The Perrier-Jouët Bi-Centenaire Celebrates the Maison's 200th Birthday
In 1811, just a year after they were married, Pierre Nicolas Perrier and Rose Adélaїde Jouët released the first bottling of Perrier-Jouët champagne. Even at 200 it is among the youngest of the champagne brands that make Americans giddy: Moët-Chandon (makers of Dom Perignon), Veuve Clicquot and Roederer (makers of Cristal) are 18th century institutions.
When it comes to taste and quality, though, Perrier-Jouët can easily go bubble-for-bubble with its older compatriots. And when it came to celebrating its two-hundredth year, if you ask the house itself, it might have outdone them. Luxist attended the event in Paris, where we're told, "To celebrate its Bicentennary, Perrier-Jouët is initiating a conversation with time."
It is a conversation that begins with the Perrier-Jouët Bi-Centenaire sculpture and that will last nearly 100 years. And it involves lots and lots of champagne...
Gallery: Images from the Galerie Perrotin
It took three days to contain the events marking Perrier-Jouët's bicentennial, the theme of which was called "Living Legacy." Yet even that wasn't enough, for the French are akin to Imperial Rome in their belief that the magnitude of an occasion is only partly revealed by its celebrations. The other, and perhaps most important, part is how it is remembered. We are talking about monuments – the arches, towers, columns and cathedrals, for instance, that will seize and describe a moment and then carry it through time.
In this case the monument is a sculpture called the Perrier-Jouët Bi-Centenaire, and with it the house says it has created "the first champagne designed to be passed on to one's heirs."
To view it we were taken to Galerie Perrotin, the repository of modern art in Paris' third arrondissement. It was founded by Emmanuel Perrotin, called by the International Herald Tribune "the Paris contemporary art scene's undisputed arbiter of modern art." Ahem.
In addition to being the first to display the works of Takashi Murakami in America, Perrotin was also the first to display those of Daniel Arsham. An American artist based in Miami, Arsham has created works for Dior Homme, Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art and the city's Four Seasons, in addition to displaying internationally.
His latest trick: being the creator of the Perrier-Jouët Bi-Centenaire coffer.
The marble dust and resin sculpture is decorated with anemones – the flower that adorns Perrier-Jouet's Belle Epoque (Fleur de Champagne in the U.S.) bottles – and pulls apart into two sides, like a diptych. Revealed are positive and negative impressions of more anemones, and through several sculpted openings you can view the contents: two magnums of 1998 Belle Époque Cuvée.
In which case, it is perhaps the two anemone-shaped depressions atop the twin chests that are most important: they allow access to the magnums within, one for the buyer, one for the buyer's appointed heir in numerous decades' time.
How it works: one hundred sculptures will be created (collectively holding 200 bottles), each one bearing its details on a green plaque. The buyer pledges something along the lines of €10,000 (pricing hasn't been finalized) and arranges a trip to Maison Belle Époque, Perrier-Jouët's estate where guests are received on the rue de Champagne in Épernay.
Once there, he gets a date with Hervé Deschamps, the house's Chef de Cave, for a tour of the cellars and a tasting of the 1998 Belle Époque Cuvée. That tasting takes place in a locked, purpose-built vault, within which is another vault built to house the 100 bottles meant for descendants. That interior vault also contains a further 100 bottles of 1998 Belle Époque that can be tasted through the years to see how it develops.
After the tasting and – we assume, acceptance – of the champagne, the buyer is given his magnum and his fragment of the sculpture, while the other bottle and fragment are retired to their respective homes for storage.
A final accessory is a Life Journal, given to the buyer to "describe the moment" and "reveal to future readers the creative expression of who we are today." Just in case purchasing a €10,000 champagne-filled work of art wasn't enough...
Should you decide to be among those who bequeath – and we hear a few bottles remain – Perrier-Jouët's tasting notes for the Belle Epoque 1998 Cuvee declare a "complex and elusive" bouquet while, on the palate, "the attack is fresh and lively" with "buttery, roasted notes" balancing the floral intensity of the nose.
Given a chance to try it inside the vault (and regrettably, not being experts on the matter), what we can say is that it is delicious, lightly fruity and with an excellent balance of sweetness and tang. The finest compliment we could give it, however, would be that we see it serving well the purpose for which it has been chosen: "to convey something of the passion of those rare moments," in the words of Hervé Deschamps.
Now, and for generations to come.