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News

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Releases "La Collection Crayèrs": an Oenothèque Program for the Ages

For the first time ever, an extensive collection of rare vintage Champagnes from Charles Heidsieck will be released directly from their oenothèque under the “La Collection Crayères” program. The House’s chalk cellars in historic Reims hold the prestigious library collection, where they have been stored since being bottled, and 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the purchase of the unique Gallo-Roman cellars.

At a time when most Champagne houses were investing in their own vineyards, Charles-Camille Heidsieck made the bold move of foregoing his own land and instead turned his focus on perfectly aging his wines. Purchased in 1867 by Heidsieck, the 47 chalk cellars, or crayères, date back to the 2nd century and provide the optimal atmosphere for long-term aging of the House’s prestigious Champagnes. Located close to 100 feet below ground, they hold several million bottles that age a minimum of four years, and, for the La Collection Crayères bottlings, up to 40 years. As of 2015, the cellars have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Stephen Leroux, Executive Director for the House of Charles Heidsieck, explains, “Opening our oenothèque to the public is a passionate and powerful act. We want to enable wine lovers to obtain these bottles and have unforgettable experiences; it echoes the House philosophy. What’s more, distributing such rare bottles in a responsible manner whilst ensuring a minimum are available for future generations, is an exercise in balance.

This first-ever offering from the prestigious La Collection Crayères will include five incredible cuvées: 1985 Rose Millésime (SRP $399); 1983 Brut Millésime in magnum (SRP $799); 1985 Champagne Charlie (SRP $449); 1982 Champagne Charlie in magnum (SRP $1,200); and 1981 Cuvée Royale (SRP $799).

Wines from La Collection Crayères will also be offered at auction by Christie’s on December 9th, 2017 in New York. Highlights of the sale include the much celebrated “Champagne Charlie” special cuvées from the 1980s; the House’s highly awarded Blanc des Millénaires Blanc de Blancs, with vintages dating back to 1983; jeroboams of the 1989 Brut Millésime; vintage Rosé back from 1985; and a number of bottles of the historic Cuvée Royale from the 1981 vintage.

La Collection Crayères Champagnes will be available in extremely limited quantities at the beginning of December at select fine wine outlets through the House’s national importer, Folio Fine Wine Partners.

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History

In 1851, a 29 year-old Charles tempts fate and founds a champagne house that is a true reflection of his character.

‘The vineyards must remain in the hands of the growers and their expertise’. Charles chooses to leave the vineyards in the hands of those who know them best, nurturing their talent, their knowledge and their respect for the terroir.

A pragmatist, he decides to concentrate on producing and ageing wine, and purchases forty-seven Chalk cellars dating from the 11th century. This labyrinth of underground alcoves and galleries offers ideal conditions for ageing and enhancing his wines. His intuition will be rewarded.

Driven by confidence and instinct, Charles ensures his wine reflects his personality, going so far as to give it his first name. This decision causes quite a stir in Champagne.

However, it is not enough for this cosmopolitan creator… he craves a wider audience for his exceptional wines – the world awaits.

 

In 1852, trusting his intuition, Charles leaves for America, the promised land still untouched by the champagne trade. If there is to be champagne in America, it will be his and no other.

A charismatic dandy, popular with the powerful and the press. An undeniable icon, perceived as an ambassador for champagne and France, Charles seduces New York society and its business bourgeoisie. Furthermore, he wins over the South, including wild Louisiana. He becomes known as ‘Champagne Charlie’.

On returning to Europe, he turns his attention first to Belgium and then England. Lauded and decorated at the Universal Exhibitions, his labels soon start to sparkle in all the royal courts. If Europe and the United States have succumbed to the charm of his fine bubbles, a greater conquest still awaits. Having gained territorial control, he must now conquer time and continue to produce exceptional wines year after year, century after century! A challenge for which he is more than a match.

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Vineyards

In line with Champagne tradition, the House owns and cultivates some sixty hectares, divided between the Marne and Aube departments. Long-term contracts with winegrowers and cooperatives in Champagne complete its requirements for supplies. A responsibility for the House, which is in charge of making the best of the grapes harvested. Pride for the winegrower who participates in producing a wine appreciated on the very best tables throughout the world.

A constant focus on conserving the lands and practices that protect the ecosystem has led to recognition of the House vineyards for its sustainable viticulture. It has also been certified as of certified as to be of High Environmental Value. 

Comprising 123 points, this programme is both demanding and complete, going from soil and vineyard nutrition, maintenance of the soil and management of the vines to waste management.

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Winemaking

Each wine has its own personality, its own affirmed and generous character.

Freshness and elegance from the Chardonnay. Structure from the Pinot Noir. A generous helping of fruit from the Pinot Meunier.
While the decision to blend equal proportions of the year’s varietals is a strong commitment, to harmonise them demands an exceptional savoir-faire.

With a wealth of secrets passed on by Daniel Thibault, star cellar master of Champagne, Thierry Roset, Cellar Master, has been cultivating this art for a long time for the benefit of Charles Heidsieck.

Thierry Roset creates delicious harmonies with aplomb, using the notes obtained from vinification in separate vats. He plays with this delicate balance between complexity, depth and texture.

To attain and maintain excellence requires constant vigilance. Charles understood this and we continue to ensure that this balance is maintained. A perfect blend resulting from our decision-making at every stage of production – decisions always informed by the pursuit of excellence, rather than convention.

