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Champagne Legend | Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs @ sketch ***

Björnstierne Antonsson

Björnstierne Antonsson

The rarest of Perrier-Jouët’s cuvées, Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs comes from just two vineyards in the Côte des Blancs. Upon the release of the 2012 vintage, TheChampagneSomemlier aka Björnstierne Antonsson went to London for a spectacular evening of Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs from Perrier-Jouët. The venue for the extravagant tasting & dinner is the stylish three star Michelin restaurant Sketch by legendary chef Pierre Gagnaire in Londons Mayfair.

Estimated reading time: 20 minutes

Release of vintage 2012 of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de blancs

For this occasion, Séverine Frerson officially introduced this cuvée during a unique experience in London : a guided visit of a floral garden where she will explained her floral inspirations for this cuvée, and a signature menu created by Pierre Gagnaire in his London restaurant Sketch (3 Michelin stars) paired with a vertical tasting of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de blancs. The dinner was hosted by Séverine Frerson (cellar master since 2020) and head sommelier Alexandre Freguin (UK best sommelier 2018).

sketch

London

***

The Lecture Room and Library is one of the rooms in his Sketch restaurant in London. With a dress code of “art smart”, the gastronomic restaurant room was created by Gabhan O’Keeffe and provides a spacious and relaxing atmosphere. 

Pierre has embraced the idea that food is art. He marks his “eras” by a dish and the year of its creation. This ensures he remains relevant in the ever-changing world. Food is not just something that needs to taste good, it needs to be “poetry on a plate”, and the visual presentation of his food is extremely important.Dishes combine a variety of traditional ingredients and flavours in such a refined way that they emerge as pieces of artwork. Executed by chef Johannes Nudig in Pierre’s absence, the cuisine never falters and always showcases the finest quality of taste and aesthetics, punctuated by bold and imaginative highlights. With 11 restaurants to juggle around the world, Pierre ensures that they are to his standard by being very personally involved in all the projects and people.

[source thestaffcanteen]

Pierre Gagnaire

Coming from a family of restaurant owners, food was always in Pierre Gagnaire’s blood. The French native currently has three Michelin stars and 5 AA Rosettes at Sketch (The Lecture Room & Library).

In 1976, Pierre won his first Michelin star. In 1981, he went solo and opened his own restaurant Aux Passementiers, in Saint-Etienne, which won him 2 Michelin stars. In 1992, he opened a second restaurant, restaurant Pierre Gagnaire.

However, this did not work out for Pierre and he found himself bankrupt in 1996, and he left for Paris. With the support of his friends, he opened another restaurant under his name in Paris. Just 2 years later, he won 3 Michelin stars. This then led to him opening restaurants worldwide, including London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Dubai and Los Angeles.  He also has two Michelin-starred Pierre Gagnaire Gastronomic Restaurant in Le Grande Maison in Bordeaux, headed up by Jean-Denis Lebras.

producer profile by Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin

Perrier-Jouët

★★★★ 

This domain was established in 1811 by Pierre-Nicholas-Marie Perrier-Jouët. The company became famous under its nickname P-J under the leadership of his son Charles. In 1950 Mumm bought a majority shareholding in the company and the domain became part of the Canadian Seagram Group. The domain was owned for a time by Allied Domecq who, as soon as they took over, alarmingly dug up large portions of the domain’s fine old vines at Cramant. Michel Budin, who led the firm up until the 1980s, was a great admirer of Art Nouveau and opened a Belle Epoque museum in 1990, twenty years after launching the cuvée de prestige of the same name.

Nowadays the company is owned by Pernod-Ricard. Jean-Marie Barillere is president at present and Hervé Deschamps recently left his place as chef du cave to Séverine Frereson. Belle Epoque has become a great success everywhere, and the Americans and Japanese in particular have fallen for the flower-bedecked bottle. The domain owns 108 hectares at seven villages, and the other 65 per cent of the grapes are purchased from forty villages. The most important village is Cramant, where the firm owns twenty-nine hectares of the very best slopes. In contrast to other big domains, the heritage has been managed well. The vines are very old and produce fantastic grapes that can dominate an entire cuvée, even if their proportion is small, and the delicate domain-style is very dependent on these Chardonnay grapes. The vintage wine is a toasted classic, and both the Belle Epoque wines are a great source of joy to the romantic wine lover. The 1985 Belle Epoque Rosé was voted as the foremost rosé of all time at the Millennium Tasting.

