Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 1996
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
The 1996 vintage was superb for the Champagne region, yielding ripe, balanced, clean fruit with excellent flavors. A blend of approximately half Chardonnay and half Pinot Noir this crystal bright, light-bodied Champagne is elegant and distinctive. Opening with aromas of fresh pineapple, lemon and white florals, warming into complex scents of pear. A rich bouquet of white fruits end in subtle notes of honey and vanilla. The bead is intense with brisk effervescence, swirling up into a generous and persistent mousse. It is a balanced, extremely refined wine that, if properly stored, should keep for years, especially if bottled in magnums or jeroboams.
Beyond the toasts and ship launchings, Champagne has a place at every dinner table. The 1996 Fleur de Champagne pairs is the perfect wine to serve with smoked oysters, game hens, delicate Japanese fish dishes, Fettuccini Alfredo or risotto.
After a patient search for a master glassmaker capable of reproducing a bottle with the 1902 Gallé design, Perrier Jouët launched in 1969, its famous "flower bottle" with an arabesque design of anemones. The first bottles of Fleur de Champagne revealed a Champagne of vivacious delicacy, the epitome of the refined and engaging style of the Art Nouveau movement. Since then, it has been the signature Champagne of Perrier Jouët and is considered one of the world's most celebrated Champagnes.
Wine Enthusiast - "The famous Belle Epoque bottle design is based on a 1902 bottle of Emile Gallé. Today's blend of this prestige cuvée is a fine balance between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, crisp and fresh in a ripe, mature aperitif style. It is lively but complex, showing some toasty flavors to complement the rich, ripe green fruit tastes. Great balance and elegace."
International Wine Cellar - "Very subtle, floral nose combines minerals, nuts and butter. Bright, concentrated and seamless, with lovely harmonious acidity; very smooth for the vintage. At once rich and racy; has weight without being heavy. Finishes long and fine."
Perrier-Jouët was founded in 1811 in Epernay by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier and his wife, Adele Jouët. One of the most prestigious houses in Champagne, the firm was shipping wine to Great Britain by 1813 and to the United States by 1837. Perrier-Jouët owns 266 acres of vineyards in Champagne, with an average rating of 95%, and is known worldwide for its consistency of style.
By the end of the 19th Century, its Brut cuvées earned the reputation of nobility and prestige that continues today. Perrier Jouët's glamorous "Cuvée Belle Epoque", known in the United States as Fleur de Champagne, was launched in 1969 and has become the most important cuvée de prestige to appear after World War II. The bottle is adorned with enamel-painted anenomes originally created by Emile Gallé in 1900, but the wine is as famous for its taste as it is for its beautiful packaging. View all Perrier-Jouët Wines
About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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