Reims, Champagne, France
With a long and varied history dating back to its beginnings in 1785, when it was created by Florens-Louis Heidsieck, Piper-Heidsieck is one of Champagne’s most well-known yet underestimated houses. From being a favourite of Marilyn Monroe (who claimed she liked a glass to wake up in the morning) to being the first ever bottle of Champagne to feature in a movie (the 1933 Laurel and Hardy film ‘Sons of the Desert’), it has long links to the world of cinema. In recent years, it has been the Champagne served at the Oscars.
Today, the house is owned by the same family as Charles Heidsieck, Rare Champagne, Biondi-Santi and Château La Verrerie, benefitting from the quality ethos that drives the continual investment in winemaking and vineyards from the Descours family.
Presided over by a roll call of Champagne’s most admired winemakers, the quality of the wines never fails to shine at international competitions – at the 2019 International Wine & Spirit Competition the 2012 Vintage was awarded the Vintage Champagne Trophy, while the 2019 International Wine Challenge saw the Non-Vintage Classic Blend Trophy awarded to the Essentiel Cuvée Réservée. The House’s winemakers have won Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the IWC more than any other house. Chef de Cave Émilien Boutillat is the current custodian, whose philosophy is simple: preserving the quality, elegance and generosity of style that has always characterised the Piper-Heidsieck wines.
The Cuvée Brut is the house’s benchmark wine, made from a blend of the three Champagne grapes, with 10-20% reserve wines, and aged for three years on the lees in the chalk cellars deep beneath Reims. It is elegant and balanced, punching well above its weight and representing astonishing quality and class. The Rosé Sauvage is a boldly gastronomic wine, made with an unusually large proportion of red wines (20-25% depending on the vintage base) giving it impressive structure and intensity. It eschews the trend for water-pale rosé and delivers plenty of concentration and personality.
The 2012 Vintage is made from primarily Grand and Premier Cru vineyards and is a blend of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir. An excellent example of a wonderful vintage, the wine has soft texture and intense floral, cherry and greengage notes mixed with a savoury salinity and a touch of spice.
The Essentiel wines are produced exclusively for independent merchants and the on-trade. The Essentiel Cuvée Réservée Extra Brut and the Essentiel Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut are made in limited quantities and for the table, with their low dosage (6 g/l and 4 g/l respectively) making them ideal for whetting the palate or serving with seafood.
Lastly, the Cuvée Sublime is one of Champagne’s best-loved Demi-Secs. With a dosage of 35 g/l and a bright bite of acidity, it shows exquisite balance and generosity, making an elegant partner for desserts or cheeses.