History of Laurent-Perrier
Although originally founded in 1812, the name Champagne Laurent-Perrier was not conceived until 1964. It was Bernard de Nonancourt who initiated Laurent-Perrier’s rise to world fame. One of Champagne’s most important figures in the 20th century, he officially took over in 1948 after a three-year apprenticeship at the Houses of Delamotte and Lanson. In his 62-year tenure, production grew from 80,000 bottles annually to over eight million. Under de Nonancourt, Laurent-Perrier were the first House to use stainless-steel vats and the first House to create both a zero dosage champagne (Ultra Brut) and a multi-vintage prestige cuvée (Grand Siècle). Sadly, de Nonancourt passed away in 2010 and Laurent-Perrier is now managed by his two daughters, Alexandra and Stéphanie alongside Cellar Master Michel Fauconnet and has become one of the region’s largest producers, they are perhaps best known for Cuvée Rosé, the most recognised rosé champagne on the planet.
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.
The idea behind Grand Siècle
The idea of Grand Siècle was born from a simple observation: that nature would never provide the perfect oenological year, but that thanks to the art of assemblage, Laurent-Perrier could in fact create it. Always a blend of three exceptional vintages that perfectly complement each other, Grand Siècle was launched in 1959 as a blend of 1952, 1953 and 1955. Bernard de Nonancourt who wanted to produce the ‘perfect vintage champagne’ blended grapes sourced from 11 of the 17 Grand Cru villages in Champagne. In addition the grape juice is fermented in 100% stainless-steel tanks as Laurent-Perrier very much believe in keeping the juice away from oxygen and protecting those floral aromatics.
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. Only 24 iterations have been produced in 65 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.
Grand Siècle Iteration 23
This release is a blend of 2006 – 65% | 2004 – 20% | 2002 – 15%
The 23rd iteration of this unusual prestige cuvée was released in bottle in 2017 but without the ’23’ on the label. From June 2019, new releases of Laurent-Perrier Grande Siecle MV will be labelled by their Iteration number on the neck of the bottle identifying the three vintages comprising the prestige cuvée. This iteration is 23 in magnum and was released 26th October 2021.
Vineyards: 100% Grand Cru | Chardonnay: Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger | Pinot Noir: Ambonnay, Bouzy, Louvois, Mailly, Tours-sur-Marne, Verzenay
Grape Varieties: 58% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir
Ageing: 14 years on the lees
Dosage: 7 g/l
Disgorged: April 2020
This has an intense nose, slight smoky note #magnumeffect to begin and really intense lemon richness, with grapefruit and some redcurrant notes. With time in the glass, more flavours of brioche, grilled almonds and honey emerge. This Grand Siècle has a lightness and delicacy and is so refreshing. The magnums age for decades. 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.
Pairs with high quality produce and refined dishes, in particular shellfish such as lobster, noble fish such as roasted turbot or with truffled poulard.
99/100 James Suckling – www.jamessuckling.com
“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 Jancis Robinson – www.jancisrobinson.com
“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. Deep straw. Even immediately on opening the room was full of the aroma of a beautifully balanced, vital champagne with lots of age but no heaviness. There’s a certain amount of richness but the richness of age, and it’s clear that Chardonnay is the dominant ingredient. Really zingy nose with a tiny, almost invisible, bead that is refreshing without being remotely aggressive. There is some sensation of confit lemons (including a hint of saltiness) and this is really very, very lively. But the most obvious quality of this wine is its incredible persistence. It deserves so much attention.”
19/20 Nick Baker – www.thefinestbubble.com
“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.”