Grand Tasting : NV La Cuvée Brut, 2015 Millésimé Brut, NV Cuvée Rosé Brut, NV Grande Siècle Nº26 Brut
Gala Dinner : NV Grand Siècle Iteration.23 Magnum Brut, NV Rosé Magnum Brut
This prestigious house was founded in 1812 by Alphonse Pierlot, a former cooper from Chigny-lès-Roses. He eventually passed it on to his cellarmaster, Eugène Laurent, and upon Laurent’s death in 1887, his widow Mathilde Emilie Perrier took over the house, joining their two surnames to form the company of Veuve Laurent-Perrier & Cie. Her daughter Eugénie Hortense Laurent inherited the house in 1925, but sold it in 1939 to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt, who was the sister of Victor and Henri Lanson, owners of the Champagne house of the same name. At this time, Laurent-Perrier was struggling, having had to cope with the worldwide economic depression as well as being faced with the imminent war. Marie-Louise de Nonancourt managed the company during the Second World War, and in 1949, her son Bernard took control of the house.
Bernard de Nonancourt had been an Army sergeant during the war, and active in the French Resistance. In fact, his older brother Maurice might have been the one to head the house following the war, but sadly, Maurice was taken prisoner by the Nazis and killed in the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp. Bernard, upon returning from the war, apprenticed at Lanson and Delamotte before taking over Laurent-Perrier, and he immediately began developing the house and establishing the style of wine that it continues to exhibit today.
In the 1950s, for example, de Nonancourt began working with stainless steel tanks in the house’s cellars. Inspired by their use in beer brewing, he saw them as a means of achieving greater freshness and finesse in his wines, as well as allowing for greater consistency and temperature control during fermentation. By 1964, all barrels at the house had been replaced with stainless steel tanks. In addition, de Nonancourt made a conscious effort to rely heavily on chardonnay in his blends, at a time when many other houses favored pinot-dominated champagnes. This, too, was an effort to introduce more freshness and elegance into Laurent-Perrier’s wines, and to produce champagnes more suited to drinking as an aperitif or at the beginning of the meal rather than during dessert.
Under de Nonancourt, the house’s first cellarmaster was Edouard Leclerc, who made the wines until 1975. Alain Terrier was appointed as his successor, presiding over the cellars during a period of tremendous growth for the house. Upon Terrier’s retirement in 2004, Michel Fauconnet (pictured), who has been with Laurent-Perrier since 1973, was appointed chef de cave. Michel Boulaire is the company’s chairman, while Alexandra Pereyre and Stéphanie Meneux, Bernard de Nonancourt’s two daughters, are the directors of the house.
Laurent-Perrier continues to be based in the village of Tours-sur-Marne, where it was founded, and recent years have seen significant expansions in the winery facilities. A new cuverie was constructed in 2009, and in 2012, a new cellar has been set aside exclusively for the production of Grand Siècle, Laurent-Perrier’s prestige cuvée. The house is also the flagship brand of the Laurent-Perrier Group, which includes the champagne houses of Salon, Delamotte and De Castellane.