Laurent-Perrier is one of the wine world’s most recognisable brands, most famous for itsrosé Champagne and distinct bell-shaped bottle.
Founded originally in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot, the estate took on the Laurent-Perrier when Mathilde Emilie Perrier expanded the business and combined her family name with that of her late husband, Eugène Laurent. It remained in the Laurent-Perrier family until 1939 when it was sold to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to manage the estate today.
During the Second World War, Lanson de Nonancourt’s two sons both worked in the French Resistance. In 1945 her son Bernard de Nonancourt returned to the business to start an apprenticeship learning every aspect of grape growing and wine production. By 1948 he had become Laurent-Perrier’s Chairman and Chief Executive (aged just 28). He would remain at the head of the estate for the next 62 years! Bernard de Nonancourt took what was a relatively small Champagne House and turned it into one of the world’s biggest Champagne brands.
Keen for Laurent-Perrier to be distinct, Nonancourt set out to create a unique Champagne style that it remains known for today, with an emphasis on freshness, finesse and elegance incorporating single vineyard vinifications and low temperature fermentations always in stainless steel. Today the estate is run by his two daughters Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt and Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt, with the fourth generation now also involved – Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt representing the house’s prestige cuvée, Grand Siècle.
Another important figure in Laurent-Perrier’s recent history is their cellar master Michel Fauconnet who has worked at the estate for nearly 50 years. He is also the winemaker behind the mystical Salon Champagne House.
Laurent-Perrier produces eight cuvées in total, of which the best known are the Cuvée Rosé and their staple non-vintage La Cuvée. Their Cuvée Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. The grapes are macerated for 48-72 hours to extract the deep colour and richness the Champagne is famous for. Other than their two rosé wines (there’s also a vintage wine), the wines are dominated by Chardonnay, helping build their characteristic elegance and finesse.
The House was the first Grande Marque to produce a zero-dosage Champagne with the release of their Ultra Brut in 1981. Other cuvées include their Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature, their Alexandra (which is their vintage rosé), their vintage cuvée and their demi-sec called Harmony.
Their prestige cuvée Grand Siècle is their top Champagne. The philosophy behind the wine is that it captures all the potential qualities a vintage in Champagne is capable of – but that are rarely found in a single year.
There have been just 24 different iterations of Grand Siècle since its conception in 1959. The concept of the cuvée came to Bernard de Nonancourt from observing nature. He recognised that Champagne has a difficult climate – every harvest is very different, but quality is also very different. The perfect year didn’t exist. For him, a great Champagne was one that has reached aromatic complexity, without losing any of its vivacity and freshness – and that was what he aimed to create with Grand Siècle.
He set up three rules for producing an “Itération” of Grand Siècle. Firstly, it should always be made of three vintages. Secondly, it should always be Chardonnay-dominant. And thirdly, it must all come exclusively from the Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. Each release is 15 years in the making: once all three vintages have been selected, they are blended then spend at least 10 years on lees. The wines do not see any oak and are made as reductively as possible, another key to the cuvée’s freshness. The wine is only released when ready to drink.
Laurent-Perrier have access to 320 village ACs in Champagne including 17 Grands Crus and 44 Premiers Crus. All the wines are fermented in stainless steels tanks at low temperatures in order to preserve freshness and retain aromatic complexity.