By Celia Strong
The holidays are all about sharing and giving, and we have a perfect solution this week, because our featured wine is a party for two. With this gift pack featuring a great Champagne and two flutes, whether you choose to give it as a gift, share it with a friend, or keep it all to yourself, a good time will be had by all.
Laurent Perrier is a Champagne house that was founded in 1812, by former cooper (barrel maker) and bottler Alphonse Pierlot. Pierlot bought two parcels of vineyards in the Champagne region and willed them to his cellar master, Eugene Laurent. Eugene and his wife, Mathilde Emilie Perrier ran the company until he died in 1887. Mathilde took over, added her name to the company (duh!), and Veuve Laurent-Perrier was born. (“Veuve” is the French word for “widow” and prominent in the world of Champagnes.)
Like other widows in this region, Mathilde ran the company with great success, though her success was diminished by the start of World War I. After the war, she hired a new marketing director who started building a market for Laurent-Perrier in England. Mathilde died in 1925, leaving the company to her daughter, Eugénie Hortense Laurent. Setbacks from both the first World War, and the approaching second World War made it difficult for Eugénie, and in 1939 she sold to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt. The new owner ran the company, having invested all money in the company, while her two sons joined the French Resistance. (At one point during the war, she mortgaged 100,000 cases of her Champagne that were hidden in a wall.) In 1945, the youngest and surviving son, Bernard, started learning every aspect of their Champagne business. In 1948, he became president and CEO of the house. His passion for Champagne helped his company grow, establish relationships with top quality growers and develop the L-P style of freshness, lightness and elegance. Today, the majority owner of Laurent-Perrier is still the de Nonancourt family.
La Cuvée is the name of L-P’s non-vintage Champagne. This wine was 15 years in its development. A brut Champagne with a majority of Chardonnay in its blend was rare. Then and even today. The 15 years were spent making sure they had quality supplies of Chardonnay grapes as well as mastering their blending skills and finalizing their house style. The finished wine is over 50 percent Chardonnay, with over 30 percent Pinot Noir and 10 to 20 percent Pinot Meunier. Every batch uses up to 20-30 percent reserve wines (wines from previous harvests that are stored in their cellars). More than 100 vineyards are sourced for the grapes for this Champagne.
The finished Champagne is pale gold in color. Its nose is both delicate and complex with lemon zest and citrus notes, and white fruits like peaches, apples and quince. Its flavors are fresh and easy, and echo these aromas and add in honeysuckle and slight toasty notes. The texture is creamy and the bubbles are persistent. Always a pleasing and easy drinking Champagne.
And the party pack? This great wine comes in a gift box with two flutes, wrapped up with a ribbon and ready for whatever choice you make for it.
A bottle by itself with no flutes is $44.99, but the gift set is $40.99. At least that decision is easy. Enjoy!
Celia Strong works at Billís Liquor & Fine Wines on Ladyís Island.