Swine flu keeps chef de cave Deschamps from Belle Epoque launch

03 December, 2009

Quarantined at home in France with swine flu, Champagne Perrier-Jouët chef de cave Hervé Deschamps was unable to attend the London launch of the latest vintage of deluxe cuvée Belle Epoque this Tuesday (Dec 1).

On show for the first time in the UK at the French Ambassador’s residence in Kensington Park, Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2002 was introduced by Perrier-Jouët brand devlopment manager Agnès Laplante-Jones as: “The first vintage of the 21st century – and it was a great vintage.”

To taste, the 2002 Belle Epoque was surprisingly open and luscious in style, with refreshing but restrained acidity balancing its smooth, creamy texture. Classically buttery and light vegetal Chardonnay aromas were complemented by light notes of peach and a leafy freshness, with a bright, lively lemon palate developing elegant touches of brioche and praline through the finish.

The Deschamps verdict: “The 2002 vintage is intense yet delicate with a fine balance between structure and acidity. It is truly the epitome of charm and elegance, reflecting the Chardonnays of Cramant and Pinot Noirs of Mailly that have progressively become the markers of the House style.”

Despite suffering in the US market since the economic crisis hit, Pernod Ricard has bucked the trend to have a good year in the UK in 2009. “We have had great results in the UK, winning some key new business in the on-trade,” said Laplante-Jones, citing the new Perrier-Jouët bar in department store Harvey Nichols.

The US, by contrast, is still in a slump. “I visited recently and the signs were that the market is still depressed,” she said. “There is still a lot of trading down. I feel it will probably take two years to get back to where we were.”

On the plus side however, one bright spot for Perrier-Jouët exports has been Brazil, and the champagne house has this year signed new contracts with growers to secure increases in supply of up to 10%, said Laplante-Jones.