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La Vie en Rose

It is 21 years since I wrote my first Listener drink column. In that time I have never repeated a tasting note and I am not about to start now, but, for the second time in a matter of months, I am writing here about Perrier Jouët's remarkable La Belle Époque Rosé.

Last time it was the 1998 and this time it is the 2002, and for those cynics out there I am not in the pay of Champagne house Perrier Jouët. Rather, I am in the thrall of its lovely prestige cuvée rosé. It was also the special wine my daughter selected to have served at the bridal table for her wedding this week.

After I recovered from the surprise that one of my children would want the full, white-wedding romantic number, the luxury of a fabulous bottle or two of great wine for the happy couple seemed entirely appropriate. Champagne was designed for weddings, or similar grand occasions, and as this was one of the grand occasions of my life, as well as hers, it seemed fitting to match it with a sensational bottle.

Trying to explain why this wine tasted so exceptionally romantic is like trying to analyse the chemistry of love, and about as pointless. Let's just say that the pink-hued, wonderfully fragrant, delicate, persistent wine matched the grace and style of the day with ease; the only problem was that I could not afford to have it available by the case.

La Belle Époque was the era of Parisian glamour, when art nouveau made its appearance on the Metro as well as in the city's salons and cafés, giving the 20th century a brief sensuality. This was when Paris added another dimension to the notion of naughty, which had already been embellished by the reputation of champagne.

Champagne is more bank than boudoir these days, but there is enough vivacity left in its sparkle to cast a rosy glow over a wedding party, or any other special event you care to imagine.

Email: keith@sommnet.com

==TRY THIS PERRIER JOUËT 2002 LA BELLE ÉPOQUE ROSÉ==

After she saw the bottle that the 1998 came in, then tasted the wine, my daughter insisted on a couple of these for the bridal table. I sneaked a glass - for professional reasons, of course - and it was a wonder. It was like coming across music on the air while walking in a leafy wood, a wafting trail of ethereal beauty that stays with you long after the sound has faded. Expensive, but also priceless and, because it added to the day, unforgettable. AVAILABLE: yes.

FOR: heaps.