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The noble origin of Rare Champagne dates back to a tribute to Marie-Antoinette and expresses its revolutionary spirit fight against the trivialisation of vintages.
Over the last forty years, Rare Champagne has only declared eleven vintages, the most demanding in Champagne, all in limited production.
“Since 1976, the House has only released 8 vintages of Rare: 1976, 1979,1985, 1988, 1990, 1998 en Magnum, 1999, 2002 and now 2006,” says Régis Camus, chef de caves and chief winemaker at Maison Piper-Heidsieck. “Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 was my first Rare vintage so I am particularly honoured to hear that it has been selected as the number one champagne in the world by FINE Champagne Magazine.”
Each Rare Millésime is born from the struggle with nature. For instance, Rare Millésime 1976 was created after an exceptional drought, Rare Millésime 1985 following a terrible black frost.
As the guardian of the Rare Champagne style, Régis Camus the most awarded Cellar Master of the century*, selects the vineyards according to their expression rather than their rank in the scale of Premiers and Grand Crus. This uncommon blending approach contributes to the complex, distinguished, and yet pure style of Rare Champagne.
In honour of the occasion, Pierre-Karl Fabergé, jeweller to the Czar Alexander III, designed a spectacular enamelled bottle. Unfortunately, it was impossible to reproduce this decor with the techniques of the time. A label with a faithful reproduction of the design was therefore placed on the bottles of this exclusive edition.
In the 18th century, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented his very first prestige Cuvée, ‘worthy of a Queen’, to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, in a characteristically aristocratic bottle: the Pinte Majeure. In those days, glass blowers made by hand the most precious bottles of Champagne, intended for the aristocracy. Thus, the asymmetrical shoulders of the bottle emphasize its singular personality. Rare Champagne modernized the original shape and added a golden lacy crown that asserts the radiance of the wine. Black and gold, it truly contains a charismatic gem. Black symbolizes the dominant Pinot Noir grapes while gold represents the luminous shine of Chardonnay. Thanks to its long elegant neck, a unique whisper rises while serving. Today, the soft curves of the design pay tribute to Marie-Antoinette, the first modern icon, famous for her ability to set new standards.
As a pioneer of dialogue with the art world, the PIPER-HEIDSIECK Maison has contributed greatly to enriching the world of champagne. With the aim of expressing the precious character of its wines, it seeks to adorn its bottles with sumptuous finery. What could be better than jewellery to express the raw gold inside? In 1885, to celebrate one century of its existence, Jacques-Charles Kunkelmann commissioned Pierre-Karl Fabergé, jeweler to Alexander III, Tsar of Russia, to design a bottle in diamonds, gold and lapis-lazuli. One hundred years later, the PIPER-HEIDSIECK Maison celebrated its bicentenary with a new creation: a bottle set with diamonds and gold by Van Cleef & Arpels, inspired by the original Fabergé design. It was valued at over one million francs at the time and travelled all over the world handcuffed to armed officers! The encounter with creativity continues via fruitful collaborations. The most daring creators are invited to shake up the established order, with always the same demand for prestige.
In 2012, in tribute to its exceptional history, Rare was wrapped in a 64g 18-carat gold tiara created by Arthus-Bertrand. The bottle set with its tiara was sublimated in a glass display thus revealing an exceptional giftbox. Only 10 such pieces were produced for the world. This jewellery masterpiece elegantly draped a magnum of the Rare Vintage 1998 and was showcased for the 160th anniversary of the first department store in the world – Le Bon Marché, in Paris.
This sunny and hot drought year with record heat levels across Europe led to a very early harvest, which began on September 1st. Large yields (averaging 10,359 kg/ha) of super ripe fruit produced rich and powerful champagnes, although relatively low in acidity (averaging 7.2 g/l). The acidity levels made some winemakers doubt the wines' longevity but this has since been proven wrong by a multitude of majestic 1976 Champagnes defying time. The style is unashamedly ripe, big and even fatty with plush fruitiness. By no means ‘classic' in style but nevertheless great and a forefather to the warm vintages we are experiencing now. Bollinger R.D. 1976 from magnum for example, is something to behold. Other magnificent cuvées include Philipponnat Clos des Goisses, Dom Pérignon Brut and P3, Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque, Piper-Heidsieck Rare and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne.