This week saw the launch of one of the great Champagnes from the house of Perrier Jouet – their top end Champagne Belle Epoque 2006. Exclusive distributors Pernod Ricard in Hong Kong threw a lavish launch party that was made up to look like an indoor garden complete with tastings of the newly launched Belle Epoque 2006 alongside Belle Epoque 2004 and Belle Epoque Rosé 2004.
Chef de Caves Hervé Deschamps was in attendance to talk to Champagne lovers, media and members of the local Hong Kong wine trade about the recently launched vintage and why the Champagne itself is so special.
Maison Perrier Jouet was actually founded in 1811 by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier-Jouet and these days the house produces in the region of 3 million bottles although the number of bottles of Belle Epoque is limited according to vintage. There is not a Belle Epoque made every vintage and so keen Champagne enthusiasts are always on the lookout for it when it is made.
“Belle Epoque is always a vintage but not every year in Champagne is a vintage”, M. Deschamps explained to the crowd of oenophiles. “For Belle Epoque we want 50 per cent Chardonnay from the best Chardonnay vines we have along with 45 per cent Pinot Noir – not so much that it covers the elegance of the Chardonnay. We also have 5 per cent Pinot Meunier, but as it ages more quickly than Pinot Noir we want to keep the levels of Pinot Meunier in the blend quite low. But the Pinot Meunier is important as it makes a bridge between the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay”.
“At Perrier Jouet we like to have a very good balance between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as much as we like to have a very good balance between sugar and acidity”, M. Deschamps went on to say.
“For Belle Epoque we want to age the wine for 6 years to leave a long contact time with the yeast in order to develop more complexity, elegance and richness. You will always see fresh fruit aromas on the nose like white peach and pear”.
“The 2006 has very good freshness with good acidity but no aggressive, strong bubbles. The bubbles are very fine and give a very creamy feeling in the mouth”.
And this is very true. The Belle Epoque is a soothing Champagne that does leave a nice creamy texture on the palate and the bubbles are sublimely smooth and delicate. It is certainly connoisseurs Champagne and is worth buying and cellaring for a few years to let some oxidation take place and to let the Champagne mature a little. Although, having said that, I thought it was drinking pretty well and I for one would find it hard not to drink it – were there any in my cellar!
The full range of Perrier Jouet Champagnes, including Belle Epoque vintage Champagne is available in Hong Kong from Pernod Ricard. For more information please contact Steven Lee at Pernod Ricard Hong Kong by email on firstname.lastname@example.org