While Laurent–Perrier is a 200-year-old company, its story is really one of a modern renaissance that dates from 1948 when upon his return from WW2, a former French Resistance fighter named Bernard de Nonacourt took over running the struggling champagne house purchased by his mother Madame Louise Lanson de Nonanacourt in 1939. No slave to tradition, Bernard began challenging closely held conventions to redefine how champagne was produced and consumed.
This spirit of independence, of doing things our own way, still defines everything we stand for as a House. And it’s the difference you can taste today, across the full range of cuvées we produce.
The newest champagne in the portfolio, out this summer, with Taste being the first opportunity for it to be tasted by a UK audience.
It defies the typical understanding of what constitutes a ‘Champagne occasion’, finding the magic in everyday moments and enjoying La Cuvée to mark them. These moments can be anything from having fish and chips at home, paired with a bottle of La Cuvée, enjoying glass after a busy week once the kids are safely tucked up in bed, or at an impromptu gathering, such as a BBQ with the neighbours.
The only Grande with the warrant of the Prince of Wales, and the Grande with the highest proportion Marque of chardonnay in a Brut NV. In the words of Alain Terrier, cellar master for 29 years between 1975 and 2004, it is simply ‘un vin de plaisir’, the perfect aperitif.
Our Demi-Sec champagne is a sweeter style that was much-appreciated in the 18th century. Champagne lovers are again rediscovering the freshness and rich intensity of this style and Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec in particular.
Forsaking the easy option of just adding additional sugar at the dosage stage to the standard Brut, Michel Fauconnet, our cellar master, devised a cuvée with slightly more Pinot Noir and Pinot Menuier to add weight to the palate to carry the additional sugar.
The Demi-Sec has a brilliant and intense golden yellow colour, richly expressive, it opens with aromas of peaches, almonds and hazelnuts, followed by slightly toasted aromas. After a few years, the nose will evolve towards deeper notes of honey and pine resin. Full-bodied and generous, it is a rich wine with a rounded feel. The richness of the Demi-Sec pairs naturally with sweet dessert dishes and is also a perfect to complement cakes and pastries.
Originally launched in 1889 (the year the Eiffel Tower opened) by Mathilde Emilie-Perrier, it was re-launched in 1981 by Bernard de Nonancourt in response to the growth of nouvelle cuisine as a perfect foil for the dishes that were being created.
Ultra Brut is a totally natural champagne made without the addition of dosage in the form of the liqueur d’expédition as is the case with other champagne styles. Ultra Brut tends to be made from grapes grown in vintage years with the current cuvée being based on the 2009 vintage, which Michel describes as ‘round and very fresh’.
The wine is crystal clear and bright with a steady flow of small bubbles. The nose is refined, slightly stony in character, subtle and with notes of honeysuckle and hazelnuts. Of all Laurent-Perrier champagnes it is the most natural, most wine like, not dissimilar to a Chablis as it displays a minerally, stony character.
The decision to declare a vintage at Laurent-Perrier is made by the cellar master only if two conditions are met: firstly only if enough chardonnay grapes are available to protect the quality of La Cuvée and secondly if the grapes are sufficiently expressive of the year. The high percentage of chardonnay in the La Cuvée is the reason we do not produce a Blanc des Blancs. Made exclusively from the 2007 harvest it has been evolving gracefully in our cellars until Michel Fauconnet decided it is ready to release.
Our strict criteria result in Laurent-Perrier making vintage champagne far less frequently than other houses declaring only 31 vintages between 1945 and 2007 whilst there have been 49 general declarations in this period.
‘The best of the best of the best’
Whilst there is no such thing as a perfect year in champagne, Bernard de Nonancourt believed that through blending it is possible to create the perfect champagne.
Bernard de Nonancourt’s inspiration for this wine was found in his grandfather’s precious tasting notebook which detailed the subtle differences between the various growths within Champagne and how these same growths varied from vintage to vintage. Bernard observed that there were years of exceptional freshness, years where finesse predominated and others when wines were much more structured. So, contrary to everything being done in Champagne, he decided to create a prestige cuvée that was not a single vintage but instead used several vintages, each with excellent but different characteristics. In effect, blending the best with the best to obtain the best, and so his quest for perfection began.
It was first released in 1959 though it had been previewed the year before when Bernard sought the opinion of some visiting restaurateurs from the Cote D’Azur. The first cuvée was based on 1955, 53 and 52 vintages, today we are tasting the 17th iteration.
The bottle is a replica of a bottle from 1705 in the midst of the ‘Sun King’s reign’ of Louis XIV, a period of unprecedented prosperity for France and this champagne celebrates that period.
Released in 1968, Bernard de Nonancourt and Laurent-Perrier have been responsible for the rehabilitation of the rose style and have pioneered the category to become its most respected producer, one which adds an air of glamour to the category.
The grapes are harvested being sorted twice, once in the vineyard and again at the press house. They are added to the presses and gently crushed so the skin of the grapes is in contact with the juice for a short period of time. Champagne is the only appellation in France that can make a rosé by blending still red and white wine together. Laurent-Perrier defies convention and chooses not to.
In the good old days every bottle of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé was pre-sold on allocation, be you Waitrose or The Dorchester and today, still, it is an indulgent champagne that is enjoyed to celebrate exceptional occasions and romantic moments, with its uniquely distinctive bottle and iconic feminine curvaceous lines.
Utilising the House’s undisputed expertise at producing rosé champagne, Bernard de Nonancourt wanted to go on to produce a prestige cuvée to challenge the conventions of what a prestige cuvée could be.
Only being made in years when both chardonnay and pinot noir reach maturity simultaneously, they are macerated together before being crushed and turned into still wines. It is this small percentage of chardonnay that gives Cuvée Alexandra its unique colour. Our 2004 Cuvée Alexandra is only the 7th release since its first.
The first release, the 1982 vintage, was unveiled at Bernard de Nonanacourt's eldest daughter's wedding in 1987. Unbeknownst to Alexandra, Bernard had prepared this unique cuvée and named it in her honour, presenting it to her as a gift at the wedding reception. It has been considered one of the finest rose champagnes in the world.