The new Belle Époque Blanc de Blancs is exquisitely mellow and caressing with a colossal syrupy intensity made up of sweet base tones that are at the same time lifted by lemon and juiciness. Sensual and fascinating. A 1998 Belle Epoque magnum was our engagement champagne at Lake Luzern in May 2012.

What is art nouveau ?

Art Nouveau was an international movement, known as Modernista in Spain, Jugendstil in Germany, Secession in Austria and Slovenia, Stile Liberty in Italy and – after the name of one of its exponents – Tiffany in the United States.

It rose to prominence in Barcelona and Brussels in the late 1880s thanks to the work of pioneering architects like Antoni Gaudi and Victor Horta, and went on to influence all visual arts, especially the decorative arts. It also drew on the works and theories of the Englishman William Morris, who had drawn a strong distinction between craftsmanship and the mass production of industry that was indifferent to aesthetic concerns.

Art Nouveau spread rapidly throughout Europe – in France it was propagated by Emile Gallé’s Ecole de Nancy – before declining in 1914, with the outbreak of World War I. As fleeting as it was, this stylistic adventure – a reaction to the excesses of industrialisation – struck a chord: Art Nouveau offered extraordinary liberty, a joyous creative spirit and a comforting sense of enchanting possibility.

Who was Emile Gallé ?

Emile Gallé was one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement. In 1912 he designed a bottle for Perrier-Jouët featuring Japanese anemones. This design has become world famous and still graces the bottles of our Cuvée Belle Epoque champagnes. Emile Gallé travelled to Japan several times in his life and took a great deal of inspiration from Japanese art and flowers. The Japanese influence was one of the predominant themes in the Art Nouveau movement. Other famous artists from the Art Nouveau movement include Hector Guimard, Louis Majorelle and Lalique.


Was nature a source of inspiration for the artists of the Belle Epoque ?

Art Nouveau’s elegant embellishments were developed to counteract the graceless shapes of the early industrial age, and the movement looked to the natural world for inspiration. The natural shapes and structures of flowers and plants, and even insects and animals, were used in Art Nouveau.

Perrier-Jouët also takes its inspiration from nature, and the Art Nouveau anemone design of its Cuvée Belle Epoque is a fitting symbol of the brand. Nature is at the heart of the Perrier-Jouët experience.

Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs according to Séverine Frerson

Floral · Mineral

Of all Perrier-Jouët cuvées, Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the most emblematic – the culmination of the House’s 200-year expertise in revealing the intricate floral facets of its signature Chardonnay grape. A sublime champagne shimmering with golden light, its mineral freshness and purity are the exhilarating prelude to an explosion of lush floral notes.

‘Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs reminds me of a white freesia, not only for its vibrant personality,
but also for its structure and elegance.

SÉVERINE FRERSON

Maison Perrier-Jouët Cellar Master

The Story

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs was originally created from the 1993 harvest and re-leased to celebrate the new millennium – a sym- bolic moment for a landmark launch. True to the exacting principles of its founders, Maison Per- rier-Jouët only declares a vintage in years of near- perfect conditions, making all its Belle Epoque vintage cuvées a rarity, with Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs the rarest of them all.

The Terroir

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is crafted from 100% Chardonnay grapes from a maximum of three prestigious Grand Cru terroirs in the Côte des Blancs: the House’s three pillars, Cramant, Avize and Chouilly. The village of Cra- mant encompasses two legendary plots, Bouron Leroi and Bouron du Midi, which were among the first acquired by Maison Perrier-Jouët in the mid-19th century, when Charles Perrier, the son of the founders, used his extensive knowledge of viti- culture and the terroirs of Champagne to identify their potential for yielding the supreme expression of the Chardonnay grape. The Grand Cru terroirs selected for Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs are notable for their pure-chalk soils, which lend this cuvée its distinctive minerality.

