Champagne Bertrand Senecourt is an Epernay Champagne house that sometimes makes special cuvees, such as Beau Joie Special Cuvee Brut. The Champagne is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay and it is bottled in a distinctive 100% copper wrapper that Bertrand Senecourt says is inspired by the suits of armor worn by medieval knights. The copper “suit of armor” keeps the Champagne colder for longer periods, according to Bertrand Senecourt, and the copper wrapper is made from recycled copper. In 2012 Beau Joie Special Cuvee Brut was the official Champagne for the party held after the Grammys at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. Other Beau Joie cuvees have earned compliments in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Bertrand Senecourt is also the maker of the prestigious Charles Ellner Champagnes.
Champagne is a small, beautiful wine growing region northeast of Paris whose famous name is misused a million times a day. As wine enthusiasts and all French people are well aware, only sparkling wines produced in Champagne from grapes grown in Champagne can be called Champagne. Sparkling wines produced anywhere else, including in other parts of France, must be called something besides Champagne. Champagne producers are justifiably protective of their wines and the prestige associated with true Champagne. Though the region was growing grapes and making wines in ancient times, it began specializing in sparkling wine in the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon formulated a set guidelines to improve the quality of the local sparkling wines. Despite legends to the contrary, Dom Pérignon did not “invent” sparkling wine, but his rules about aggressive pruning, small yields and multiple pressings of the grapes were widely adopted, and by the 18th and 19th centuries Champagne had become the wine of choice in fashionable courts and palaces throughout Europe. Today there are 75,000 acres of vineyards in Champagne growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne’s official appellation system classifies villages as Grand Cru or Premier Cru, though there are also many excellent Champagnes that simply carry the regional appellation. Along with well-known international Champagne houses there are numerous so-called “producer Champagnes,” meaning wines made by families who, usually for several or more generations, have worked their own vineyards and produced Champagne only from their own grapes.