Épernay is renowned as the center of the champagne-producing region of France. In this small commune, 93 miles from Paris, stand the headquarters of the world’s most famous champagne houses. After two years spent restoring the birthplace of its artistic and cultural heritage, the Maison Perrier-Jouët, located at number 26 Avenue de Champagne, reopened.
Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier and his wife, Rose-Adélaïde Jouët, founded the traditional French champagne house in 1811. Since then, its wines have graced many famous tables, including those of Queen Victoria and Napoleon III. In 1856, Perrier-Jouët created the world’s first brut champagne.
The rich history of the maison is still linked—years after its foundation—to the emergence of art nouveau during the French belle epoque. The maison’s halls were decorated with works by the most prestigious artists of the French turn of the century, such as Majorelle, Gallé, Daum, Guimard, Lalique, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rodin. Today, these pieces form the most important Art Nouveau collection in Europe.
An enameled vase with anemone arabesques, created for the maison by the master glassmaker Émile Gallé in 1902, is the Perrier-Jouët emblem. However, the maison’s most remarkable link to this period is, perhaps, its champagne brut Belle Époque, formerly known as the “Fleur de Champagne.” Today, one of its varieties, the Perrier-Joüet Grand Brut, is one of the ten best-selling champagnes in the world.
For the reopening, the rejuvenated halls and gardens hosted a select group of guests and international celebrities, including model Karolina Kurkova, the brand’s ambassador. During the reception, guests recalled the maison’s creation of the very first brut champagne. Perrier-Jouët’s cellar masters worked to reduce the sugar content and produce a drier champagne with a different composition and bouquet designed to seduce the royal palate. When the brut debuted in 1856, Perrier-Jouët quickly became a supplier for the British Royal House. Today, Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut is a direct evolution of this tradition, developed from an assemblage of three champagne varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, all from the maison’s own vineyards. ■