Based in its beautiful Art Nouveau building in the heart of Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, Perrier-Jouët produces elegant and supple champagnes characterized by very distinctive floral notes. Its prestige cuvée Belle Epoque with its famous bottle engraved with Japanese anemones is iconic, and emblem of this house’s historical association with the arts and nature. Perrier-Jouët is part of alcoholic beverages group Pernod Ricard that also owns Mumm, another great Champagne house.
Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier, the son of a vine grower and a cork supplier based in Épernay, married in 1810 Rose Adélaide Jouët, the daughter of a wine merchant. A year later, they founded their Champagne house that carries their family names. Adélaide focused on vineyards and winemaking while Pierre focused on sales and marketing. The house quickly built an international crowd of followers, particularly in England and the United States, which remains key markets.
This success allowed them to increase the size of their vineyard, in grands crus villages such as Aÿ, Avize, Cramant, and Mailly. When replanting the vines, they focused on chardonnay, bringing lightness to the Perrier-Jouët wines, which is still characteristic of its champagnes today.
Charles Perrier succeeded to his parents in 1854 and strengthened the house’s presence in England where it became an official supplier to the Queen. There he introduced the first dry champagne without any dosage in 1856, which resulted in the first brut champagne of history.
After Charles’ death, his nephews Henri and Octave Gallice took the helm. They were both art lovers, but while Henri managed the family business in Épernay, Octave spent much of this time in Paris, in the midst of the Belle Epoque, a period at the start of the 20th century of economic prosperity, cultural innovations, and flourishing of the arts. In Paris, he met Emile Gallé, one of the pioneers of the Art Nouveau movement, the revolutionary artistic expression of the period. At Octave’s request, Gallé created a design for Perrier-Jouët, drawing on their passion for botany and flowers. In 1902, he designed a bottle with its distinctive Japanese white anemones, becoming the iconic emblem of the house.
After the hardships of WW1 and WW2, Mumm acquired Perrier-Jouët in 1956. Today, both houses are part of Pernod Ricard, the world’s second-largest group in wine and spirits production and distribution. His Chef de Cave Hervé Deschamps has been in the position since 1983, ensuring the high quality and continuity in the wines.
Vineyard and Production
Perrier-Jouët owns 65 ha ranked at an average of 99.2% on the crus quality scale. Forty are planted with chardonnay in the grands crus of Cramant and Avize, on mid-slope and exposed south-southeast, favoring excellent maturities, for chardonnays with generous white floral aromas that underpin the house’s signature style. The pinots noirs come from the Montagne de Reims and the meuniers from the Vallée de la Marne. They rely on external supplies to craft about 3 million bottles per year. The vinifications are gentle, in thermoregulated stainless steel vats, with full malolactic fermentation. Hervé Deschamps explains that the use of reserve wines is limited and very careful not to bring toasted oxidative notes; they are reserves from previous blends, which help to rebuild the house style each year. All their non-vintage champagnes age for a minimum of two-and-a-half to three years.
Chardonnay, a floral, elegant and refined grape variety, is at the core of the Perrier-Jouët signature light style with very distinctive flower scents. Pinot noir is used to bring structure, and meunier to bring roundness and fruitiness. The resulting champagnes are very easy and pleasant to drink.
The range is focused and clear. The non-vintage wines include a brut, a rosé, and a blanc de blancs, all carrying noticeable and pleasant floral aromas. I have a real crush for the latter, rounder and more charming than most young blanc de blancs. Belle Epoque, the vintage prestige cuvée is also available in rosé and blanc de blancs. I find it spectacular under all its versions.