The Taste

“Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is a vibrant and distinguished wine, with a natural authority, says Séverine Frerson. Pure and pre- cise, delicate and complex, it has an elegant, silken texture, almost infinite length on the palate, and – last but by no means least – great potential for ageing.”

The Moment

“Obviously, Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is an exceptional champagne for exceptional celebrations, says Séverine Frerson. I consider it a wine for gastronomy, ideally paired with noble seafood – a carpaccio of scallops with citrus zest, seabass in a salt crust, turbot, lobster or langous- tines, for example.”

‘For its elegance, its refinement and its wonderful silken texture, I associate Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs with a white orchid, my favourite flower.

Maison Perrier-Jouët Cellar Master

Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs

‘Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs is a free spirit – vibrant, dynamic, independent. Bright and fresh as the morning dew, it is the perfect champagne to serve as an aperitif, to celebrate the first day of spring.’

SÉVERINE FRERSON
MAISON PERRIER-JOUËT CELLAR MASTER

Richard Juhlin on ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs

‘I do not know whether my nagging at this firm to make a Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs has has any effect on them to release a pure Chardonnay from mainly Cramant grapes at last. 

Since 2000 vintage it is from the old vines at Bourrons Leroy and Bourrons du Midi in the heart of Cramant that Belle Epoque’s fantastic elegance is derived. In 2000 former chef de caves Hervé Deschamps chose to separate these grapes utterly and completely in order to make a super blanc de blancs. He succeeded! Without a doubt one of the bull’s eyes of the vintage, with an incomparable, chalky elegance combined with silky smooth butteriness as though from a young Chevalier-Montrachet.

The flavour is deliciously mellow and caressing with a colossal syrupy intensity of sweet basic tones that at the same time are elevated by lemon and juiciness. Sensual and fascinating.’

the wine list

2012 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs’

THE VINTAGE 2012

★★★★

A really tricky growing season with many difficulties still had a happy ending. After frost problems, excess rain and cold, the ripening period was the driest since 1974. The harvest was small but very fine and gave balanced, elegant and good-looking wines with a youthful potent fruit. Many are very appealing from the start but should be stored for a while for full maturity. Most, however, should be drunk between twelve and twenty years old when the real power is lacking. The main specimens released so far are Cristal, Cristal Rosé, La Grande Dame, De Sousa Caudalies, Piper-Heidsieck, Belle Époque, Bollinger La Grande Année, Thineot / Penfolds Blanc de Blancs and Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé. It is noteworthy that Krug chose to forgo vintage wine this year and instead opted for a very nice Krug Grande Cuvée with 2012 as a base.


TASTING NOTE ‘What to say about this wonderful wine that has not already been said? New vintage launched in London in June ’22. Fresh green-yellow and crackling jasmine floral and lemon-scented bouquet. There is also Tahitian vanilla, bergamot, joss and white chocolate. The taste of course also has a nice dose of the purest chalk from Cramant. How to create something so floral and fresh and at the same time get a creaminess that borders on a cream cake in liquid form is beyond comprehension. Absolutely lovely as a young player and even deeper in 10 years.

Served with spring herb bouillon; petit pois. broad beans, French asparagus tips, braised butterhead lettuce, spring onions and golden raisins.’

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]

2007 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs’

VINTAGE 2007

★★★

An exceptional one in terms of the weather. The very mild winter and spring led to early flowering. The summer that followed was rainy, and several areas were hit by hail. The cold and wet weather caused a lot of mildew, but the harvest was still weak. It has far too much apple peel aroma in order to be properly assessed at the moment. Otherwise, it feels as if we are dealing with a satisfactory vintage but one that hardly will be able to create goosebumps. The grand ones will probably take several years before they begin to show themselves, but many of the ecologically oriented growers seem to have really good 2007s. Eccentric Jérôme Prévost has succeeded sensationally well with Bérèche et Fils, David Léclapart, and J-L Vergnon.


