The Beginning of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle
The Grand Siècle concept was born in 1953 by Laurent-Perrier’s charismatic owner Bernard de Nonancourt who wanted to produce the ‘perfect vintage champagne’, knowing a single year was unlikely to provide that, he blended three great vintages, allowing the creation of his ‘perfect vintage’. The Iteration series is blended from grapes sourced from 11 of the 17 Grand Cru villages in Champagne.
The multi-vintage concept consists of three vintages of reserve wines blended together. Although the crus vary blend-by-blend, some villages feature fairly consistently, such as Aÿ, Bouzy, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Tours-sur-Marne. True to the original concept the current release is the 26th Iteration of this champagne, the first iteration or “multi vintage blend” being launched in 1959 from the vintages 1952, 1953 and 1955. Only 26 iterations have been produced in 66 years with 45 vintages declared over the same period. Today there is much longer lees ageing, differing slightly according to the Iteration and the bottle size, all of which is key to subtle flavour and texture development. Combined with the distinctive long and narrow necked bottles, the stainless steel winemaking is further enhanced ‘reductively’ to give you amazingly fresh and energetic champagnes that are more Chardonnay dominant than Pinot Noir.
Bernard de Nonancourt
In October 1948, aged 28, Bernard de Nonancourt was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of Laurent-Perrier. He was one of the rare owners of a Champagne House to have done all the jobs of his future employees after being a vines labourer, cellar and office worker and a sales representative. Bernard de Nonancourt injected a dynamic momentum into the business. Keen on innovation, strongly attached to champagne traditions and to quality, he forged the commercial culture of Laurent-Perrier and created a renowned brand with a range of unique champagnes. He became President of Laurent-Perrier at the age of 28, in 1948 and held that role for 62 years until he passed away in 2010.
Continuing the Family Legacy
The brand’s vision still runs in the family, since 2010 it has been continued by his daughters Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt and Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt, who accompany the Chairman Stéphane Dalyac and Michel Fauconnet, Cellar Master and Production Manager forming the Laurent-Perrier Management Board. Michel has been at the company for 40 years, progressing from Cellarman in 1974 to assistant Chef de Cave in 1983 until his appointment as Cellar Master in 2004. In September 2019, Laurent-Perrier further strengthened itself with the arrival of Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt, Alexandra’s eldest daughter who is representing Grand Siècle worldwide. She is training with the Cellar Master and the Production and Salesforce teams, thus becoming part of Laurent-Perrier’s innovative team.
Pioneering Use of Stainless Steel
Laurent-Perrier, renowned for its distinctive style, a mix of freshness, finesse, and elegance was among the first houses to introduce stainless steel tanks for fermentation and storage of reserve wines. The Grand Siècle fermentation room holds fourteen, 110-hectolitre tanks.
Grand Siècle Iterations 1 to 26 – Specifications and Critic’s Scores
Listed below for Iterations 1 to 26 are the core specifications and Wine Critic Scores. In addition to these rating are some extra tasting notes; in November 2019, Peter Crawford (@alavolee) organised a tasting of fourteen different Iterations from Iteration 24, right back to Iteration 2, including all three Grand Siècle formats, Bottle, Magnum and Jeroboam. All fifthteen of Nick’s tasting notes and scores are below (Nick Baker, TFB Founder) and Peter’s Top Five:
75cl “A fresh and mellow, supple Grand Siècle with understated elegance. Highly balanced in 75cl bottles even if not one of the most impressive blends. Starting to show signs of evolution. A wholly different story in magnum, which showed majestically at the 2014 CSWWC. The complexity and refinement was just mind-blowing. World Champion Deluxe Magnum, 96 points with further potential.”
Magnum “The 23rd iteration of this unusual prestige cuvée was released in bottle in 2017 but without the ’23’ on the label. And even in this case it is only on the neck and back labels. It’s the usual blend of three vintages of grand cru ingredients, in this case the highest-ever proportion of Chardonnay: 58% from the Côte des Blancs with 42% of Pinot Noir from mainly the north of the Montagne de Reims. The blend, of 65% 2006, 20% 2004 and 15% 2002, spent a full 14 years on the lees. They will disgorge usually annually with 7 g/l dosage in this case. The ingredients came from small plots in 11 different grands crus: Le Mesnil, Avize, Cramant, Chouilly and Oger for the Chardonnay and Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzy, Verzenay, Mailly and their base Tours-sur-Marne for the Pinot Noir. None of these details is given on the front or back label however”
Magnum “Fabulous aromas of brioche, pie crust, lemon tart and fresh apple. Full-bodied, very dense and layered with freshness and energy that couples well with the palate. Powerful acidity gives great structure to this. Goes on for minutes. Extremely structured. Three vintages – 2006 (65%), 2004 (20%) and 2002 (15%). Blend of 58% chardonnay and 42% pinot noir. From 11 grand crus. Aged in magnums. One for the cellar. Available only magnum. In Europe from mid-October 2021. Drink or hold”
|19/20 Nick Baker | thefinestbubble.com Nov 2019|
|Magnum “Compared to 24 it seems more restrained on the aromatics yet the palate is more richly textured, probably its the result of the longer time on lees. This richness really fills out the mid palate and some zesty lemon and hint of grapefruit are very attractive components. There is a hint of aniseed and dried grass on the finish with again that trademark saline lift at the end which keeps it fresh and clean. Long length goes on and on.”|