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The success of champagne at the beginning of the twentieth century contrasted sharply with the problems of the region that assailed its production and those who worked there . The Belle Epoque was its golden age. It was a period of unbridled pleasure for the wealthy classes and a phenomenon occurred whereby champagne became synonymous with the celebrations that always involved flutes and coupes and which were what Comtesse de Pange called the last balls before the storm.
Champagne had managed to make itself indispensable. Youth rejoiced in it: it was perfect for enlivening spirits that had become dulled by an over abundance of pleasures; in his foreword to Emile Richardin's L'Art du bien manger (The Art of Eating Well) Lucien Tendret gives his advice to hosts, for those who sparkle with youth and gaiety, pour some good quality champagne, some iced Piper-Heidsieck or Roederer Cristal. It was the confidant of the ladies and the appointed companion of those men for whom opening a bottle of champagne was a virtue, provided that it was accomplished with grace (243). Turkish baths and hammam were fashionable and champagne was regularly served to men as part of the post bath relaxation ritual. Armand Lanoux specifies that certain foods and wines are rich and we praise them for their aphrodisiac properties. A scarlet woman, he continues, puts her glove in her flute of champagne. She laughs, "I feel a bit tipsy!" .
Grand society evenings multiplied and bottles of champagne were poured by their hundreds, or even by their thousands at, to list just a few of these Parisian events, Boni de Castellane's parties, who was the cousin of the founder of the champagne house of the same name, Princess Jacques de Broglie's Gem Ball, the Duchess of Gramont's Second Empire Ball, and the Comtesse de Chabrillan and the Comtesse de Clermont-Tonnerre's remarkable Persian parties. The couturier Paul Poiret recounts that one evening he found himself alone at a table with Isadora Duncan, the famous dancer, who would often perform without her flowing robes, and this worshipper of Bacchus had drawn him to her demanding champagne and kisses. The festivities were equally numerous in Dinard, La Baule, Biarritz, and above all on the Côte d'Azur where as an example amongst hundreds, Elisseïef, a joyous boyard (former member of the Russian aristocracy), a son and grandson of the kings of the food trade during the rule of the tsars, and an ogre when it came to festivities, had set up, in the centre of the table, a swan carved out of ice, heaped with a mountain of caviar, and swimming on a lake of champagne.
High society was even more cosmopolitan than in the previous century and for them champagne flowed in the spa towns of Germany, in the hunting lodges of Scotland and Slovakia, in Budapest and in Venice where Gabriel-Louis Pringué, at a dinner at which were present, amongst others Paul Bourget and Henri de Régnier, sat next to the pretty blonde Princess Ruspoli who, he wrote, loved champagne, adding that when she drank it , her witty eloquence became stunning . The tango appeared in France in around 1910 and, despite its South-American origins, was often accompanied by champagne; in a picture advertising Tea-Tangos at the Volney Restaurant, which appeared in the Vie Parisienne of the 20 December 1913, the only glasses visible on the tables are champagne coupes.
Champagne was still very popular at the races, but was also linked with the beginnings of the automobile. Michelin's famous slogan that its tyres drink up obstacles, was given a humorous twist in a drawing in the Assiette au Beurre that appeared on the 9 December 1904, in which the Michelin man arrives at the finish of a race and knocks over the judge's table in a flood of champagne; the caption reads, drinking up champagne.
The Belle Epoque was the kingdom of demi-monde celebrities such as Emilienne d'Alençon, Cléo de Mérode, and Caroline Otéro. They were feted by the grandest aristocracy, by Dukes and by Kings; the twenty-five year old Prince Ghyka, nephew of Queen Nathalie of Serbia, married Liane de Pougy who was forty-one. The life of these doe-eyed belles was inconceivable without champagne! It was now acceptable for ladies of good society to rub elbows with them in fashionable places where good taste and the finest luxuries were to be found. Everyone could thus dine out together and drink champagne in the restaurants that were à la mode.
Hervé Deschamps became the 7th Perrier-Jouët Cellar Master in 1993. The ten previous years he spent at his predecessor's side helped him master the subtleties of the House style and its unique floral tonality. As a guardian of this knowledge, he has since perpetuated and cultivated this precious heritage, fashioning, sculpting and pruning each of the vines that comprise his creations during their composition, with craftsmanlike skill.
Working at the vat, plot by plot, the Cellar Master tastes and tests time and again, finally isolating the wines, turning each cuvée into a unique wine that expresses all the characteristic elegance and finesse of the House of Perrier-Jouët. "I throw myself into each composition with one combined effort, like the creative flow of an artist, at that moment when intuition, sensitivity and skill somehow inexplicably come together." Hervé Deschamps.
In 1902, Emile Gallé designed a delicate spray of anemones to be engraved on the prestigious cuvées of Perrier-Jouët Champagnes. The House has remained loyal to this artistic heritage ever since.
The same tradition gave rise to Beauting: a vision of gastronomy which embraces Beauty and Good Food, turning each dish into a work of art, in perfect harmony with each cuvée. A unique sensory experience and a feast for the eye and the palate alike.
When served between 10°C and 12°C, cuvée Belle Epoque 2006 is the perfect aperitif.
During a meal, its freshness and floral scents blend beautifully with the salty flavours of shellfish and fish or light white meat dishes.
Cuvée Belle Epoque 2006 is the result of a year of contrasts. It started with a cold and dry winter, followed by a mild spring with some late frosts in April, that luckily did not affect the Perrier-Jouët vineyards.
High temperatures were accompanied by erratic rainfall in June, before the heatwave took hold in July. August was fresher with a little light rain, followed by a warm and sunny September allowing the grape clusters to achieve optimal ripeness for harvest. The Chardonnays were particularly generous, giving a silky texture to the vintage.
Hervé Deschamps has blended this wine to achieve the ideal balance between the uniqueness of the 2006 harvest and the consistency of the House style. Its assemblage celebrates the freshness, minerality and floral notes of Chardonnay (50%) from the famous vineyards of Cramant, Avize and Chouilly; and the generosity, structure and fresh fruit aromas of the Pinot Noir terroirs of Mailly, Verzy and Aÿ (45%). Finally 5% Pinot Meunier from Dizy brings notes of ripe fruits and a roundness that brings the perfect balance to the wine.
Dosage : 9g/l – Matured for at least 6 years in the cellars of the house.
A BEAUTIFUL BALANCE BETWEEN OPULANCE AND ELEGANCE Aromas of white fruits - lemon, white peach, pear and grapefruit - give way to hints of pineapple and fresh spring flowers.
APPEARANCE : A beautiful pale yellow, clear with hints of green and a lively mousse.
NOSE : Aromas of white fruits - lemon, white peach, pear and grapefruit - give way to hints of pineapple and fresh spring flowers. This is followed by richer aromas of nuts, marzipan and sweet spice. Delicate, yet generous.
PALATE : The attack is lively, with a marked minerality that feels both elegant yet rounded. Sensual and silky, harmonious and beautifully balanced, the flavours mingle to leave a long, fine finish.