On the Trail

Laurent Perrier's Rosé Excellence

Gary Westby

I visited Laurent Perrier this past spring and was greeted in their parking area by a peeing cherub who reminded me never to drink water. Good advice—that stuff will kill you! Wine is a much safer bet, especially when it's Champagne. We have been working closely with LP for nearly twenty years, and after tasting through their portfolio again on a recent visit, I'm happy to say their quality has never been better. They have 370 acres of estate vineyards and buy grapes from around the region to make up the delta of their 7.5 million bottle total production. Considering the scale of their operation, the quality is simply excellent. While I was there, I was able to visit the very small room (pictured below) that holds all of the wine for Grand Siècle, their tête de cuvée. While Roederer’s Cristal and Moet’s Dom Perignon are the second highest production wines for their respective houses, the Grand Siècle from Laurent Perrier is a tiny sliver of their production, proving the wine truly is a special occasion type of bottle—worthy of its loftier status.

More telling than visiting this tiny room was the one I didn’t get to visit: their new, secret, rosé-only facility! This separate winery is where they make the number one selling rose Champagne exclusively from Grand Cru pinot noir. Laurent Perrier makes this rose by maceration; keeping all of the skins in contact with all of the juice. This is an unforgiving process, and less than perfect skins on just a tiny proportion of the grapes will spoil the whole batch. Even with all perfect skins, macerating too long, even by a couple of hours, can make a tannic, rustic wine. On the other hand, if you macerate too little, you're left with pale blanc de noirs! On top of all that, the LP rosé is aged for four years on the lees before release and has great elegance and poise along with the refined flavor one would expect from all Grand Cru pinot.

The LP Rose has set the standard for rose Champagne for many years, and for good reason. As we just secured a great deal on a new shipment, it seemed like the perfect moment to remind people just how serious this wine is.

-Gary Westby