“Champagne - it’s for sharing!”
Pierre Hermé

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Interview with Pierre Hermé by Bulles & Millésimes

Pierre Hermé is world famous for his macaroons and pastry… and he has a passion for Champagne. He was awarded the title of World's Best Pastry Chef in 2016 by the World's 50 Best Restaurants and as the fourth most influential French person in the World by Vanity Fair in 2016.

Bulles & Millésimes: You are a Champagne lover, where does this passion come from?

Pierre Hermé - I owe it to my grandmother. Family history says that at the age of four, she gave me Champagne for the first time. My parents thought it was a bit early! We have always enjoyed wine in the family.

Personally, I really like Champagne. In recent years, I've become more interested in this as we've seen the emergence of "small" producers who do amazing things. It impresses me. For example, three years ago, Nicolas Stromboni, a wine merchant in Ajaccio, introduced me to the Guiborat house, which makes the Prisme cuvée, which is absolutely delicious and incredible value for money. This week I made another discovery the Rosé de Jeanne by Cédric Bouchard in Celles-sur-Ource. It is very good.

When it comes to inexpensive and delicious Champagnes, I can also recommend Gérard Pierrard. The first contact with him was fun as my team called him to ask for Champagne to put in cocktails. He replied that he was happy to sell them Champagne ... but not to put in cocktails. I really liked his reaction. Finally, my favourite Champagne from the producers is Selosse. I started to love Champagne when I discovered Selosse. I discovered these cuvées thanks to friends who are sommelier professionals. For the company we order Deutz, Duval-Leroy and rosé from Billecart-Salmon. Personally, I also order Champagne from these three houses to put in the cellar.

You must have a nice collection of Champagne in your cellar... I have about 2,000 bottles in total. I drink it mainly as an aperitif. However, I never drink it with dessert, but after dessert ... And for me, Champagne is everything festive. When I entertain, I always open a bottle of Champagne. It's my first instinct when I invite people. The wine that I buy, it's always to drink it with people I like. I never bought a bottle of wine to resell it. For me wine, and a fortiori Champagne, it is for sharing.

Bulles & Millésimes: What are your preferences?

Unusually, I prefer vinous Champagnes, like Selosse. I reserve these bottles for people who I know appreciate this type of wine.

Bulles & Millésimes: Have you any memories of great moments or tastings in Champagne?

I have! I have tasted very old vintages of Charles Heidsieck. I also had a great experience during the Bernard Loiseau festival in Mauritius. Maison Deutz is a partner of this annual event. The president, Fabrice Rosset organises an exceptional evening with magnificent Champagnes, some of which are not marketed. There is a Blanc de Blancs 1989 and a William Deutz 1982 which are truly exceptional.

Bulles & Millésimes: For dessert, is Champagne a heresy?

Yes. I can grant exceptions on citrus desserts, for example, or on red fruit desserts which have an acid note that can stand up to Champagne. But with chocolate, caramel or vanilla, it's very difficult. I don’t like to be peremptory because sometimes we have nice surprises but, really, Champagne and dessert, it is not easy.

Bulles & Millésimes: The most beautiful combination between pastries and Champagne?

I had the opportunity to taste an old vintage of Substance de Selosse with a pancake and it was delicious. This is one of the good surprises.

Bulles & Millésimes: Champagne and macaroons, do they work?

Again, I will go to very acidic things. We have a macaroon recipe that is wasabi-grapefruit. I think that Champagne would work well with it. We could also try with a grapefruit or lemon macaroon.

Bulles & Millésimes: And ice cubes in Champagne?

I don't like it. In fact, it makes my hair stand on end. If I know people want to do that, I pour them entry level Champagne. If they put ice cubes in a Dom Pérignon or a Deutz, I think I'm not going to  talk to them anymore... But the question I ask myself about this kind of practice is whether they do this for taste or for fashion.

Bulles & Millésimes: What is your definition of a great Champagne?

I like vinous Champagnes, with aromatic reliefs, with a gentler bubble. But most of all I love to be surprised by the wine.

Bulles & Millésimes: George Sand wrote "Champagne helps to wonder". Do you share this feeling?

There is an imagination linked to Champagne which is very interesting. This imagination leads to the dream.

Bulles & Millésimes Would you also say it fosters inspiration?

Tasting several cuvées of Champagne can actually encourage inspiration (laughs).

Bulles & Millésimes The winegrowers, are they the real masters of time?

Champagne, you have to wait, be patient...

For me, Champagne is all about details and we say that God is in the details…

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