Since its foundation in 1811, the House of Champagne Perrier-Jouët has been producing boutique wines which combine unparalleled refinement and finesse with ‘Belle Epoque’ art de vivre.
The legendary consistency of its signature Champagne style, shaped by the exceptional quality and elegance of its Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes, stems from the guardianship of just seven cellar masters in nearly two hundred years; the last 20 of those under master Chef de Cave Herve Deschamps.
The avant-garde spirit for which Champagne Perrier-Jouët is fêted finds its purest expression in the iconic anemone bottle of its prestige cuvée, ‘Belle Epoque’, designed in 1902 by art-nouveau master Emile Gallé.
This creative philosophy has earned Perrier-Jouët a cult following, resonating across the social spectrum from decadent bohemia to refined luxury and attracting such eclectic admirers as Oscar Wilde and Coco Chanel.
Perrier-Jouët was founded in 1811 by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier, who added the maiden name of his wife, Adele Jouët, to create the house.
Established in the heart of Épernay, Perrier-Jouët quickly began to build an international following from its success in exporting to foreign markets. Early entry to the UK (1815) meant that by 1847 exports represented nearly ninety per cent of House sales.
This European success allowed the family to increase their vineyard holdings, hand-picking land in the Grand Cru villages of Aÿ, Avize, Cramant, Mailly. When replanting vines they focused on Chardonnay, bringing the lightness to the Perrier-Jouët wines which is still a characteristic of the wines today.
A relentless commitment to quality throughout the latter half of the 19th century saw the House pioneer such initiatives as the early development of Brut-style Champagne and, in bad vintages like 1879, a policy of not releasing any Champagne at all.
This pursuit of excellence was witnessed by official recognition from the Royal Courts of France, UK and Russia and the auction, at Christie’s in 1888, of the 1874 vintage as the most expensive bottle of Champagne in the world.
A seminal moment in the House’s history came in 1902, when Art Nouveau artist Emile Gallé designed the now iconic Belle Epoque anemone bottle, to capture and reflect the vibrancy and spirit of that exciting era.
Unbelievably, the design became forgotten in the labyrinthine cellars, until its revival with the launch of Perrier-Jouët’s prestige cuvée ‘Belle Epoque’ in 1969 at Maxim’s and Duke Ellington’s 70th birthday at L’Alcazar.
To this day, the House honours the early commitment to excellence of its founders and continues to act as guardians of the unique Belle Epoque spirit.
Recent milestones, such as launching the first tailor-made cuvée “By & For” and uncorking the world’s oldest Champagne (PJ Vintage 1825) at last year’s legendary ‘200 Year Tasting’, show that this philosophy is still intact after 200 years and will, no doubt, continue to thrive in the future…
History in brief
• 1811 – House founded by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier with wife Adele Jouët
• 1815 – First UK exports of Perrier-Jouët Champagne
• 1825 – Nicolas Perrier becomes Mayor of Epernay
• 1846 – ‘Brut’ style of Champagne pioneered by Perrier-Jouët to suit palate of UK customers. This initiates departure from previous sweet Champagne style to the brut style enjoyed universally today.
• 1858 – Perrier-Jouët one of first to stamp vintage year on corks & labels to prevent counterfeit
• 1861 – Queen Victoria awards the Royal Warrant to her favourite Champagne house
• 1902 – Emile Gallé, leading light of ‘Art Nouveau’ designs iconic PJ Anemone bottle
• 1969 – Cuvée Belle Epoque 1964 launched in rediscovered Anemone bottle at Duke Ellington’s 70th Birthday at L’Alcazar, Paris
• 2008 – Perrier-Jouët introduce world’s first bespoke cuvée – Belle Epoque “By & For”
• 2009 – Legendary ‘200 year Tasting’ held by Perrier-Jouët, featuring world’s oldest Champagne from 1825
• 2011 – Bicentenary Year
Maison Belle Epoque
The Maison Belle Epoque in Epernay is the private chateau of the Perrier-Jouët family and houses one of the world’s foremost collections of Art Nouveau masterpieces.
A dedicated global campaign to reunite pieces from the Belle Epoque era saw the creation of one of the world’s genuinely unique properties: a living testimony to the era, featuring works from such great Art Nouveau protagonists as Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Lalique, Majorelle and Hector Guimard, creator of the famed Paris Metro iconography.
Most notably, it is home to many original works by Emile Gallé, friend of the House and designer of the original Belle Epoque Anemone bottle in 1902.
Great wines are made first in the vineyard, and afterwards in the winery…
Since 1809, Perrier-Jouët has acquired 65 hectares in the finest viticultural areas of the Champagne region, including large holdings in the top Cote des Blancs villages of Cramant and Avize, which produce the Chardonnay which underpins the Perrier-Jouët signature style.
Perrier-Jouët’s vineyards feature mature vines (23 years old on average) and have been awarded an average rating of 99.2% on the Grand Cru classification scale.
In the final PJ blend, the Chardonnay component creates the elegance and finesse, complemented by the structure of Pinot Noir (from Ay and Mailly, north of the Montagne de Reims) and the essential fruit and roundness derived from a judicious touch of Pinot Meunier (from Dizy in the Vallee de la Marne).
It is this delicate marriage, masterminded by Hervé Deschamps, of hand-picked, traditionally-pressed grapes from Grand Cru vineyards which yields the balance and refinement for which the House’s Champagnes are rightfully renowned.
Perrier-Jouët owns some 10 kilometres of Gallo-Roman cellars dug deep (up to 30m) into the chalk below the Avenue de Champagne, in the heart of Epernay.
Here some 12 million bottles are slowly maturing at the constant natural temperature of 11 degrees Celsius.
These conditions are ideal for long ageing and extremely valuable to the House, given Perrier-Jouët’s policy to mature their NV for a minimum of two and a half years and higher styles for a minimum of six years before releasing them to market.
Chef de Cave
Cellar Master Hervé Deschamps is only the seventh Chef de Cave of Perrier-Jouët in nearly two centuries. He succeeded André Bavaret in 1993, after a decade of apprenticeship.
To learn more about Perrier-Jouët read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Philippe Guettat.