Perrier is an illustrious name in Champagne; Laurent Perrier, Perrier-Jouët and Joseph Perrier are all heavyweights and it’s clear that this moniker carries with it an expectation of quality and heritage.
Joseph Perrier is possibly the least eminent of the three, but it’s as important a Champagne house as any in the history of the region and in the glass itself.
Founder Joseph Perrier was the son of wine merchant François-Alexandre Perrier and the nephew of Pierre Nicolas-Marie Perrier (who founded Perrier-Jouët in 1811).
He established the house in 1825 in a large residence in the town of Châlons-en-Champagne where he had several galleries dug in the chalk of Champagne to connect the Gallo-Roman cellars, constituting a magnificent network of cellars extending for three kilometres, dug horizontally in contrast to Charles Heidsieck, Taittinger or Ruinart cellars, which are vertical.
Perrier was an important figure in Châlons-en-Champagne, eventually becoming the mayor of the city, which was named Châlons-sur-Marne at the time. After his death the business was sold to his friend Paul Pithois, who continued to develop the Champagne house and Joseph Perrier name. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it became an appointed supplier to the royal households of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.
After several years of quietly living on its achievements, Perrier was acquired by the Alain Thiénot Group in 1988. Today, Jean-Claude Fourmon – the great-grandson of Paul Pithois – and his son Benjamin Fourmon manage Joseph Perrier. While several houses keep cellars in the city, Joseph Perrier is the only Champagne house to be headquartered there.
The vineyards of Joseph Perrier are situated in the Vallée de la Marne where it owns 21 hectares of vines, mainly planted with Pinot Noir. Twelve hectares are located in Verneuil with the remaining nine hectares divided between the villages of Cumières, Hautvillers, and Damery.
The vineyards provide about 25% of the house’s needs; the rest is purchased from vignerons from different villages or regions such as Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs and Vallée de la Marne. Pinot Noir is in the ascendancy at Joseph Perrier offering a tense and lively tone to the range. The Chardonnay grapes offer a contrasting minerality and power.
Cuvée Joséphine, which is Joseph Perrier’s prestige cuvée, was created in the 1982 vintage and named in honour of the founder’s daughter. It is made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes solely from Grands Crus sites.