Laurent-Perrier is one of the great names in Champagne. Founded in 1812, it has grown to become the 4th largest house in the region. Along the way it has justly earned its reputation for producing distinctive wines across its panoply of Cuvées; wines that deliver elegance and finesse from a house that is dedicated to combining quality with innovation.
Laurent-Perrier should not be confused with the other Champagne house with a similar name: Perrier et Jouet. They are not related. The Laurent-Perrier house style is built around the concepts of elegance and freshness in the wines they produce. It should be no surprise then that all but two of their Cuvées are made from a majority of Chardonnay, the most elegant grape grown in the Champagne region. Chardonnay’s higher acidity and citrus profile refreshes the palate whereas the Pinot Noir and Meunier tend to excel at providing body and texture. Laurent-Perrier also raises all of its different Cuvées in stainless steel tanks, which reduces the wines contact with oxygen as it ages, a technique that accentuates the fruit aspect while maintaining freshness.
In the 1930s, the de Nonancourt family acquired Laurent Perrier. Bernard de Nonancourt began working at the House as a young man and worked his way up from the bottom. He held various jobs from vineyard labourer to cellar rat, to office boy, before finally moving into sales at the firm. In 1948, at just 28 years of age, Bernard de Nonancourt was named Chairman of Laurent-Perrier. He stayed in that role until his death in 2010.
Grand Siècle was very much the product of Bernard’s vision. The Tête de Cuvée concept had been around for over 30 years when the first Grand Siècle was assembled and bottled, in 1959.
Dom Perignon got the concept really launched when it released the 1921, 11 years after the vintage, very much defining the concept. Tête de Cuvée is about creating an uber-Champagne, using only the very best grapes produced in exceptional vintages.
De Nonancourt was a Champagne traditionalist who believed in the Champagne concept of blending to create a whole that exceeds the sum of its parts. He reasoned that nature would give the region excellent harvests every few years, but never would a perfect vintage ever arrive. De Nonacourt felt that any single vintage, no matter how good, could be made to be even better by blending reserve wines from past vintages into the Cuvée.
De Nonancourt’s concept was to create a Tête de Cuvée that would be dominated by 50% to 60% grapes from one superior vintage and be supported with a lesser amount of wines from two earlier vintages.
To our knowledge, the only other two Tête de Cuvées to employ the multi-vintage concept are Krug Grand Cuvée and Andre Clouet Une Jour de 1911. The first Grand Siècle was a blend of 1955 with 1953 and 1952. Laurent-Perrier has created 24 Grande Siècles, about half the number of other Tête de Cuvées that have been created by other houses since that time. The wines are referred to by the House as “Iterations” and the most recent release is Iteration No. 24.
Iteration No. 24 is based upon the 2007 vintage, which forms 60% of the blend. There is also 20% 2006 and 20% 2004 blended in. Chardonnay makes up 55% of the grapes with the balance being Pinot Noir. Grapes are harvested from 11 of Champagne’s 17 Grand Cru Villages: the Chardonnay coming from the Cotes des Blancs villages of Avize, Cremant. Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, Chouilly and Oger, while the Pinot Noir comes from Ambonnay, Bouzy, Lourvois, Verzenay, Tour-sur-Marne and Mailly. Iteration No. 24 received 7 grams/litre of dosage and was aged in bottle for 11 years before being disgorged in 2018. This extra time on the lees has added complexity and texture to the wine. It has also meant that you can still find a few bottles in the market when most of the other Tête de Cuvées currently available for purchase are 2012 or 2013. As the following tasting note will show, this is an excellent wine to pick up while you can.
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Iteration No. 24
The Grand Siècle epitomizes the house’s style of elegance and freshness. This wine is light on its feet and gracefully shows its character that is all about smoothness and finesse. Light to medium in body it shows restraint on the palate and asks the taster to come seek out its structure rather than flaunting it. Flavours lean toward citrus and green apple with complexity coming from almond notes as well hints of rising bread. These all come together with a sense of great refinement. A more delicate Tête de Cuvée making it unique in a category that is often driven by power.