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L-P considers late-release cuvée concept

Laurent-Perrier’s bicentenary release of a recently-disgorged, late-release Grand Siècle called Les Reserves could mark the start of an oenothèque from the company.

Grand Siècles Les Reserves

As previously reported by the drinks business, the new prestige cuvée comes in magnums and jeroboams only, and contains a blend of ‘95, ’93 and ‘90 vintages which have been kept on their lees in Laurent-Perrier’s cellars.

While the magnums have been disgorged just over three months ago, the jeroboams will be disgorged to order by the Champagne house.

Speaking at a tasting yesterday of the new multi-vintage prestige cuvée, cellar master Michel Fauconnet said it was likely that Les Reserves was not a one-off.

Indeed, he said there would be more “Les Reserves” in the future, admitting that in essence, this was the beginning of an “oenothèque” – a special extended cellaring of Champagne on its lees for future late release.

Notably, Les Reserves comes with a metal tag featuring the cuvée number and, unlike Grand Siècle, information on the vintages used in the blend.

Fauconnet confirmed however that the policy on Les Reserves would not be extended to Grand Siècle, and hence the normal release of the prestige cuvée will not feature the base vintages – which is always a mix of three years.

“Grand Siècle will be business as usual,” said Fauconnet, referring to lack of information on base blends and disgorgement dates.

Every bottle of Grand Siècle Les Reserves comes with a coded tag

However, he added, “If we make a new Les Reserves, we will reveal the vintages.”

When asked why Laurent-Perrier had decided to communicate the base vintages in its special release, but not other multi-vintage blends, Fauconnet stated, “We did it because we have an exceptional wine in an exceptional format.”

Continuing he said, “It is a fitting tribute to our bicentenary, to Bernard de Nonancourt [who created of Grand Siècle in the 50s] and to all those asking us to reveal the vintages.”

Meanwhile, Laurent-Perrier has completed a new cellar for keeping the reserve wines for Grand Siècle.

Commissioned to commemorate the Champagne’s 200 years since its foundation in 1812, the new cellar contains 14 stainless steel tanks – each of which holds 110 hectolitres of wine, and are been specially designed to minimise oxygen ingression.

Fauconnet said the facility would allow him to age each grand cru base wine separately, allowing him to monitor the evolution of the different wines, and potentially discard crus from the Grand Siècle blend if they are maturing too quickly.

The first vintages to go into the tanks will be from the 2008 and 2007 harvests.

Laurent-Perrier’s new cellar for keeping reserve wines for Grand Siécle

Finally, Fauconnet stressed Laurent-Perrier’s aim to create wines with “elegance” and “freshness” and proved his point with a tasting of a recently-disgorged example of Grand Siècle’s first ever blend using the 55, 53 and 52 vintages – first unveiled in 1959.

Showing little colour evolution and a remarkable youthfulness, Fauconnet joked that although the Champagne was the same age as him, it was in much better condition.

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