When I met up with chef de cave Hervé Deschamps last month, I asked him for a brief summary of what Perrier-Jouët is all about. The thoughts he proffered were: “White flower, stylish and sea-salt.” I’d just been tasting the newly launched Belle Époque Brut Vintage 2008 with him and, while that wasn’t exactly my tasting note, all those things are evident in the fine, dazzling, fresh 2008 release. It’s perfumed, with a noticeable grip and mid-palate chalky intensity. And no one would say it lacked style. It plays between the elegance and freshness of Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize, Chouilly, Mesnil and Vertus, set against the power and structure of Mailly, Verzy and Verzenay Pinot Noir. “But don’t forget the 5% Dizy Pinot Meunier,” says Deschamps. “It acts as a link between the two, like the hyphen between Perrier and Jouët.”
It’s the fifth release of white Belle Époque in a seven-year period. Since the beautifully balanced 2002, only 2003 and 2005 are missing. If you had to pick out a pair of them it would be ’02 and ’08, attractive and enjoyable though the ’04 and ’06 vintages were, even on the basis of this brief look at 2008.
If they had still been making a straight vintage Perrier-Jouët, both 2008 and 2009 versions of that would have been made, says Deschamps, and an interesting comparison possible, just as it was between the austere 1988 and the voluptuous 1989. But 2009 was too ripe to make Belle Époque, it lacked elegance, he says and it will be 2010 that follows instead.