The perfect way to kick off the weekend is with champagne, lots and lots of champagne … and this is exactly how a few champagne-friends and I started our weekend when I hosted a tasting through a range of some Laurent-Perrier cuvées last Friday.
Some of these I have had for a while and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share, while others were compliments of the distributors of Laurent-Perrier South Africa.
The house of Laurent-Perrier located in Tours-sur-Marne dates back to 1812 and today has an annual production of around 7 million bottles. The majority of their cuvées reflect a high percentage of Chardonnay, in fact almost double the average in Champagne and long lees ageing of a minimum of 4 years.
All Laurent-Perrier champagnes are suitable for vegans as no animal by-products are used in their production process. Often champagne is produced using fining agents such as egg whites, milk protein, and gelatin. The tricky part is determining which houses offer a vegan-friendly champagne as these ingredients are not always listed.
Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut is also available in a kosher format and in South Africa you can ask for it at Norman Goodfellows and certain Ultra Liquors stores. For a champagne to be classified as kosher, it may only be handled by observant Jews from the time the grapes are crushed to the time it is bottled.
So straight off the bat, let me tell you that I’m not going to use fancy terms, be over-descriptive or bog you down with technicalities. There are very highly qualified and experienced champagne reviewers and writers out there and as I mention in my bio, what I do is simply driven by my love of champagne, I have no qualifications in the field. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re on the wrong page. I try to remove a bit of the ‘snobbery’ that is so often associated with Champagne reviews, and like to keep things light-hearted and fun. And although I can appreciate the time and skill it requires to produce a certain cuvee, for me the main criteria in the end is whether I like a champagne, or not … simple as that.
Right, now that we’ve got that out the way … We started our tasting with Laurent-Perrier Brut non-vintage alongside its new expression, La Cuvée Brut, which has a slightly higher percentage of Chardonnay in the blend and is also aged for longer than its predecessor. La Cuvée’s composition is Chardonnay 50%+, Pinot Noir 30%+ and rounded out with Pinot Meunier of between 10-20%. Tasting notes suggest you should pick up hints of citrus and white flowers on the nose and peach and white fruits on the palate. As I have a definite affinity for champagnes high in Chardonnay, I absolutely loved La Cuvée. It’s what I like to call an ‘every day, every occasion’ champagne, a champagne you can drink first thing in the morning, or late at night, on its own, or paired with just about anything.
Next we tasted Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut n/v, and for anyone who loves champagne, but has excluded sugar from their diet, either for health or personal reasons, this is for you. Launched by Laurent-Perrier in 1981, Ultra Brut is a cuvée with no added sugar in the Brut Nature category. Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut is a cuvée in its own right, not simply Brut that has no sugar. A blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. This one will go perfectly with seafood and sushi.
But it wasn’t all tasting notes and serious business, we had lots of fun too. We ate, we drank, we laughed and giggled, we posed for silly photo’s, we spilt some champagne and we broke a few flutes.
We continued with Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle. And I have to tell you this cuvée really surprised me. It is a blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir and although it’s classified as a non-vintage, it is in fact a blend of 3 outstanding years declared as vintage years by Laurent-Perrier. It is then aged for 7-8 years on the lees. An intense and complex wine with aromas of candied fruits, fresh pastry and grilled almonds and pairings suggest refined dishes, especially seafood. If you have not yet tried Grand Siècle, you definitely need to treat yourself. I for one will be stocking up on a few bottles.
We ended off the evening with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, a 100% Pinot Noir champagne that gets its colour through maceration of between 48-72 hours. Although Pinot grapes are black, the pressed juice is white and there are 2 ways to produce a rosé champagne, either by maceration, also called the saignée method, where the white juice is left to macerate on the skins or by assemblage where a percentage of still red wine is added to the blend to get to the right shade for the house’s rosé expression. Timing is everything with maceration as the process needs to be stopped at exactly the right time to achieve the correct shade. Tasting notes indicate a precise nose of a wide range of red fruits; raspberry, redcurrant, strawberry, etc., which even I could pick up.
I was worried that Cuvée Rosé might be a bit Pinot heavy for my palate, but it paired perfectly with dessert and the tasting notes also suggest it will go exceptionally well with spicy Asian or Indian cuisine.
We had an incredible evening tasting through cuvées we might not normally be exposed to or choose off a shelf or wine list. My favourite of the evening was hands down Grand Siècle. In South Africa you will find Laurent-Perrier at all top-end national retailers like Norman Goodfellows, Ultra Liquors and Makro stores.
Pop, Fizz, Clink
The Champagne Chick