Hedonism Meets… Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt

Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt tending the vines

Hedonism Wines talks to Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt, fourth generation at Champagne Laurent-Perrier and eldest daughter of Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt, who currently manages this iconic House together with her sister, Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt. Lucie joined the company in September 2019 and represents the iconic Grand Siècle both in France and on the international stage.

"The style of champagne [Bernard de Nonancourt] wanted to produce based on freshness, elegance and finesse”

 

Can you tell our readers a little about the family history behind your Champagne house? 

Laurent-Perrier has existed since 1812, but it has belonged to my family since 1939. It was my great grandmother who at that time bought this small domaine. Upon his return from WWII, my grandfather, Bernard de Nonancourt, took over the company, becoming the director at only 28 years old. 

He first began to define the style of champagne he wanted to produce based on freshness, elegance and finesse. In order to obtain this, he chose Chardonnay as the main grape variety while everyone else was giving preference to Pinot Noir; opted for a vinification without any oxygen when the other houses were using oak barrels; and lowered the dosage at a time when Champagne was served at dessert and indeed quite sweet. That was then very innovative. He applied this innovation to all the cuvées he created subsequently, from the Grand Siècle (a unique prestige cuvée based on a blend of 3 exceptional vintages) up to the Cuvée Rosé Alexandra (a fine Rosé based on maceration of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). All these innovations led to Laurent-Perrier becoming the 4th Champagne brand in only 40 years!   

Today it is my mother and aunt [Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt and Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt], who are at the head of the company. I joined the family business from the 2019 harvest after obtaining my WSET diploma and gaining experience at a winery in Rioja, Spain.

A view from the vineyards at Laurent-Perrier





You officially joined the family business in 2019: What has your journey at Laurent-Perrier been like so far – especially given these past tumultuous Covid years? 

I certainly arrived in a complicated context but at the same time, it is through difficulty that you learn best and grow stronger.

I took advantage of this time of Covid to both learn about the history of our House and to work in the vineyards with our team - in order to really understand the origin of our story, our values, and our role towards nature. I also spent time with our Cellar Master to really get a good understanding of our special approach to winemaking, especially for Grand Siècle as it requires more precision and specific know-how.



What does representing Grand Siècle, Laurent-Perrier’s Prestige Cuvée involve?

The first year was mostly about learning. It is still the case today as I am learning new things every day; but now I have the even greater challenge of explaining the secrets behind the creation of Grand Siècle to our different markets. My goal is to make people see how unique Grand Siècle is among the other prestige cuvées.

My role has also evolved and I increasingly participate in the vins clairs tastings throughout the year, especially when doing the assemblage of Grand Siècle, which I find a truly extraordinary experience…

…it is the innovative spirit of Laurent-Perrier that sets it apart”



What is it that sets Laurent-Perrier apart from other Champagne houses? 

Laurent-Perrier is still a family and independent Champagne House, which is quite scarce nowadays. I also think that it is the innovative spirit of Laurent-Perrier that sets it apart. Since the beginning, most of our cuvées have brought something new to their category: Grand Siècle in 1959 by being a blend of 3 exceptional vintages; Cuvée Rosé in 1968 by being a rosé obtained through maceration -  launched at a time when the rosé was not famous; Ultra Brut in 1971 by starting the new category of zéro dosage which did not exist at the time; and today our latest innovation of the first Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature among the big Champagne Houses.

The winery at Champagne Laurent-Perrier



What would be your ideal food pairing for Grand Siècle?

There are many actually! As we are able to pair it with different iterations (different blends) of Grand Siècle. But as a general recommendation, I would say that Grand Siècle is best served with ‘noble’ fish or meat, or with truffles and mushrooms! 



What do you see as the future challenges and opportunities for the Champagne industry?

Our challenge will be to preserve our AOC obviously, not only in terms of image but also in terms of sustainability. If the entire Champagne region is moving toward a better care for its environment, we still have a lot to do! Especially now that we [the Champagne region] are listed as a UNESCO Word Heritage Site.