TASTING NOTE ‘Giant glorious champagne so flowingly rich that you are dazzled by the vanilla-powdered nectar-like tasteful essence. Yellow juicy fruit with notes of coconut, mango and burgundy buttercream. Chardonnay in its essence. However, be careful and avoid sunbeams at all costs as the clear bottle too often gets white-moldy notes of Gôut de lumière.

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]


2006 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque

VINTAGE 2006

★★★★

The summer started well with plenty of sunshine and heat in June and July. August, however, came with low temperatures and twice as much rain. The harvest period was stretched over an unusually long time in the district. Here is a completely different balance from the one in 2005. The scent is grand and inviting but with an elevating element present and a completely different three-dimensional mouth-feel. The acidity lifts a mature and nice vintage very high. The next few years will make a series of cellar-friendly 2006s pop up. Vouette & Sorbée, GH Mumm, and Louis Roederer have already shown what to expect.


TASTING NOTE ‘Giant glorious champagne so flowingly rich that you are dazzled by the vanilla-powdered nectar-like tasteful essence. Yellow juicy fruit with notes of coconut, mango and burgundy buttercream. Chardonnay in its essence. However, be careful and avoid sunbeams at all costs as the clear bottle too often gets white-moldy notes of Gôut de lumière.

Served with native lobster fricassee rolled in brown butter, curried vegetables, coconut shavings, diced Gold Rucsh apples.’

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]


2004 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque

VINTAGE 2004

★★★

A mild spring followed by a summer with unstable weather. Fortunately, the first weeks of September were hot and sunny and created good prospects for the harvest. In my opinion, the wines have a good structure with a rather floral bouquet but with a bit rough, stony mineral profile. The charm is missing, and it needs a fairly long storage before the cavities are filled in.

Promising favorites that have reached the market include prestige champagnes from Thierry Perrion, Diebolt-Vallois, David Léclapart, and of course Jacques Selosse. Among the big elephants that are launched, I choose Mumm de Cramant, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, Dom Pérignon, and Louis Roederer Cristal.


TASTING NOTE ‘The legendary magnum that Richard Juhlin used at a Champagen Hiking at Mossman River in Australia. Pure magic and one of the most legendary Champagne Hikings ever. (see link below).

The vinothèque-magnum served for dinner @ Sketch in June’22 was an outstanding crunchy hand-dived scallop, tempura of chicory leaves & Italian fine beans, Jersey Royal potatoes cream scented with confit of organic lemon. Buttery, hazy, exotic and vanilla-saturated as it should be.

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]


2002 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs’

VINTAGE 2002

★★★★

As in Bourgogne, this is a beautiful and gener- ous vintage with a bright future in store. It is the first time that I start to feel a tad old in the game. Because I have tried the vintage before in my life! Yes, the 2002 is so strikingly similar to the 1982 that I think I can predict the vintage’s whole life curve. I believe in a very linear curve without ups and downs. The wine will eventually become more buttery and fatter, with a relatively high acidity, and it will do its job in silence. The wines will reach their top at twenty to thirty years of age.

Most promising so far are many growers such as Egly-Ouriet, Michel Arnould, Pierre Gimonnet & Fils, Jacques Selosse, and Diebolt-Vallois. Amour the Deutz, Piper-Heidsieck, Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Blanc de Blancs, and Louis Roederer Cristal are pure nectar, but the most intellec- tually challenging are Jacquesson’s vineyard wines Champ Cain and Vauzelle de Terme.


TASTING NOTE ‘It has a beautiful oily concentration, but also an elusive different style that not everyone likes at the moment. Meaty tones mixed with petroleum, citrus and meringue. Leave there for a couple of years and enjoy the upcoming harmony. Most recently, it was magical.

