Interview with Perrier-Jouët’s Cellar Master – Severine Frerson
8th March 2023
When Severine Frerson succeeded Hervé Deschamps in October 2020, she became only the eighth Cellar Master of Perrier-Jouët and the first woman to hold the role in their 200-year history. Severine has been charged with ushering in a new era for the Champagne House, in regards, especially in regenerative viticulture and sustainability.
We ask Severine Frerson some questions:
Tell Us About Yourself and How You Became Involved In The Wine Industry?
I was born in Sillery, near Reims and raised in Champagne, but I do not come from a family of winemakers or winegrowers. I remember visiting my parents’ friends who owned a vineyard. I used to spend days playing outside in the vineyard, and I have strong sensorial memories: the touch of the leaves, the touch of the soil, the taste of the freshly pressed grapes, the smell of the must during the alcoholic fermentations, the smell in the cellars, etc.
So when I graduated high school and had to choose a career path, I naturally decided to study oenology. I graduated with a National Diploma in Oenology from the University of Reims in 2001. I then had different experiences in various Houses, before joining the Perrier-Jouët Champagne House in October 2020. Today, I am very proud to be the only eighth Cellar Master at Perrier-Jouët since 1811. Being able to be part of this legacy of extraordinary winemakers is a great pride.
As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Champagne?
When you work in a House that is so founding and historic in the wine world, it is a real challenge to succeed in transmitting the values of this House while bringing my personal touch, my expertise, my own history. Managing to remain creative while respecting the brand’s very strong and deep-rooted values is daily gymnastics that makes my job even more exciting.
How Do You Determine When Your Champagne Is Ready To Drink?
A Champagne is ready when we are in symbiosis with the effervescence, the olfactory and gustatory aromas and the texture in the mouth. Perrier-Jouët wines are described with florality, finesse, elegance and complexity. If all these words are aligned then the wine is ready to be consumed.
What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?
It is hard to choose a specific part, I love everything about my job. But making the blends gives me the most satisfaction. How it involves all my senses, tasting the different wines, and then relying on my memory and intuition to create a synthesis of all the work that has preceded. I find intuition is essential here to choose the wines: to feel which one will contribute a certain character or originality. It transcends technical tasting.
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
The memorable place where I prefer to taste is in the vineyards, to get back to the essence of the grape, the terroir, the vine. To enter in symbiosis with nature. For Perrier-Jouët, I would mention the historical vineyards of Cramant Bouron Leroi.
Séverine feels a special affinity with the spirited young woman whose name is one half of Maison Perrier-Jouët:
“Quite apart from the romance of her relationship with Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, I see Rose-Adélaïde Jouët as a woman of character and independence. She took an active role in receiving visitors and presenting the House and its cuvées. She placed great importance on exchange and conviviality, which is exactly what I do myself. I would never, for example, taste wines on my own – it’s an experience I always want to share with others.”
Glass of Bubbly
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