Laurent-Perrier shares an epicurean vision with champagne lovers all over the world and has no higher ambition than to demonstrate an elegant Art de Vivre la française, charged with emotion.
The success of Laurent-Perrier was driven by the energy of the family of Bernard de Nonancourt, the initiator of the Laurent-Perrier style and range, now overseen by his two daughters, Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt and Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt. Their efforts are now focused on perpetuating his exacting standards and elegance and on preserving the independence of a House while asserting the epicurean vision of the brand.
In an afternoon during the Hong Kong Vinexpo 2018, I was lucky to meet with Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt, the owner of Laurent Perrier, and had an exclusive interview on the Laurent Perrier story.
Founded in 1812- A Young Champagne House
Laurent Perrier was a succession of stories of different families. The House of Laurent-Perrier was founded in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot and took the name Vve Laurent-Perrier when Mathilde Emilie Perrier, the widow of Eugène Laurent, combined the two family names after she decided to expand the business. She managed the business well but it was a little champagne house. Eugénie Hortense Laurent, her daughter, inherited the House in 1925 and sold it to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939.
My Grandmother Marie-Louise de Nonancourt bought the company. She has 4 children including 2 sons, and it was important for her to guarantee and build the future for the children. This is the time at the beginning of the World War II, that’s why our champagne house is closely related to the history.” said Alexandra.
The Distinction of Laurent Perrier- the Creativity and Hard Work Lead to Succeed
During the early 1900s, women took important role in champagne when men was flight in the world war II. Bernard de Nonancourt, the son of Marie-Louise de Nonancourt, father of Alexandra, wanted to join the champagne house after fight in the war, after the lost of his elder brother in the war.
My grandmother told him, ‘‘Now you are the chief of the family, you know what we have. Live as a family, I lost my husband in the World War I, and now you lost your brother in the World War II. So now you have to succeed.’’ The pressure was there, as at the time Laurent Perrier was nobody- around 100th position in the classification among all the champagne houses. We had good reputation among the winegrower world, but not really in the business world.’ said Alexandra.
When my father took the company, he was 28 years old, with 20 staff working in the cellar. He has to create everything himself even he was a nobody in the champagne world. He decided distinguish the brand- to create a style to the Laurent Perrier brand name.’ Alexandra also added that at that time champagne was consumed at the end of the meal. The style of champagne was made much more sweeter, and only served after the meal as a toast to the dessert.
My father was the first one to make champagne to serve as aperitif. He wants to bring freshness to the wine, he also wanted to bring new type of style- the backbone of the new style is the pinot noir grape.’ Bernard was the first one to determine pinot noir style with chardonnay. Chardonnay grape variety is usually the last grape to mature during the harvest. At that time, during the time of harvest, if the weather changes, the harvest must be done quickly, otherwise the outcome could be terrible financially. Therefore it is still a minority to plant chardonnay in champagne area.
The second key to succeed is the partnership with the winegrowers. ‘My father had a human contact with people, he was the one who contact with the winegrowers- the people who are working at the soil. In champagne, 90% of the land are owned by the vine growers, therefore you have to create good partnership with winegrowers, and give them a feeling to work together as a partner, not only a commercial relationship.’ Alexandra said, ‘My father worked very hard on this, today we are very proud to have a relationship that is built on the confidence, and professionalism.’
The Laurent Perrier Style - Purity, Freshness, Elegance
The Laurent Perrier Champagne style created by Bernard de Nonancourt is characterised by 3 main words- purity, freshness, elegance. ‘Talking about purity, my father didn’t want to interfere the fresh pure aromas inside the grape variety with the oak barrel - he wanted to reveal the aromas instead. Because he worked from stretch, he worked very hard and had the capacity to invent the right technical vinification method to create what he wanted to retain.’ said Alexandra.
Behind the freshness and elegancy, the key is the chardonnay grapes. Chardonnay can bring capacity for aging. ‘Growing in the chalky soil, the chardonnay grows with complexity brought by the soil, this chardonnay for champagne is perfect.’ added by Alexandra, ‘This is what we called “beautiful acidity” – bring along all the aging, structure the freshness.’
For elegance, we believes in the blending- to create wines that are distinctively well structured in order to offer complexity and at the same time maintain the freshness.’ Alexandra said, ‘When you drink a glass of Laurent Perrier, you are attracted by the another one. It is not a wine that you only want to taste. We are totally pioneer in that type of wine.’
Laurent Perrier in less than 40 years created a unique range of total 7 styles of champagnes- with distinctively different styles.
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