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]


2000 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs’

VINTAGE 2000

★★★

A warm and wet winter was followed by an equally wet spring. First, in May, came the serious heat, which gave a fast flowering around June 14. Chlorosis and mold growth were evident. June and August were hot and dry. But if you were like me, and tried to have a July vacation in Champagne that year, you noticed how cold and rainy it was. The weather was almost as bad as at home, with constant rain and local hailstorms. Everything looked hopeless, but the good weather during harvest saved a decent amount of fresh grapes. Harvest started on my birthday – September 11 – and ended in early October. Chardonnay and pinot meunier did better than the delicate pinot noir. The year will become sought after thanks to their magic number. The quality does not look too fancy yet though. The wines are quite light with short lives. However, it is a very enjoyable moment, with its intense exotic aromas of passion fruit and tangerine. I am delighted to recommend some romantic bottles of the successful pink trio William Deutz Rosé, Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé, and Pommery Cuvée Louise Rosé.


TASTING NOTE ‘It is from the old vines at Bourrons Leroy and Bourrons du Midi in the heart of Cramant that Belle Epoque’s fantastic elegance is derived. In 2000 Deschamps chose to separate these grapes utterly and completely in order to make a super blanc de blancs. He has succeeded! Without a doubt one of the bull’s eyes of the vintage, with an incomparable, chalky elegance combined with silky smooth butteriness as though from a young Chevalier-Montrachet.

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]


1999 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs’

VINTAGE 1999

★★★

Regardless of how the wines were going to turn out, it was already predetermined that this vin- tage would become historic and much sought after. Imagine yourself toasting the upcoming New Year’s Eve with foaming wine made from grapes from the last Millennium’s last harvest. It happened to be that the forces of the weather were on the Champagne wine growers’ side, and in a similar manner as occurred in 1982, the quantity and quality succeeded by going hand in hand. In terms of style, there are many talking about something between a 1982 and the super-rich wine of 1989. The grapes’ matu- rity level was astounding, and the only thing that worries me a bit is the low content of malic acid. From the 1989 vintage, only the wines that are a product of careful wine making and careful selection have lived up to the vintage’s hyped reputation. Most likely, this is also the case with the 1999s. Bollinger argues that 1999 brought a very uneven vintage of which the difference in quality among grand cru and premier cru and other villages are even more pronounced than usual. Today, the vintage feels like a slight disappointment and has been surpassed by the quality of the 1998s. Several growers, like Paul Déthune and Larmandier-Bernier, show the front feet, but both Louis Roederer’s Cristal are hard to beat, delicious morsels.


TASTING NOTE ‘I do not know whether my nagging at this firm to make a Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs has has any effect on them to release a pure Chardonnay from mainly Cramant grapes at last. Whatever the case, I opened this lovely-as-a-fairytale bottle with great expectations. Unfortunately I was very disappointed by the cardboardy aroma and became even more surprised when the flavour was later fantastic. Any assessment is thus almost impossible to make. Must be tasted again to see if the aroma is supposed to be purer. The flavour is deliciously mellow and caressing with a colossal syrupy intensity of sweet basic tones that at the same time are elevated by lemon and juiciness. Sensual and fascinating.

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]


VINTAGE 1993

★★

Heavy rains at harvest destroyed the hope of a good harvest. The winemakers were becoming impatient—three years in a row without vintage quality! Because the quality was decent with a high acidity, most made vintage wine anyway. I do not have a single 1993 in my cellar, but I would hardly say no to a Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée or Pol Roger Winston Churchill from this vintage.


1993 Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque’

TASTING NOTE ‘The first commercial vintage of this wonderful wine is without a doubt the worst as it comes from an at least odd vintage with some spicy green notes. Still of course butterscotch dripping and filled with honey saffron and white chocolate with relatively light color and nice small bubbles. At the London tasting however we where served a vinothèque-bottle in perfect condition! The feather light style in total balance with the creaminess was outstanding.

Served with Roasted ‘Poulette de Rarcane’ chicken breast with silver thyme, braised fresh morels, a pinch of ‘praline’, grilled Tropea onion, ages Parmesan, soft apricot, caramelized hazelnuts and almonds.’

[for scores check out our updated tasting database]

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