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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.
A piercingly cold winter delayed the start of the growing season and was followed by a decidedly cool spring with some frosts in May. As a result, growth was subdued but initial flowering was good. The weather improved in June and July with nice sunshine and gentle heat creating excellent conditions for ripening. Despite rainfall during harvest, sugar and acidity levels remained high and disease pressure didn't mount too much of an assault, producing Champagnes of impressive character and length. On top of quality, great quantity was also achieved, with an average crop of 11,061 kg/ha being picked between October 3rd and 31st. The Chardonnays were particularly successful and high-yielding. Krug Clos du Mesnil is sheer perfection, going from strength to strength over the years. There are plenty of great Champagnes still in outstanding form. They include Krug Vintage, Louis Roederer Cristal, as well as Lanson Vintage Collection and Noble Cuvée.