From grapes to glass – The Journey of Perrier-Jouët Champagne
The champagne house of Perrier-Jouët was established in 1811 and is now recognised throughout the world for its beautifully designed floral bottles and incredible taste. When it comes to making champagne, however, it is very much a fine art.
The summer can make or break champagne. For Maison Perrier-Jouët’s signature Chardonnay grape variety, the last harvest yielded beautiful amber-hued fruit to everyone’s delight. Picked in perfect conditions of health and maturity, it had remarkable potential alcohol levels of 10.9 degrees (alcohol by volume). Early analyses point to wines of extremely high quality, while fermentation revealed delicate aromas of fresh, crisp fruit.
The first grapes in the house vineyard were harvested in Dizy on the 24th August 2019. This was unusually early compared with previous years. The grape-pickers then started in Ay on the 25th August, 26th for Mailly and 27th for Avize and Cramant. They started one day early in Dizy, Ay and Mailly than the official date given by CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne), the organisation grouping all those in champagne production and trade.
Picking took between 11 and 13 days and was an extremely intense period of activity that lasted for a record time. Hervé Deschamps, cellar master of Perrier-Jouët, tells us: “I can hardly wait to taste the clear wines in a few months’ time to see if this harvest will indeed live up to our high hopes.”
This year, the quality of the harvest was so high that Perrier-Jouët didn’t need to select the grapes, and it didn’t suffer from any sanitary issue or lack of ripeness. Hervé reveals, “we had a very generous harvest this season, on both the three grape varieties and on each cru. We have started to blend, and it is quite promising. It is still too soon to confirm if we will do a vintage, but our hopes are high. The reserve wines bring roundness to the wine and help to rebuild the house’s style.”
Regarding the cuvée, Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque is always a vintage as it is only produced during the years where the balance between alcohol and acidity is perfect and the ageing potential is outstanding because this cuvée stays at least six years in the cellars. The house’s prestige cuvée is an iconic blend of the three grape varieties: 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier on average. “We have always appreciated Pinot Meunier, which is found in the majority of our cuvées,” Hervé explains.
Perrier-Jouët’s Chardonnays come from the Côte des Blancs and the Pinot Noir comes from Mailly, Verzy and Verzenay in the north of the Montagne de Reims, where it is less sunny and they often harvest last. It also comes from Ay, nearby to Épernay.
The Meunier comes from the house’s own vineyard in Dizy which, with ageing, will bridge the gap between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and allow the blend to gain harmony and richness. “Without the Meunier,” Hervé tells us, “we would get two different expressions at different times. First the Chardonnay and then the Pinot Noir, whereas we are looking to achieve a harmonious expression.”
The Pinot Noir is the pillar of this famous blend. It provides the structure while leaving the Chardonnay on top with its brilliance, elegance, and a lightness that the house insists on finding even after six years of ageing on lees. ‘On lees’ is the process where the wine is left to mature with the tan-coloured dead yeast particles that collect at the bottom of a fermentation vessel.
Perrier-Jouët does not age its reserve wine in barrels. Instead, the blends from previous years are kept in thermoregulated vats at precisely 12°C. Its oldest reserve wines are ten years old. Its classic range, however, rests in the silence of the cellars for up to three years to allow it to attain perfect maturity. After being kept underground for five years, the Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut will evolve and the house then recommends serving it with a meal rather than as an apéritif.
Crafting each cuvée of the range is different. According to the uncompromising principle laid down by the founders, the cellar master only declares a vintage in years of near-perfect conditions. It is different from the classic collection that Hervé Deschamps has to recreate each year. In a way, it can be more challenging to craft a non-vintage cuvée as he must maintain the consistency and the style of the house each year. After the harvest in August, the cellar master starts tasting wines from this harvest from December to February and then creates the blend of the classic range which is served across the world.
Once the champagne has finished ageing and is ready to drink, it is then shipped out to the French Alps where it is stocked in each and every Consensio chalet. As partners of Perrier-Jouët, Consensio is proud to serve its delicious champagne on tap and completely free of charge for all chalet guests. Whether you are enjoying afternoon tea by the fire, or relaxing and recharging in the outdoor heated infinity pool, Perrier-Jouët champagne is the ideal accompaniment. Especially when served in its gorgeous Belle Epoque glasses, specially designed for this world-class champagne.
When staying with Consensio, every evening at the chalet a glass of Perrier-Jouët will await you along with specially prepared mouth-watering canapés. For those wanting something even more special, Consensio also offers a vintage à la carte selection, including the legendary Belle Epoque should you wish to experience the house’s other vintages. Click here to find out more about Consensio’s partnership with Perrier-Jouët.