The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 63 of 124

{ }  63 art "Six in the morning, at a Tokyo fish market," Deschamps quickly proclaims through a broad grin. "A glass of Belle Époque, paired with cuttlefish sashimi. It was fantastic." His smile slightly nar- rows. "More people need to try and pair Champagne with Asian cuisine. They'd be surprised by how well they work together." Normally, this sentiment may sound a bit quirky. Yet it resonates with substantial gravitas coming from Deschamps, as does pretty much everything else he mentions about Champagne during the afternoon I spend with him. Prior to our chat, Deschamps affably holds court at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire hotel's flagship eatery The BLVD, extolling the merits of Perrier-Jouët's limited-edition vintage 2007 Belle Époque Brut in English and French between the courses of a Champagne- and seafood-centric prix-fixe luncheon. A few hours later, he's at the West Hollywood libation and food shop Mel & Rose, signing bottles of the special prestige cuvée and telling tales stemming from his 22 years as the legendary French Champagne house's Chef de Cave. He peppers his dialogue at both venues with talk about the winery's envy-inducing terroir on the 48th parallel and their historic innovations, like the cre - ation of the first brut in 1846. The palpable passion he infuses into this information makes it nigh impossible for the factoids to be construed as rote data. Deschamps's ardor for Perrier-Jouët's exquisite juice is grounded by his desire to uphold the quality and innovation that has been at the Champagne's center since 1811, when the marriage of Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Adele Jouët formed the venerable maison. "The brand name is very strong, and it is that way because there has never been any compromise with its quality," he explains. "It's why we take an 'all or nothing' approach. We would rather skip a vintage where the yield does not match our standards than release Champagne just for the sake of releasing Champagne." Deschamps's dedication to the craft is evident in the brilliant select-release vintage, Belle Époque. The cuvée is luscious, as aromatics of honeysuckle and pear prepare the palate for a gently tart expression of summer stone fruits and an assured finish. The bottle housing the brut is festooned with Perrier- Jouët's timeless Art Nouveau packaging of anemones sensually caressing green glass. This October the bottle's signature look was enhanced by the whimsical addition of butterflies and dragonflies, the limited-edition bottle, of which only 300 are available in CA, was created by the acclaimed Viennese design studio mischer'traxler. The fluttering insects create a different opportunity to express Perrier-Jouët's classic aesthetic—an element Deschamps says is still strong even as the younger generation of imbibers brings their own artistic subjectivity into the mix. "Some people just getting into Champagne may feel the bottle's design is a bit old-fashioned," he states, raising the Belle Époque–filled flute in his hand to eye level. "But you'll notice that there is no design on the glass. The moment some - one enjoys the Champagne, any concerns they may have about the bottle's design being old-fashioned is quickly set aside." Ensuring that this level of out-of-the-bottle enjoyment regularly happens is in part fueled by Perrier-Jouët's prominent when I ask Perrier-Jouët's Chief Winemaker Hervé Deschamps about his most memorable Champagne experience, I admittedly expect to receive a near-stock answer like a pairing with caviar or overlooking a bustling arrondisse- ment from a Parisian loft. My expectations, it turns out, are naive. Perrier-Jouët's Belle Époque takes center stage at The BLVD, the flag- ship restaurant at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.

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