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The Secrets of Eden At Japanese geisha clubs, a French champagne master shows his successor the art of seduction. By Justin Jin

Cellar master Hervé Deschamps has hosted many “mamasan dinners” in Japan during his 23 visits, helping powerful managers of geisha clubs appreciate the floral complexity in his champagne.

Copyright 2019 by Justin Jin. Full story text available on request.

Deschamps hopes the mamasans and their escorts girls will later recount the wine’s poems to their male clients, helping his venerable champagne house reach one of the world’s most discerning luxury markets.
Tonight in Osaka, these elegant women sipped vintage cuvées as they listen to “Papa Champagne” describe a mystical room underneath his office called “the Eden”, where the world’s oldest bottles of effervescent wines have laid silent for two centuries.
Cellar master Hervé Deschamps signs a bottle for a client.
Séverine Frerson prepares to take over the role of cellar master.
Severeine Frerson, 43, had been instructed to shadow Deschamps quietly on this journey from France. At the dinner in the hotel’s grand ballroom, she mingled with the kimono-clad women, nodding and applauding dutifully at the right moments as the grand master speaks to the 200 mamasans. Finally, the reason for her presence is revealed. Deschamps announces his coming retirement and turns towards Frerson; she rises proudly to acknowledge her role as Perrier-Joiuët’s eight cellar master, a secret kept hidden from the house’s biggest market until tonight. Gasps escaped from the normally reserved mamasans.
Frerson and Deschamps in a bullet train shooting past Mount Fuji.
In his 26 year career as cellar master, Deschamps has personified the grand marque, creating new cuvées and projecting Perrier-Jouët’s taste, story and heritage to the world. Frerson’s arrival is a monumental change of guard at one of the world’s most prestigious houses. “There have only been six transmissions in the house’s two centuries,” explains Christophe Danneaux, the head of Perrier-Jouët. That means the cellar’s secrets have passed between just seven men. Now, for the first time, they will pass to a woman.
“When you are at Perrier-Jouët, you create beauty,” Deschamps says. “I will teach Séverine the sensitivity to recognise what is the best”.
Frerson, a Champenois, studied oenology at the University of Reims. In 2002, she joined Piper-Heidsieck as an intern and began working her way up, earning the title of head winemaker after 16 years. She is one of only a handful of women to hold such a position in Champagne.
When Deschamps shows Frerson her bureau, he presents her with a metal key to the cellar, holding many thousands of reserve wines in its 10 kilometer chalk tunnels. “There are not many people who have this key," Deschamps says to a stunned Frerson. She had not expected to be given the key to the house’s most prized possessions on day one.
Founded in 1811 in Epernay, the capital of Champagne, Perrier-Jouët’s story begins in a room called Eden, a locked part of the cellar deep in the tunnels 20 meters below ground. Here live the oldest bottles of champagne in existence today -- two bottles of 1825, verified by the Guinness Book of Records, laying alongside the first bottles of Belle Epoque of the 1864 vintage. "You're right below our bureau, where the cellar master's spirit comes down to look for inspiration from the most beautiful and the oldest bottles,” Deschamps tells Frerson. “This is a part of Perrier-Jouët's memory, where all of life stays," Deschamps says as Frerson steps inside the cobweb-filled room for the very first time.

Justin Jin photographs and writes long form stories for the world’s leading publications.

He is also a knowledgeable wine-taster, having been in his younger years the prize-winning captain of the Cambridge University blind tasting team.

Justin and his team winning the 1994 Cambridge vs Oxford wine tasting championship.

Justin presents real, deeply reported, beautiful multimedia packages that tell the story of wines and spirits (and many other industries) to the world. Combining visual storytelling and wine is, therefore, a marriage in heaven for Justin.

International prizes attest to his dedication. He was awarded the Magnum Photography Prize, a place at the World Press Photo Masterclass, Canon Prize, among others.

Speaking five languages -- English, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Russian, French and Dutch, Justin cuts through cultural barriers to the heart of diverse themes.

He splits his time among Brussels, China and wherever the story takes him.

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