Working in the wine business has quite an allure to many. Even within the wine business, there is a pecking order. The best job in the world? Possibly selling and promoting champagne. Laurent-Perrier is one of the ‘grand marques’ or top champagne houses in the region. I had a quick chat with the very charming Arnaud Longuent, Export Manager for Laurent-Perrier champagne recently at Gleeson’s (incorporating Gilbeys) tasting. I probed a bit on his life and loves, and came up with the (very censored) version below. Who knows, it might come in handy just in case I ever have an interview for a job in champagne!
How long have you worked in the champagne business? 13 years
Earliest memory of champagne: My communion.
Did you drink champagne that day? Yes of course!
The Champagne region is very easy to get to now that the TGV travels through it. Where, off the beaten path, would you recommend people to visit? The Marne Valley – full of beautiful slopes. (Click here for more information on visiting Champagne).
Who do you most admire in the champagne business? Bernard de Nonancourt, founder of Laurent-Perrier. Sadly he passed away last year, aged 90. He was a great man; he embodied the Laurent-Perrier spirit and values, and had great humanity.
Your favourite wine from the range? Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut, with zero dosage; dry and minerally. I like it on its own, or as an aperitif, and especially in summer when it is hot it is very refreshing.
Your favourite food match with champagne? Oysters from Normandy, and Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut.
When you are not working, what do you enjoy? Playing tennis, drinking wine, reading books – a history of French gastronomy at the moment.
Outside Champagne, are there any wine regions which you enjoy? Tuscany is my favourite place. I also had a lovely holiday in the Douro valley.
What is the last bottle of wine you drank at home? Last Tuesday I drank a bottle of Magari, a wine made by Angelo Gaja in Tuscany. I had this with rabbit.
Most awful drink you’ve every tasted? Cynar – a bitter liqueur made from artichokes.
Ok, so I should have started in wine earlier. Other than that I think I fit the profile very well, I might need to re-consider my dislike of the taste of rabbit, which is very popular in Champagne. Sounds like lots of fizzy fun with very few bitter notes! Meanwhile, I’d better keep myself abreast of things with regular champagne tasting… where did I put that bottle of LP Ultra Brut…
Champagnes normally are topped up with a small ‘dosage’ of sweetened wine; this determines the level of dryness of the finished product. Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut is a non-vintage blend of equal parts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It has no dosage, and brings out the flavour of certain foods (sushi, shellfish) particularly well. It is available in specialist wine shops.