Perrier-Jouet, based in Epernay, the heart of Champagne, was founded in 1811 by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier-Jouet. The estate owns 150 acres of vineyards planted to 56% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier, and 29% Pinot Noir. In addition some 65% of the grapes used by the estate are bought from local growers. Perrier-Jouet is today owned by Pernod Ricard, a global spirits and wine company. Belle Epoque is Perrier-Jouet’s premier Champagne. One of Perrier-Jouet’s distinctive features is its Art Nouveau influenced label. In 1902 the noted French artist Emile Calle designed a bottle and an unapologetically beautiful label for Perrier-Jouet. The label was decorated with swirling, stylized flowers based on the Japanese anemone. The Art Nouveau label is still used today for the house's prestige cuvees.
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.