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100 Best Champagnes for 2011 -
FINE Champagne Magazine Selects the World’s Best Champagne – A Rare Winner
FINE Champagne Magazine, the only international publication devoted to champagne and a renowned industry authority, announces its list of the “100 Best Champagnes for 2011”.
During the year 2010 The magazine’s editorial team assessed over 1000 champagnes that are now available on the markets. After the semifinal, three-day blind-tasting of the top 200 champagnes, the panel selected 30 champagnes that were blind-tasted again in the finals in Reims, Champagne. In the tasting, the most important criteria were the quality of the wine and the champagne’s accessibility today. When the results were tabulated, the top ten included many familiar names but the unanimous first place winner was Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002.
“Rare was convincingly the winner of both our semi-final and finals. We have been impressed with the development in the quality of Piper-Heidsieck wines over the recent years and Rare’s performance was in line with that. Rare from the superb 2002 vintage is a phenomenal champagne; firm, vibrant, pure yet charming and layered. A prestige cuvée that would deserve to be much better known.” FINE Champagne Magazine editor Essi Avellan MW comments.
“Since 1976, the House has only released 8 vintages of Rare: 1976, 1979,1985, 1988, 1990, 1998 en Magnum, 1999 and 2002,” 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.”
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 prestigious, classical prestige cuvee from 2002 vintage – structured, full-bodied and bursting with fruit. Elaborated with a majority of Chardonnays from the Montagne de Reims region (70%) and complemented with Pinot Noir (30%) from the same region, this wine is a blend of 17 crus which matured for over seven years in the House’s cellars. A 2002 vintage synonymous with richness and generosity.
On the eye
Dazzling, crystal-clear, citrine yellow gold enlivened by a delicate, shimmering effervescence.
On the nose
The fruit emerges as delicate, golden, muted exotic fruits – mango and kiwifruit – and dried fruit – hazelnut, almond and fig. A touch of iodine enhances this wine’s flawless nose. The mild spices reflect the wine’s depth – white pepper, smoked tea and cocoa.
On the palate
A wine with depth but also honed, precise, in harmony. Voluptuous delicacy with meringue notes. Subtle nuances evoke distant lands – mint tea, lime, kumquat and exotic fruits such as pineapple and candied ginger.
A cold winter and a mild late spring cued for a perfect June allowing early and fast flowering. Outstanding weather conditions prevailed and the season went on without dramatic turns. Rains in August raised concerns regarding gray rot, but finally sunshine and dry conditions throughout September resulted in an abundant crop of largely healthy fruit (11,930 kg/ha). Dehydration due to wind further aided in achieving perfect ripeness and additional concentration. This, and the cool nights, helped in retaining fresh acidity and, despite the ripeness (10.3% potential alcohol), the wines did not suffer from heaviness or a lack of life. A near-perfect vintage, which produced balanced Champagnes consistently around the region. The best show an impeccable combination of freshness, power, structure and finesse. However, some have matured aromatically quicker than expected and are already past their peak. 2002 produced an abundance of spectacular champagnes, such as Dom Pérignon (the entire range), Krug Vintage and Clos du Mesnil, Piper-Heidsieck Rare, Louis Roederer Cristal and Cristal Rosé, Ruinart Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé, Salon Le Mesnil and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, to name a few.