||At the start of the 19th century , a young Flemish man, Jean-Baptiste Ackerman, was well aware of the reputation of the wines from the Val de Loire. In 1810 this rich banker’s son left Antwerp and arrived in Champagne where he explored the hills and valleys of this chalky region and began to learn all the secrets of the famous drink concocted in the 17th century by the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon.
The following year, armed with his knowledge, he left for the Val de Loire and arrived in Saumur on horseback. At the time the region was riddled with 1,000 kilometres of underground galleries. He decided to acquire about 7 kilometres of the finest, some of them 8 metres wide and 5 metres high and ”able to take more than six thousand barrels of wine”.
The young man had noticed that in these ancient, cool limestone quarries the white wines of the region had a tendency to sparkle naturally and that the caves along the banks of the Loire combined the optimum conditions to produce Saumur Brut. And so he became the founder in Saumur of the ”methode traditionnelle”. For forty years he was the only producer of this Val de Loire wine with fine bubbles. As soon as he arrived in the Saumur area he had got to know the daughter of a rich banker - Mademoiselle Laurance - and shortly afterwards he married her. Thus was born the Maison Ackerman Laurance.
In 1838 the tasting committee, examining the wines presented at the Angers Industrial Exhibition, enthused about the quality of the wines produced by Jean Ackerman, mentioning ”their clarity, their white, lively, sparkling foam”.
The jury, persuaded that it was possible to produce wines around Saumur that were as elegant as those from Champagne, unanimously awarded a gold medal to Jean Ackerman and so encouraged several other local entrepreneurs to take up the life he had made possible. In 1845, Jean Ackerman actively participated in the development of the railway towards the west, championing the project of a Paris-Rennes line, in order to run a branch to Angers; in 1849 this bore fruit, with a Paris-Saumur line. And so, starting in the 1870s , his son Louis, an experienced traveller, encouraged the export of his famous wine to the whole of Europe, and particularly England, Russia, Sweden, Germany and Belgium. These countries were followed, before the end of the 19th century, by the whole world. Around 1890, Ackerman undertook a vast promotional campaign aimed at the English-speaking world and contributed in his own way to the creation of a highly regarded artistic and advertising iconography. In 1893, Ackerman Laurance was accused of unfair advertising by the federation of Champagne houses. The complaint: the reference on labels and posters to ”Champagne de Saumur”, whereas according to the decree of 1845 the name Champagne was reserved for wines made from grapes harvested exclusively in Champagne. Despite this setback, sales of Saumur Brut continued to conquer the world. In the twenties, new offices were built in Saint-Hilaire with a beautiful slender facade in the local limestone crowned by an elegant central pediment. In 1936, when the classification system was set up, Saumur Brut was granted AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) status.
In 1956, Ackerman Laurance decided to unite its destiny with the Remy Pannier group to form the leading producer of Val de Loire wines and the one by which the others are judged.
The Maison De Neuville was also founded in Saint Hilaire Saint Florent in 1856. Its know-how was quick to become known (thanks in particular to support from Mr Jules Benjamin Coquebert de Neuville, a native of the region of Champagne who then introduced the same methods as those used in Champagne). De Neuville joined Remy Pannier in 1977 and continues in the group Ackerman - Remy Pannier to demonstrate its know-how in selecting the best Lore wines. This trade name is now proposed by our House in the traditional circuits and to prescribers.