Moreover, because of the evolution in sales this past year, which is growing very fast, we need to ensure that we grow not only in volume, but also continue to grow in quality and in value.



Fourth generation of the family, do you feel any pressure in following in such a long line of success? What new approaches would you like to bring to Laurent-Perrier?

Of course! You always feel a pressure to do the right things. But it is a good pressure, one that gives you the determination to do even better. The most important thing is to always work to ensure the quality of the wines. For the moment, I am still learning, but I know that I will always try to follow our values and our vision in the best possible ways. 

 

Grand Siècle is a unique concept because it is the only prestige cuvée based on a blend of 3 exceptional vintages”

 

At Hedonism we stock Grand Siècle and Cuvée Alexandra Rosé. Can you tell us a little about these two Cuvées: how are they made and what it is that make them so unique? 

Grand Siècle is a unique concept because it is the only prestige cuvée based on a blend of 3 exceptional vintages in order to recreate the perfect year, that nature cannot give us. The perfect year is for us a Champagne that has reached a high aromatic complexity over time and at the same time that has maintained its freshness and vivacity. 

The creation of Grand Siècle is based on 3 principles: It is always going to be a blend of 3 exceptional vintages chosen for their complementarity, always a majority of Chardonnay completed by Pinot Noir sourced from a selection of 11 Grands Crus and finally a minimum of 10 years of ageing on lees. For these reasons we have only been able to produce 25 iterations/blends of Grand Siècle since its launch in 1959. 



What would you say are the best vintages to look out for at Laurent-Perrier?

First it is important to remember that Laurent-Perrier rarely declares vintages. From 1950 until 2012, Laurent-Perrier have declared only 30 vintages, whereas the Champagne region have declared 48 vintages! It means that we are very selective in terms of quality when we decide to do a vintage.

Then, we can see that amongst our vintages, they are very different from one another and we never get the same expression. We use these irregularities as strengths and play with their complementarity in order to recreate this perfect year that nature cannot give us. This is what we seek to achieve with Grand Siècle, every time we produce a new iteration.

Picking grapes at the Laurent-Perrier vineyards



What is the ageability of Grand Siècle – how many years will it hold in bottle? 

In order to produce a new iteration of Grand Siècle, from the outset we need to select very high quality raw material. Firstly, it will be only when we have 3 exceptional vintages. In those 3 vintages we will pick Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from a selection of 11 Grands Crus. Once we have them pressed and vinified separately in stainless steel tank in a very reductive style with no influence of oxygen, we then have to taste every vin clair to see its potential for long term ageing. The best ones will be kept for the final blend. Once the new iteration of Grand Siècle has been created, it will be aged for a minimum of 10 years on its lees, longer still for the magnum format.

With this in mind, it is difficult to say how many years the wine will hold in bottle. However, having tasted old iterations dating back to the 80s, which are still showing bright freshness, I must say that we are talking in decades here…

Laurent Perrier La Cuvee
75 cl / 12% ABV / 347 Available
RP
91
Rated 91 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Laurent Perrier La Cuvee
White
Champagne Blend
12%
75cl
Champagne
France
347 Available
£45.00
Buy Now
Laurent Perrier Rose Brut
75 cl / 12% ABV / 484 Available
RP
92
Rated 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Laurent Perrier Rose Brut
Rose
Champagne Blend
12%
75cl
Champagne
France
484 Available
£63.40
Buy Now
Laurent Perrier Alexandra 2004
75 cl / 12% ABV / 22 Available
RP
95
Rated 95 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Laurent Perrier Alexandra 2004
Rose
Chardonnay - Pinot Noir
12%
75cl
Champagne
France
22 Available
£240.00
Buy Now
Laurent Perrier Rose Brut Magnum
150 cl / 12.5% ABV / 0 Available
RP
92
Rated 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Laurent Perrier Rose Brut Magnum
Rose
Champagne Blend
12.5%
150cl
Champagne
France
£160.00
Currently Unavailable