Situated at the crossroads of the three main wine growing areas of the Marne département, the Montagne de Reims, is Cunard's champagne partner, the House of Champagne Laurent-Perrier. This famous House has been continuously innovating since its origination in 1812.


As an unrivalled creator of style and emotion, Champagne Laurent-Perrier is a natural partner for Cunard. Recognised internationally as one of the foremost names in the region, its success can be attributed to the challenging of conventional techniques, honouring traditional values and its respect for nature and terroir above all. Its innovative and comprehensive range of eight champagnes offers a unique experience for all senses.

Vine grapes plants growing in Piedmont region , northern Italy; Shutterstock ID 320898986; Invoice Number: -

Leading the charge in Champagne innovation

The de Nonancourt family took the reins of the House in 1939, boldly challenging the conventions of an industry where innovation was a hundred years behind it. First led by Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt, her son Bernard de Nonancourt took over following the Second World War, a time when the champagne industry was in decline and there had been no innovations in a century. However, he had a modern vision of its potential and imagined a style that was cleaner on the palate and easier to drink, a style you could enjoy on its own at any time.


To achieve his dreams, Bernard focused on a style dedicated to one grape, the rich and most refined: Chardonnay, which still injects such finesse and lightness into so many Laurent-Perrier champagnes.


Bernard also turned to fermentation, doing away with traditional wooden casks in favour of stainless steel tanks. These led to a fresher, purer taste – a champagne that was cleaner on the palate and always eminently drinkable. He also tried fermenting at lower temperatures and discovered he could conserve very special, subtle flavours that were usually lost.

Testing the notion that the top-of-the range champagnes, the “prestige cuvées”, had to be vintage, Bernard reasoned that no individual vintage could ever be complete, simply because you can never reasonably expect to find all the best characteristics of a champagne in a single year – however good that year might be. On the other hand, if you blended several great vintages, you had a chance to recreate the perfect year.


This insight opened the door to a new generation of exquisitely elegant champagnes – the finest of all being his most famous creation, Grand Siècle. “The best of the best with the best” as Bernard described it, Grand Siècle is an extraordinary blend of wines from only the top vintage years, made from the finest crus and grapes – a tour de force of the blender’s art that has few equals.


The de Nonancourt legacy is continued through the independence of this family-owned champagne house and its related values, taking the house from being one of hundreds to its current position as one of the region’s leading champagne houses. These same treasured principles guide the current management team, who are led by a strong line of pioneering women dedicated to the craft of champagne and proudly overseen by Marie Louise’s two granddaughters, Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt and Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt.

A bottle or Laurent-Perrier champagne on board Cunard's Queen Victoria.
Picture date: Thursday June 8, 2017.
Photograph by Christopher Ison ©

Taking sustainability efforts one sip further

As a grower and producer of fine champagne wines, Laurent-Perrier is committed to ending all practices or actions that may cause irreversible damage to the environment. This pledge lives and breathes daily at the House, showing a continual respect for the environment and finite natural resources.


The House’s long-term policy in grape growing and wine elaboration is based entirely on sustainable methods, through the careful management of resources such as water and energy, the balanced use of terroirs and soils and the reduction of waste at the source through recycling and recovery efforts.


Demonstrating the high value placed by the House on caring for nature, in 2022 Laurent-Perrier announced the launch of its limited-edition Cuvée Rosé Butterfly Robe to celebrate the environment and its efforts to protect it. The butterfly itself is emblematic of a preserved and protected natural environment, its presence an enduring testament to a vibrant and varied ecosystem; the fragility of life – a cause close to the House’s heart.


Taking its sustainability efforts further, Laurent-Perrier partnered with like-minded UK wild plant conservation charity, Plantlife, to become a Corporate Patron and support the great work Plantlife is doing to restore the threatened native flowers, plants and fungi that are the life support to all wildlife.


At a time when climate and sustainability action are at the forefront of concern, Laurent-Perrier continually showcases that it is no stranger to making sure it is leading the charge.

Crafting perfection

Queen Mary 2 chief sommelier, Dinesh Vijayan, outlines the process behind creating champagne.


As any Cunard guest will immediately appreciate when stepping into the Champagne Bar on board Queen Mary 2, champagne really matters to us. We want Cunard guests to enjoy it. Our Queens Grill guests can enjoy a complimentary bottle of Laurent-Perrier la Cuvée in their suites on arrival, while many enjoy our famous Laurent-Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea. The fine qualities and exquisite taste exactly match the values we treasure. But what does it take to create a fine champagne?

Dinesh was born in Chennai, and discovered a love for wine while working in Dubai. He completed his WSET intermediate and advanced levels before joining Queen Mary 2 in 2014, then completed his Court of Master Sommeliers in Sydney, Australia. Dinesh and his fellow Cunard sommeliers enjoy taking guests on a global exploration of different wine-making regions, and guiding them to choose wine that will best complement their choice of food.

The production of champagne starts between August and October with the harvest of the grapes, using machinery or by hand-picking. This is followed by a fermentation process, where the juice is placed in a stainless-steel tank and still wine is produced to convert the sugar and yeast into alcohol. The next step is the assemblage – blending. Still white wines are mixed with some reserve wines to create the base for the champagne: Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay are combined. A second fermentation takes place where a mixture of yeast, yeast nutrients and sugar (liqueur de tirage) is added to the wine, which is then placed in a thick glass bottle and sealed with a crown cap.


These bottles are placed in a cool cellar to ferment and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. As the fermentation proceeds, yeast cells die and after several months, the fermentation process is complete. The champagne continues to age in the cool cellar for several more years resulting in a toasty, yeasty character.


After the ageing process is complete, the dead yeast cells are removed through a process known as riddling. The champagne bottle is placed upside down in a holder at a 75-degree angle. Each day, the riddler gives the bottle 1/8th of a turn while keeping it upside down. This forces the dead yeast cells to float into the bottle neck. With the bottle upside down, the neck is frozen in an ice-salt bath. This results in the formation of a plug of frozen wine containing the dead yeast cells. Finally, the bottle cap is removed and the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas in the bottle forces the plug of frozen wine out (disgorgement), leaving behind clear champagne. This process results in a little bit of wine getting spilled out of the bottle.


Liqueur d’expédition (which is a mixture of still wine and sugar) is added to adjust the sweetness level of the wine and to top up the bottle. This procedure determines whether the champagne will be brut nature, extra brut, brut or doux.

A bride and groom enjoy a glass of champagne on the deck of a Cunard cruise ship

Article first published in Cunarder (Summer 2022 edition).

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