These articles are a collection of my experiences and the rich history of one week spent visiting the 16 Grandes Marques houses of Champagne. In this second part, I will take you on a journey to Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Krug, Champagne Lanson, and Champagne Laurent-Perrier, sharing not only the historical background of each house but also my personal encounters and the wines that left a lasting impression.
In the heart of Reims lies the iconic Veuve Clicquot, synonymous with the Clicquot Widow and the vibrant yellow label that can be spotted from a distance. The story began in 1772 when Phillip Clicquot, a banker and textile merchant, decided to commercialize his wines from Bouzy and Verzenay. Tragedy struck in 1805 when Phillip's son, Francois, passed away, leaving his widow, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, at the helm. The widow Clicquot spent the next forty years shaping the estate into one of Champagne's most significant. Today, under the guidance of chef de cave Dominique Demarville, Veuve Clicquot continues to refine its practices, standing tall as one of the world's most recognizable champagne brands.
My evening at Veuve Clicquot's Hotel du Marc in Reims was a sensory delight. Winemaker Lison Blanchemanche guided us through a tasting extravaganza, featuring the exquisite Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut, Extra Old, and magnums of the 2002 vintage. The historic house, built in 1840 and rejuvenated by LVMH in 2007 under the oversight of renowned architect Bruno Moinard. Moinard's blend of classical and contemporary elements preserved the historic charm of the building, accentuated by artwork from modern creatives like Hervé Van der Straeten, Yayoi Kusama, the Campana brothers, Mathieu Lehanneur, and Pablo Reinosot. The garden, adorned with stunning art pieces, featured a delightful photobooth, accompanied by an evening of delectable and elegant canapés that added a touch of luxury and happiness to the experience. As night fell, the garden came alive with the warm glow of fire-lit tables, creating a romantic and enjoyable atmosphere that we absolutely loved.
Veuve Clicquot's devotion to Pinot Noir is evident, with the Roses standing out as truly remarkable. For your daily Chic Drink: Vintage Rose - a blend with red wine from Bouzy, offering bold flavors and gamey, spicy complexity. For Special Occasions: Prestige Cuvee La Grande Dame - a subtle, delicate, and elegant expression of Pinot Noir.
Check the highlights ‘Champagne part 1’ and ‘Champagne part 2’.
Founded in 1843 by Joseph Krug, this distinguished house in Reims has earned its reputation as one of Champagne's best. Krug exclusively produces prestige cuvees, and their meticulous approach to blending resembles the orchestration of a symphony. Every parcel is vinified separately, allowing for a diverse collection of base wines. The brilliance in blending is a hallmark of Krug, creating a complex and sophisticated style of champagne.
My Krug experience transcended the ordinary. The Krug Music Experience, guided by Hospitality Manager Stephane Gross, remains etched as one of the most profound moments in my wine journey. A unique pairing of music and tasting unfolded, where each grape that composes Krug Champagne was harmonized with a piece of music. Krug's cellar master acts as the conductor, bringing together different components to create a harmonious symphony. The emotional depth of this experience was unparalleled.
To conclude our immersive journey with Krug, Olivier Krug, a 6th-generation family member, warmly welcomed us with glasses poured from a Magnum of Krug, 161eme edition. He shared the captivating story of Krug, emphasizing its unique qualities. This delightful prelude set the stage for an extraordinary lunch experience that followed. Renowned 3 Michelin star chef Arnaud Lallement, chef and proprietor of L'Assiette Champenoise, curated a five-course masterpiece expertly paired with Krug wines. The menu featured standout dishes, with the exceptional Pigeon pie accompanied by foie gras standing out as a divine highlight, perfectly complemented by the Jeroboam Krug Rosse 19eme edition and the iconic Lemon. Each year, the House of Krug pays tribute to a humble Single Ingredient, inviting renowned Krug Ambassade Chefs to create food pairings for the latest Édition of Krug Grande Cuvée and Krug Rosé. In 2023, the first fruit to be elected Single Ingredient was the vibrant citrus called lemon, and there's even a whole book about it!
Daily Chic Consumption and Special Occasions: Krug Grande Cuvee - a complex blend of up to two hundred base wines, a true luxury that justifies every penny.
Established in 1760, Champagne Lanson proudly holds a rich history marked by resilience and enduring success. Chef de cave Hervé Dantan continues to shape the house's distinctive style, prioritizing a no-malolactic fermentation approach to produce wines that are refreshingly enduring.
Our visit to Lanson in Verzenay unfolded as a delightful masterclass. Celine Voide, head of Hospitality, Marine Kanengieser, and Alastair Harwood guided us through the latest releases, including the delightful Blanc de Blancs 2004.
The surprise of the day came when, in celebration of a friend's birthday, Lanson opened a magnum of the 1979 vintage, leaving us all in awe. The freshness and beauty of a champagne with such age were a testament to Lanson's remarkable evolution. An interesting revelation during the masterclass was their Le Green Label Organic, a champagne created from a single vineyard cultivated organically and biodynamically.
For your daily indulgence, the Lanson Black Label Brut, with its lovely biscuity notes, is a great value. For a special occasion, a magnum of vintage, left to cellar, promises an awe-inspiring experience.
Founded in 1812, Laurent-Perrier is renowned for finesse and its emphasis on Chardonnay in its house style. Laurent-Perrier's success is attributed to Mathilde Emilie Perrier, who took over after her husband's death in 1887. Sold to the de Nonancourt family in 1939, Bernard de Nonancourt led the house to success post-World War II until his death in 2010, shaping Laurent-Perrier's modern image.
During our enlightening visit to the Champagne Academy course, we were graciously hosted by Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt, the fourth generation at Champagne Laurent-Perrier. Our exploration took us to the headquarters, where we embarked on a captivating tour of the 'Les Plaisances' vineyard. Situated in a Grand Cru village at the intersection of the three main vineyards, on plots known as Les Plaisances and La Tour Glorieux, this is where Maison Laurent‑Perrier found its roots.Lucie shared insights into the heritage and unique qualities of the maison within this special area, known for its Chardonnay plantings. Following the vineyard tour, Lucie guided us through a delightful tasting of Laurent Perrier's latest releases, encompassing the house cuvée, the exquisite vintage 2012, and the superb Grand Siècle. The purity and excellence of these champagnes left a lasting impression, showcasing the mastery of Maison Laurent-Perrier.
To add a touch of extravagance to the day, Maison Laurent-Perrier prepared a superb lunch, all pink-themed, flowing with their delicious and iconic magnums of Cuvee Rose. The food, a perfect summer indulgence, paired flawlessly with the deep pink glasses of champagne. The food, a perfect blend of freshness and luxury, resembled a chic picnic surrounded by flowers and deep pink champagne glasses. Once again, their rose proved to be delightful, brimming with berry flavors. It was an idyllic summer lunch.
Daily Chic Drinking: Laurent Perrier Rose - created in 1968, a delightful blend of Pinot Noir.
Special Occasions: Grand Siecle Iteration 25 - a rare and delicious prestige cuvee blended from 11 Grand Crus.