What is it about Champagne that causes so many Americans to relegate it to celebrations? Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a perfectly fine wine to toast with. That said I think so many people are missing tremendous experiences when they don’t reach for it more often. Champagne like many other kinds of wine is made in an array of styles. And depending on what you’re going to have for dinner, lunch or brunch it's a pretty solid bet that there’s a Champagne that will match your meal. Last week I had the opportunity to taste the wines of Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne alongside Hervé Deschamps, their Chef de Cave. In the history of Perrier-Jouët, which is closing in on 200 years, he is only the seventh Chef de Cave. In speaking with him about his tenure, which started in 1983, it was interesting to note what his goals are. For many Winemakers taking over where a long history exists they yearn to leave their stamp on the wines. This is a bit different in Champagne. The style and quality at Perrier-Jouët has been both high and consistent for almost 200 years. So Hervé’s goal was not to change it but rather to maintain the integrity of the house style and overall quality of the wine.
Tasting through the current Perrier-Jouët offerings it’s apparent that the goal has been met. The wines are of high quality, consistent in style, lovely, and also quite importantly, distinct from each other.
The current releases we sampled were as follows:
Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV – This wine which is composed of Pinot Noir (40%), Pinot Meunier (40%) and Chardonnay (20%). The non-vintage cuvee is the most widely produced and available of the Perrier-Jouët wines. For a suggested retail price of $45 it’s also their entry level offering. However the quality of this wine is anything but entry level. This is a serious Grand Brut with citrus aromas and flavors followed by flaky biscuit and brioche. It has an excellent finish and this wine is likely best suited for the widest array of cuisine in the portfolio.
Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé NV – This Rosé is made up of Pinot Noir (40%), Pinot Meunier (30%) and Chardonnay (30%). This selection has a suggested retail price of $75. The non-vintage Rosé was one of my favorite selections in the portfolio. I enjoyed the length of its finish as well as the firm structure it showed off. If I was going to drink one of these on its own, this would likely be my choice.
Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne Brut 2000 – 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier make up this vintage release. This offering has a suggested retail price of $139. I found this wine to be terrific now. Full, round mouth feel and hints of creaminess and toasted nuts on the finish are amongst the highlights. That said I expect this selection to evolve and improve for quite a few years. The best is yet to come for this wine. A solid bet to put away for a special occasion or holiday meal.
Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne Rosé 2002 - This selection is a blend of Pinot Noir (55%) and Chardonnay (45%). The suggested retail price for this vintage Rosé is $349. This wine starts impressively from its brilliant pink hue. Berry flavors intertwine throughout the palate and the finish which is impressively lengthy is soft, lush and delicate at the same time that it is layered and complex. This is an absolutely brilliant selection that deserves to be both enjoyed for its beauty and contemplated for its complexity.
Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 – This offering is a single vineyard selection composed exclusively of Chardonnay. The suggested retail price for this wine is $399. While I mentioned above that Hervé’s goal was to maintain the integrity and quality of the wines during his tenure, this offering is his singular mark on Perrier-Jouët. This is a selection that wasn’t produced previous to his tenure. It’s only made in exceptional vintages. I really enjoyed the nose of the offering. A hint of candied ginger and honey really come through. The palate of this wine is perhaps the gentlest and most alluring of these six wines. The finish lingers and echoes well after the last sip.
Tasting these wines side by side over several hours I went back to each of them more than once. As I mentioned I was struck not only by the quality but also by the distinction. Each of these wines stands on its own and provides a unique drinking experience. Whether you’re picking up the Non Vintage Grand Brut for everyday drinking or putting the Fleur de Champagne Rosé away for a special meal you really can’t go wrong with the wines of Perrier-Jouët. This is a classic Champagne House, 200 years into its history, that keeps on keeping on. In a world where change for the sake of change is often embraced, it’s good to see stability and consistency. Happily I can highly recommend these wines across the board.