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GH Mumm chef de cave Laurent Fresnet dies aged 56

Champagne is left reeling at the news that Laurent Fresnet, chef de cave at GH Mumm, has died suddenly at the age of 56.

GH Mumm chef de cave Laurent Fresnet dies aged 56
Credit: Giles Fallowfield

One of the most experienced and talented cellar masters working in Champagne today, his wine making skills were widely admired and he had many friends across the appellation.

Fresnet joined GH Mumm in January 2020, after a 13-year stint at Champagne Henriot where he was appointed by the late Joseph Henriot, a shrewd judge of winemakers. In a distinguished career, Fresnet was twice awarded “Sparkling Winemaker of the Year” in the International Wine Challenge in 2015 and 2016. In late 2019 while in the process of moving to Mumm, he was appointed president of the Association of Champagne cellar masters succeeding his friend Hervé Deschamps, the former chef de cave at Mumm’s sister house Perrier-Jouët, who retired in 2020.

César Giron, President of Maison Mumm, said: “Acknowledged by all for his authenticity, his generosity, his kindness and his communicative energy, Laurent Fresnet was beloved by everyone. He brought to Mumm his passion for wine, his affection for the terroir and his vision of excellence.”

Born in Reims and growing up in the grand cru of Sillery, Fresnet came from a strong winemaking tradition with a close attachment to the top villages of the Montagne de Reims. His family have been making Champagne in Mailly for five generations, so his knowledge of this cru, Verzy and Verzenay, made him an ideal choice to take over the winemaking at Mumm, which has large vineyard holdings in these three villages.

Fresnet studied in Champagne at the research centre in Avize, and subsequently at the University of Reims, where he majored in oenology, biology and biochemistry. In his early winemaking career, he spent time in the vineyards of New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal and the south of France, before returning to Champagne in 1994. He worked with Delphine Cazals at her family business in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and then headed the La Vigneronne cooperative in Vertus before joining Henriot in 2006, moving to Mumm at the end of 2019 to fill the position vacated by Didier Mariotti the previous year.

I first met Laurent early in his time at Henriot, he was a gentle, modest and thoughtful man willing to share his considerable knowledge of Champagne and its vineyards, who was already making an impact at Mumm, where he will be immensely missed by the colleagues who worked closely with him.

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