Perrier Jouet Cuvee Belle Epoque – jeroboams and magnums

  Is there anything nicer then a magnum of champagne? How about a couple of vintage bottles of champagne in jeroboam? I ran into my friend, Neil Phillips, not long ago at the Harper’s Champagne summit held at the Soho Hotel in Central London recently and he twisted my arm  into trying the Perrier-Jouët Cuvée Belle Epoque range of magnums and jeroboams he just happened to have on hand.  As well as being a summit on all things champagne, there was a small selection of exclusive and rare champagnes for us to taste throughout the day long event. One thing I discovered about jeroboams (capacity 3 litres) is that the champagne is decanted into the bigger bottles after it has gone through secondary fermentation. The biggest bottle that a champagne house will do a secondary ferment in is a magnum as anything larger then that and the logistics of containing the fermenting wine inside the bottle become a bit of a nightmare. Imagine jeroboams exploding in the cellar because the pressure was just too high for the glass. There is a champagne house that doesn’t decant and their full nebuchadnazzer (15 litres) specially made bottles can weigh up to 38 kilos ! Some people might complain that decanting the magnums into larger format bottles makes the champagne flat but that is a matter of opinion. As for me, I had the pleasure to taste the 1995 & 1996  in jeroboam and the ‘2002 in magnum Perrier Jouët’s vintage Cuvée Belle Epoque, complete in their flower bedecked bottles. The bottles are even prettier and the flowery motif just seems to work better on the bigger bottles, not that I don’t like the normal sized painted bottles. There are some who say that wine ages best in magnum sized bottles and I am inclined to agree with that assessment. Whether it is because the wine has more room to develop or who knows, really? Once the bottle is sealed we still don’t know what goes on...

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