They key I am holding in my hand, down here in our beau- tiful, historic cellars, was given to me by my father when he retired. I was just 33. He opened the doors to our wine cellars in the heart of Chalons-en-Champagne. We are the only big brand in this town. My great-great-grandfather, winemaker Paul Pithois, passed it on to his son, and on down it went. The key is a symbol of family tradition and timeless continuity. Paul Pithois was able to acquire Jo- seph Per-rier from its founding family in 1888. He was the first generation of Pithois-Fourmons to run Joseph Perrier, and I represent the fifth generation.
The Perrier family comes from Côte des Blancs. François-Alexandre Perrier founded Perrier fils & Com- pagnie in 1800. His son Joseph gave the brand its current name in 1825. Joseph Per-rier has remained on the same premises throughout. We are virtually part of the furniture. Jo-seph Perrier was the mayor of Chalons, and if you ask any of the locals today about features of the town, then Joseph Perrier’s historic cellars will come up almost au- tomatically. There are no other examples of Gallo-Roman
tunnels with a ground-level entrance. Our three kilometres of cellars, where we still work today (and which are only occasionally open to visitors), are unique, beautiful and historic. They sit beneath a chalk hill towering behind the buildings, and were extended from 1800 onwards. Light wells run up to the surface of a 2.5-hectare park that we tend with great care. The ancient trees, or rather their roots, are what keep the moisture per-fectly regulated. We have 22 hectares of our own vines and produce less than a million bottles, making us one of the region’s smaller pro- ducers. This is not going to change. ‘Small but per-fectly formed’ is my motto. Joseph Perrier may not be the most famous champagne house, but it can complete with the best in terms of quality. This is something I intend to make more widely known. Producing a top champagne first and foremost requires top-quality grapes. We have contracts with winegrowers in the best locations, some of which go back generations. Then, it takes an experienced cellar master and lots and lots of time to mature. Our ideal cel- lars are a clear advantage.