Finest French champagne: Interview with Perrier-Jouët’s Chef-de-Cave, Herve Deschamps
The delicious glass of champagne is enjoyed by many but few know just what it takes to bring the drink to the masses, like Perrier-Jouët’s chief winemaker himself
No celebration is complete without a glass of bubbly in hand to toast to the occasion and champagne house Perrier-Jouët knows how to serve up a delectable glass like no one else. With its chief wine-maker, Herve Deschamps, as the man in charge, each bottle serves only the finest that the Maison has to offer. We spend some time with the man who has over 20 years of experience in his field to learn more about the brand, his role and what makes Perrier-Jouët the perfect pairing for any occasion.
Tell us about the origins of the Perrier-Jouët Maison.
Ever since its foundation, Maison Perrier-Jouët’s history has been like a myth; and this fabulous tale started in 1811. That year, Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose Adélaïde Jouët got married and founded their Champagne House. Inspired by a constant quest for perfection and a passion for nature, and recognized thanks to the unique character of its wines, Perrier-Jouët has turned the champagne tradition into a homage to art: doubtlessly because it has never stopped in its attempt to add beauty to everyday life.
You are one of the most iconic Chef-de-Cave in Champagne. What brought you to Perrier-Jouët?
Born in 1956 into a family from the Champagne region, I studied agriculture and oenology at Dijon, going on to earn degrees in both agronomy and oenology. I completed my studies with work on nutrition and food sciences, before joining Perrier-Jouët in 1983 as oenologist in charge of the fermentation process and the cellar ageing of wines. I was soon appointed as assistant to Cellars Master André Baveret, the guardian of the Perrier-Jouët House style for almost 30 years. During that time, I learned much about the art of blending the various Champagne wines while retaining the hallmark charm and elegance of Perrier-Jouët’s cuvées.
As a guarantor of Perrier-Jouët’s know-how, I have been awarded Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in February 2016.
Perrier-Jouët is a House where we take care of tradition and love for beautiful wine. The continuity of more than three decades in the style of the cuvee where finesse and elegance are essential made me become a Champagne cellar master associated to an iconic house.
What distinguishes Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque from the rest of the Perrier-Jouët range ?
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque is different from the other cuvees because of its blending, where it is more focused on Chardonnay, the grape with white flowers and citrus fruit aromas. It is the finest and most delicate of grapes used to create Champagne.
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque is always a vintage : it is only produced during the years where the balance between alcohol and acidity is perfect and that the ageing potential is outstanding, because this cuvee stays at least 6 years in our cellars.
Perrier-Jouët is famous for its Art Nouveau styled bottles. Tell us more about the close association between Perrier-Jouët and the art world that started in the 1920s ?
Creation is the DNA and the heritage of the House since its creation by Rose Adelaide Jouët and Nicolas Perrier in 1811.
In 1902, Perrier-Jouët started its first notable artistic collaboration, with the Master of Art Nouveau, Emile Galle. He designed for the House the iconic Japanese anemone flower, which can be found still today on every bottle of Belle Epoque cuvee.
Since then, the Art Nouveau is the key of all the artistic collaborations, by the way it is being expressed (lines, curves and inspired by nature), and by the philosophy of the artistic move that puts beauty at the center of daily life.
As a prominent patron of the arts our relationship with the world of creativity centers on three areas:
– Design Miami, which Perrier-Jouët has been working with as exclusive partner since 2012. The House provides young studios with a global platform to support their creative work and give a new vision of the art nouveau philosophy.
– There are special collaborations with artists for limited editions. Perrier-Jouët works with many artists to showcase our limited editions such as Mischer’Traxler. We also worked with Daniel Arsham for the Bicentennial champagne box set or with Tord Boontje for service rituals such as the Enchanting Tree. Lastly the House has been working with Ritsue Mishima, a Japanese artist, to offer a limited edition of Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs.
Is Perrier-Jouët opening its door to visitors ? What can be visited ?
Perrier-Jouët is not opened to the public. However it offers a virtual tour of its cellars by using the most advanced virtual tour technologies. This allows a glimpse of a history of loyalty to Champagne tradition and strong relationships with the world of art.
How unique is the Cellar or “Cave” at Perrier-Jouët ? We have been told the visit is a fantastic experience.
Perrier-Jouët cellars are very unique. Thanks to the virtual tour, you will enter the secret cellars of Perrier-Jouët in Epernay, and follows the main stages of how champagne is made, from tending the vines to maturing in the cellars, not withstanding the art of blending. This interactive tour will also take the visitor to the “Eden”, the cellar reserved for the oldest vintages, the area dedicated to the By & For Cuvée, the vault dedicated to the bicentenary of the House since 2011, as well as “Lost Time”, an installation as poetic as it is dramatic by studio Glithero.
Perrier-Jouët and the Asian consumers, a fast growing love story ?
Perrier-Jouët has a very strong link with Asia and in particular Japan for a very long time. The obvious representation of this link is the emblem of the House : the floral arabesque made of white anemones from Japan.
This flower was chosen by Emile Galle in 1902, one of the pioneers of the Art Nouveau move, to design several magnums. Emile Galle, who was a botanist and passionate about nature, chose from among the 3000 species of plants and flowers of the world the white anemone of Japan. This design created more than 100 years ago by Emile Galle still appears on all the Belle Epoque cuvees today. Asia , today, represents a key market to leverage the growth of the brand.
Your best memory of your years at Perrier-Jouët ?”
My best memory is the celebrations of the bicentenary of Perrier-Jouët and the tasting I had the pleasure to share with a few champagne expert journalists. The vertical tasting took us back in time with some exceptional cuvees. We tasted the 1825 vintage, the oldest vintage we have in our cellars.