one.

entrance to the cellar

entrance to the cellar

The Belle Epoque 2004 rosé is a blend of 50% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay and 10% pinot  meunier and it is certainly a more complex rosé. A floral nose with hints of cherries is followed by a palate that has a savoury quality to it, with fine minerality and strawberry, red currant and raspberries all competing with a saline note hanging over it all. This is a serious rosé. After awhile, spicy notes began to emanate from the glass, making it all the more enticing. This champagne most likely owes it freshness to the fact that only 6% of reserve wines were used it the blend.

That was the last of the tasting and a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: