New owners, new chef de cave (Thierry Roset), new bottle, new labels, new managing director, new Australian distribution (Robert Oatley Vineyards). Charles Heidsieck is in the process of being re-launched globally and barely a spot of chalk has been left unturned. Charles Heidsieck – formed in 1851 – is famous for having carried a disgorgement date on the label, though it disappeared for a time. It’s a key part of the affection some wine enthusiasts have for the 'Champagne Charlie' brand. The disgorgement date has returned – the bottle I am reviewing states 'Laid in chalk cellars in 2008' and then 'disgorged in 2012'. A bottling date would be even better but it’s an admirable inclusion to the label. Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Reserve is distinguished by its whopping 40 percent reserve material; this reserve material has an average age of 10 years. Needless to say the result is a rich Champagne style. Rich and sweet-ish but beautifully balanced. Luxurious style of NV Champagne. Generous and creamy soft; indeed texture is arguably its key feature. Combines freshness and developed intensity of flavour with aplomb. Apricots, toast, nuts. Sweet biscuit crust. Full bodied and fully aromatic. More about satisfaction than refreshment. An evening style, rather than lunch. Heady. 94 points, Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au.
Disgorged 2012. 60% 2007; 40% reserve wines; 60 crus; 3 years in the cellars; bottled 2008; 11g/l dosage. A medium-yellow colour and dried flower and autumn leaf notes reflect the maturity of a high proportion of reserve wines and long ageing on lees. A beautifully alluring Champagne of comfortable, soft, rounded generosity of honey, white peach and anise, freshened with well-balanced acidity. Lingering chalk minerality provides structure to gentle, caressing persistence. 94 points, Tyson Stelzer, Champagne Guide 2014-2015.
Located 150 km east of Paris, Champagne is the French wine region renowned for producing the finest, most rich and complex sparkling wines in the world. The elegance, longevity and racy acidity of these wines are attributed to the influence of the chalky soils of the region and the cool, marginal continental climate. The region spans an area of 35,000 ha and has 4 main growing areas, each favouring one of the three noble Champagne varieties; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne has a vineyard quality hierarchy based on the soils, aspect and overall quality of the grapes. Like Burgundy, these quality designations are allocated to the vineyards of the village. Of the 319 villages of Champagne, 17 have Grand Cru status and 44 villages are designated Premier Cru. All Champagne is produced by Traditional Method. The vast majority of Champagne is a blend of the three varieties and may also be a blend of several vintages producing the popular Non Vintage (NV) house styles. Top quality blends from exceptional years are sold as Vintage (Millésime) Champagne.