CHAMPAGNE SI STERS
As a young girl, most aspects of champagne for Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt were fascinating, from the growing of the grapes, to the role of the cellar-master and the bottling and labeling process. All, in fact, except the taste
“At the beginning I was not very fond of drinking champagne,” she says. And as such, Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt had not thought about joining her family business, LaurentPerrier. Instead, she studied interior design at the prestigious Camondo School in Paris, and then went into perfume, ending up as head of perfume creation at Paco Rabanne. But there was something about the synthetic nature of the scents of the perfume industry that would eventually drive her back to champagne.
“You could lie to your nose because you could create synthetic aromatic things and it’s not natural anymore,” she says. The feeling might be like smelling a rose but those aromas were artificially crafted.
“I grew up in a little village in the countryside and I wanted to go back to nature because with nature, nothing lies. You face what nature gives you and you have to adapt to what nature gives you and that is a connection that I love, and that’s why I took the decision to go back to Laurent-Perrier.”
It was 1987 when Pereyre de Nonancourt returned to join Laurent-Perrier. Although she had grown up surrounded by the champagne-making process, it was not innate, and she found herself learning everything from scratch. But that was no hardship given the enthusiasm and passion within the company.
However, it would not always be plain sailing at the house of Laurent-Perrier, and the greatest challenge that she had to face was when, in 2010, her father Bernard de Nonancourt, the magnetic, larger-thanlife figurehead of the brand, passed away.
De Nonancourt had long been the heart and soul of Laurent-Perrier and the man who built the business from a small champagne house into one of the leading global brands of today. CEO since 1948, although he had semi-retired in 2005, de Nonancourt had remained Honorary President of the house’s supervisory board and his many relationships had transcended his stepping back from the business.
When de Nonancourt passed away, the company was left in the hands of his daughters, Preyere de Nonancourt and her sister Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt, who had joined Laurent-Perrier in 1995. “We had to face everything together and to fight together,” says Preyere de Nonancourt.
The sisters were next in a line of strong women at Laurent-Perrier, which began with Mathilde Emilie Perrier, who kept the champagne house alive following the death of her husband Eugene Laurent, a cellar master who had inherited the 1812-founded house from the founder’s son. She was followed by Marie-Louise de Nonancourt, who purchased the business in 1939. The sisters would prove worthy successors to these impressive women.
“When he died we lost the founder, and I lost my father, but we also lost somebody who was so charismatic that it was very difficult for the team,” says Pereyre de Nonancourt. “But that is where my sister and I had to help the team face the situation. It’s not because the founder died that we were dying too. Laurent-Perrier is very strong, and was strong enough to continue, and we had to believe in the future and create a future together.”
In 2012, Laurent-Perrier marked its bicentenary with a series of celebratory events, the release of Grand Siècle Les Réserves and the opening of a new cellar for the Grand Siècle reserve wines. “This permitted us to pay tribute to our past and to him and to be very proud of our past, but also to face the future with the idea to fight and restructure our energy to create a dynamism for the future,” says Pereyre de Nonancourt.
“It helped to give our team the feeling that everything is going to continue through the wine.”
Since the bicentenary, the brand has continued to look to the future. “We have invested a lot in craftsmanship, in vinification technology to be able to improve our quality,” says Pereyre de Nonancourt.
In 2017, after more than a decade of development, Laurent-Perrier launched their La Cuvée – an improvement that met the challenge of evolving the brand’s flagship without losing its distinctive style of freshness, finesse and elegance. Every bottle also remains a reflection of the know-how and expertise that the brand has always embodied.
“We know how much our father did to this company to create this know-how, and we believe that we have to continue this. Laurent Perrier is a school: a school of ethics with nature, of giving good things, of perfection, of excellence.”
Laurent-Perrier is also about progress. “It is the entrepreneurial spirit, the sense of innovation that gives a sense of our family values. When you know why you are waking up every morning – because you defend something you believe in – it creates something different to deliver to people.”
LIFE IS ROSY Alexandra Rosé was first launched in 1987, based on a 1982 vintage, by Bernard de Nonancourt to celebrate Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt’s wedding day