The Brut Réserve, our iconic cuvée, comprises the three champagne varietals in equal measure, taken from 60 carefully selected crus. The very essence of Champagne in a bottle. The 40% reserve wines used in the blend are on average 10 years old. Once bottled, the wine is aged for a minimum of three years in chalk cellars, or ‘crayéres’. An exceptional ageing process for an extraordinary wine.

And since the reserve wines develop with time, Charles Heidsieck lets them express themselves, carefully following their progress as they evolve in silent, dimly-lit chalk cellars.

Depth and texture. These key words take on their full meaning as we vinify cru by cru, varietal by varietal. The demand for refinement is apparent at each stage.

Whereas the Appellation stipulates a minimum 15-month ageing period, Charles Heidsieck ages its non-vintage champagnes for at least three years. Stored in a maze of forty-seven chalk cellars, they lie in galleries twenty metres underground where the temperature remains a constant 10%. A peaceful haven, ideal for ageing gracefully.

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Inside information

Throughout his travels, Charles Heidsieck embodied contemporary French glamour. With his distinguished charm and knack for business, he captivated America, becoming a prominent figure of fashionable society in just a few months. Thanks to his easy-going nature, elegance and breeding, Charles focused on making a name for himself and for his champagne. JOURNALISTS FOLLOWED HIS EVERY MOVE while American high society fought to invite him... and his champagne. The Americans dubbed him “Champagne Charlie”, a nickname soon popularized by a song. 

YEARS LATER, The House decided to create a Champagne Charlie cuvée in tribute to the audacity of its founder. 5 vintages exist: 1979, 1981 1982, 1983 and 1985. 

In addition to the quality of these wines, no longer available, the powerful heritage of the cuvée has assured the Charles Heidsieck legend.

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13 different wines with 98 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Essi Avellan MW , Wine Writer (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  50 wines 

Champagne Magazine's 100 Best Champagnes 2021 -tasting day II.

15d 11h ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  40 wines 

The hard work of assessing hundreds of champagnes for The 100 Best Champagnes 2021 has started! First tasting session behind. Great champagnes with very consistent quality.

1m 13d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  40 wines 

Champagne Magazine's The 100 Best Champagnes 2021 Day 1 -


6 more days to go.

1m 18d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  30 wines 

Tastingbook's weekly Pro-tasting with wines from 1970-2019

3m 7d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  11 wines 

The true luxury champagne is the one that captures your full attention and makes you step off the treadmill to take a meditative moment with the champagne. The richness of its taste is limitless. Each sip peels new layeres of flavours and the aftertaste feels like neverending. Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1986 and Dom Ruinart Rosé 1979 were excellent examples of luxury champagnes at their best. Dom Pérignon 2008 and Krug Grande Cuvée 167 Edition will be there one day, and I believe with even bigger trigger.

8m 15h ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  4 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  72 wines 

Champagne Magazines 100 Best Champagnes 2020 -tasting day III.

8m 11d ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  12 wines 

Pommery Louise Extra Brut 2004 – Pommery has used the same base wine for both the Nature and the Extra Brut Louise, possibly a little curious as presumably the base wine would work better as one or the other? Still, the final verdict will depend on what is in the bottle and it does seem that both have succeeded, though for me, the Extra Brut is even better than the Nature.


A blend of around two-thirds Chardonnay from Cramant and Avize and one-third Pinot Noir from Ay (the blend is typically more like 60/40). Fifty-one different plots have contributed; dosage is around 5 grams/liter, and the wine spent more than a decade on lees, building complexity. Immediate oyster shell notes, citrus, lemon, and a hint of grapefruit, but also gentle notes in the background of vanilla, toast, and honey. Supple, lovely texture but the palate fills out (in a slightly superior way to the Nature for me). Fantastic length. 97. Just a brilliant champagne.

8m 30d ago

 Jancis Robinson MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Pol Roger Vintage Champagne 1996 / From magnums served at a 21st birthday party for a wine merchant's daughter called, appropriately enough, Polly. Absolutely sublime. By now fully mature – cast off its youthful acidity – and a very broad, satisfying wine without being in any way heavy. Bone dry and with some putty and breadiness but also great breadth and length. This was a great vintage when it worked (even if some wines never  had enough fruit density to throw off their high charge of acidity) and it really showcases great champagne with magnum age. I have not tasted this wine from bottle recently. 19p

10m 5d ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  8 wines 

Chateau Rayas 1989 – Legendary wine and this showed exactly why. For me, the wine of the day. Over the years, I have marginally preferred the 1990, but it has always been so close and today, this was utterly seductive and enticing. Truly stunning wine. Complex, fragrant, elegant and yet powerful. So supple and textured. Black cherries, cloves, earth notes all combined. Such length. I found this absolutely glorious (as did almost everyone), though our friend with his preference for young Burgundy was not convinced, declaring that in Burgundian terms, this was an okay Premier Cru at best. Wine, being such a subjective topic, means that every opinion should be given equal respect – even when it is completely wrong, as it is here. 100.

1y 1m ago

 Dirk Niepoort / Niepoort, Wine Maker (Portugal)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Champagne Magazines The 100 Best Champagne 2020 -tasting!

1y 2m ago

 Richard Juhlin , Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Charles Heidsieck . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Moet & Chandon vintage 2012 / A stylish and very promising vintage where elegance and finesse are stronger keywords than power and concentration. Chardonnay dominates the overall impression at the launch as the Pinot grapes work more as a structural moderator in the first years. Delicate polished buttery and spring floral notes dance beautifully over the tongue in a lovely youthful harmony.

1y 2m ago

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