Perrier-Jouët’s history is steeped in nature – so it made sense that the prestigious champagne house’s innovative new dining experience should be inspired by the rhythms of the natural world. This season, the house has thrown open the doors to its home, the Maison Belle Epoque, to launch ‘The Banquet of Nature’, an intimate dining experience and sensory journey through its prestigious Belle Epoque vintage cuvées.

The tasting experience is the result of a creative collaboration between three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire, the house’s Executive Chef Sébastien Morellon and Cellar Master Séverine Frerson. Each aspect is centred on using nature and gastronomy as mediums through which to explore the wines and the house’s signature Chardonnay grape.

The Perrier-Jouët Banquet of Nature

The banquet is structured into four phases inspired by the cycle of the seasons, with the first, ‘Le Terroir’, focusing on the soil. This phase also nods to the experimental regenerative viticulture programme that Perrier-Jouët launched in 2020, which aims to revitalise the soil across its vineyards in the Champagne region of France, increasing resilience against the impact of climate change.

In this introductory stage of the meal, guests are presented with chunks of chalk from the vineyards, to be dotted with water infused with cornflower, jasmine and violet. The aromatic experiment explores the minerality, florality and elegance of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 2006, which is served alongside scallop pascaline, followed by cream of osciètre caviar.

The Perrier-Jouët Banquet of Nature

The second phase, ‘Awakening’, references the winter months in which flora and fauna prepare for spring. During this stage, diners are presented with a trio of flowers that differ wildly in texture, from a dense, velvety angel’s wing to a silky orchid. The champagne served is the still-youthful Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2013, which is paired with two dishes, including a sea bass escalope poached in clarified butter and wild seaweed from the coast of Brittany.

The Perrier-Jouët Banquet of Nature

The third stage, ‘Flowering’, involves tasting edible petals that highlight the floral notes of the wine, the Belle Epoque 1999, served alongside dishes including a veal blanquette with Alba white truffle. The experience ends on a rich, sweet note, with a Belle Epoque Rosé 2010 and a sumptuous  vanilla Tahaa ice cream dessert representing the ‘maturity’ phase of the cycle.

“This is a very new experience,” says Freson of the banquet’s innovative approach. “It offers a different method for understanding the wine; it demystifies the tasting process.”

The Perrier-Jouët Banquet of Nature

Frerson and Chef Morellon worked closely on every aspect of the experience, denoting the best possible combination of complementary textures and flavours. Dishes are even served at the precise temperature necessary to accentuate the attributes of the wines. “It was an excellent collaboration,” says Frerson. “It was very exciting to work on food pairings for such special wines, and to develop the menu for such a spectacular dining experience.”

The banquet offers members of the public the opportunity to experience the historic and fabled Maison Belle Epoque, an architectural homage to the Art Nouveau movement. Original Art Nouveau pieces from the house’s own personal collection are featured in the tableware and glassware used throughout, leaning heavily on the themes of botany and the natural world.

The Banquet of Nature will run until 29 January, and the house plans to roll it out in Munich, Tokyo and Shanghai in 2022, adapting the menu to reflect the seasons.

Images: Sebastien Tabarin