Michel Fauconnet

Cellar Master at Laurent Perrier


"I was born and raised in Champagne. I love champagne. It really is my favourite wine. I like it cool, with a fresh and elegant style." 




Michel Fauconnet first joined Laurent-Perrier in August 1973 doing work experience in the cellars after getting a certificate in agricultural engineering at the Agricultural College of Rethel (in the Ardennes region). He has acquired his experience on the ground.

His professional progress in production, where he knows all the jobs from doing them in the first place, led him to become Production Director and 'Chef de Cave', Laurent-Perrier’s Cellar Master, a position held since February 2004.

Michel Fauconnet climbed the ladder at Laurent-Perrier where he first worked as a manual worker from 1974 to 1976 before being promoted to technical staff in 1980. A year later, he received the accolade of 'Chef de Cercle' and was responsible for Laurent-Perrier’s winery and the fermentation process of all of Laurent-Perrier’s wines.

Michel Fauconnet took over from Alain Terrier, who retired after 30 years and to whom he was Executive Deputy. For more than 20 years and alongside Alain Terrier - a man who was good at training and loved to pass on his knowledge - they created pleasurable wines based on solid know-how and building strong relationships with grape-growers. At his side, Mr Fauconnet also assimilated his oenology knowledge and worked hand-in-hand with a closeknit team he has now made his own.

Michel Fauconnet has spent his entire working life at Laurent-Perrier and is dedicated to the company with whom he shares a passion for champagne and family values built on perfection and great expectation. Fond of sport and a football lover, he played at top level at the Stade de Reims. He is a thorough man with a strong personality who has won the respect of grape growers and the Champagne community.


Q & A

You have been at the House of Laurent-Perrier for over 40 years, how did you begin your career?

I joined Laurent-Perrier on August 28, 1973. I had sent a letter to the late Bernard de Nonancourt, asking for work-experience. I never left the House.


Describe the spirit of Laurent-Perrier and how it stands out from other Grand Marques?

Originally founded in 1812, the House of Laurent-Perrier is now recognised as one of the largest independent and family-owned champagne brands. It is the style and quality of our wines which enable Laurent-Perrier to stand out. We have supply of excellent Chardonnay grapes, backbone of Laurent-Perrier’s style.


Describe Laurent-Perrier vineyards and your unique relationships with the growers/suppliers you work with.

Laurent-Perrier owns 10% of its needs. Our vineyards are mainly located in the areas of the Côte des Blancs for Chardonnay, and the Montagne de Reims for Pinot Noir. We nurture our lasting relationships with wine growers. Some of our partners are from the third generation! It means the quality of our supply is consistent. We share the same respect for nature and traditional values.


We recently visited Laurent-Perrier and had the pleasure of going into the cellars. It was very impressive. Can you describe the cellars and the work that’s carried out there?

There are more than 9km (6 miles) of cellars, built in chalk (Champagne’s typical terroir stone) at the historical estate of Laurent-Perrier in Tours-sur-Marne. We have built an extension in 2008-2009 with new state-of-theart stainless steel tanks. And to mark our 200th anniversary, we unveiled a new winery, dedicated to our prestige cuvee Grand Siècle, last year. We have invested much effort into our vinification equipment and installations which are state of the art technology, whilst retaining our tradition and values.


Can you describe the Laurent-Perrier blending process, who is involved and when, where does it take place? 

Champagne is made by assemblage: the blending of different varietals under appellation (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, depending on the cuvées), coming from different crus (villages of growth). We systematically separate varietals and crus at time of harvest (no Chardonnay from Avize with Chardonnay from Oger, etc). It means that I have several hundreds of different ‘clear wines’ to taste. For each of our cuvées and according to each style, I must identify the wines before the final blend. It means projecting yourself four years ahead when the wine will be ready after ageing. It is the savoir-faire of the House. I am the final decision-maker but am working with a small team.


Grand Siècle is a blend of many different vintages and a very special cuvée – could you tell us more about this wine and the stages of its development?

In 1959, Bernard de Nonancourt launched Grand Siècle, his prestige cuvée, the quintessence of the art of blending. He concentrated on two essential components of traditional champagne savoir-faire. The careful blending of the greatest crus and of wines from three particularly outstanding harvests declared as vintage years by Laurent-Perrier. In a word: ‘The best of the best with the best’!


You were made Cellar Master in 2004 – over the lifetime of your career what have been your greatest moments in the job to date and who has influenced you most in your career? 

Working alongside Bernard de Nonancourt, and having his trust has been the highlight of my career. But I spent 30 years as deputy to the previous cellar master, Alain Terrier, who taught me everything. The period between 1975-1985 was a happy time. There were a lot of changes in practises and evolution in our job, particularly in the technique of maceration of Pinot Noir and extracting all its aromas for our Cuvée Rosé Laurent-Perrier. It was all very exciting.


What are your top three Champagne vintages of the last 50 years and why?

1995: Perfect balance between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, typical of Laurent-Perrier style for our blends. 1990: Atypical year, superb for its Chardonnay. 1976: Another atypical year with both quality and maturity, despite a small yield.


Finally, after a busy day when you put your feet up, what do you enjoy drinking?

I was born and raised in Champagne. I love champagne. It really is my favourite wine. I like it cool, with a fresh and elegant style. However, Bernard de Nonancourt also taught me to like the Grands Bordeaux. I have pleasure in drinking wines from St Julien.


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