Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Perrier-Jouët Journey (IV): Maison Belle Epoque - Part 3

The tour of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque maison continues with the part that I am most excited about... a tour of the cellar and to meet Chef de Cave Hervé Deschamps. For those who read my earlier blog entries, you will probably remember my first encounter with Hervé in Singapore, when he was here to host a dinner to celebrate the launch of Belle Epoque 2004.

Chef de Cave Hervé Deschamps - the guardian of the secrets of blending and making Perrier-Jouët champagnes. To me, he is like a magician as he needs to keep the style of the Brut champagnes (non-vintage) consistent despite having grapes from different years. Also, he is like an artist when it comes to Belle Epoque (vintage), where he has to bring out the best of a particular vintage in an expression that is signature of Perrier-Jouët. Last but not least, he is the authority who can declare which year will become a Belle Epoque vintage. If the grapes are not up to his expectations, the grapes from the particular year will not make it to the Belle Epoque cuvees.

The first sight that greeted me before I went down the steps to the cellar already got me all excited. All hail the "By & For", the most exclusive champagne ever created. A bespoke cuvee that is blended by and for the purchaser, using Blanc de Blancs, which is the most precious wine from the range. 12 bottles of these haute champagne will set you back 50,000 euros, and only 100 editions are available to the privileged.

Once I was down at the cellar, we saw this gated area, which we found out shortly that it is the cellar that holds the By&For bottles. Exciting!

Shelves with name boards... and I spotted some famous names

If you are wondering why Gong Li's shelf is empty, it is because she has taken all her 12 bottles of bespoke champagnes.

Another famous name...

The tour continues through the cave. I was told that the entire cave is 10km long but we are only walking though a short part of it.

Bottles and magnums of Perrier-Jouët age quietly while history is being made.

We finally ended up at a new cellar, which is a dedicated area to store the new limited edition Bi-centenaire champagnes.

Hervé was already waiting to open the gate for us to visit this new cellar.

He even opened the safe to show us where the certificates and life journals by the purchasers will be stored.

The safe is empty for now but not for long.

We ended our cellar tour with champagne. Hervé opened a magnum of Belle Epoque 1998 for the group. What a treat!

A pic with the friendly Hervé. His smiley personality is contagious.

There is a retail shop where you get take home some memory of Perrier-Jouët.

To be honest, I was excited about the cellar tour because I have the knowledge from writing all the press releases about champagnes over the years. The champagne making process is an ancient one that is still relevant today. Good things indeed come to those who wait, as champagnes have to be aged for several years before they end up as the bubbly as we know it... and longer for the vintage cuvees.

I hope to be back visiting Perrier-Jouët Maison Belle Epoque soon... very soon.

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