Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve (2016 base)

Brut Réserve has been evolving over the last five years. Lees-ageing is down from the heights of 6 or 7 years to around 3 for current releases. From 2016 onwards 5-7% of old oak is in use too; something that appears to go hand-in-hand.

2016 base (mise en cave 2017), disgorged 2020. (I wish they’d give a month by the way). I believe this is still 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier with an addition of 46% reserve wine.

On popping the cork I was surprised by some roasted spices – a little oxidative flourish almost. This blew off and the heart of the wine came through, although it took a little while to open.

Roast apples and apricot pasties, a very sweet golden profile of mango lifted up with pepper and toasted almonds. The oak is there with a supporting line of sweet, buttery citrus-oil and vanilla richness, and there are some touches of licorice and something peppery that I love.

It is a bit jumpy, especially on day one. Day two is a different story – the texture has really settled. There is bristling, youthful energy and a fine kind of grippiness to it in comparison to the luscious, limpid creaminess of previous bottlings, but the balance and internal build feels as flawless as ever. 

 It’s still one of the first I’d pick off the shelf, and one of Champagne’s essential purchases. 17 (could be 17.5 with more bottle age)

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Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004, Champagne

The top wine in the range for now (the 2006 is the current release). Blanc de Blancs from Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize, Cramant and Vertus. At the time this was only the fifth release since 1983. Its predecessor, the wonderful 1995, was made in such large quantities that we didn’t get a 1998 or a 2002. Shame..

You need to leave this wine for a little while after opening. When it starts to go, it really goes – beautifully fresh, with pineapple pastries, lemon cream and this slightly exotic jasmine/orange blossom character over sweet mango. If it sounds extroverted it really isn’t – the ‘white’ is still in front of the ‘golden’ in terms of flavour for now, although the aromas all sit on a very pleasing cushion of crème-pâtissière richness.

What I love is how this headiness is delivered with such calmness and coolness in shape and texture. Beautiful precision and true, delicate chalkiness building to a delicate play of grapefruity bitterness and developing nougatty warmth. Oh, and the mousse is so measured, like smooth satin. The insistence and drama of headline vintages like 2002 or 2008 is not really the story – it reinforces my idea of 2004 as having a quieter, politer sort of finesse. 18

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Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve

2010 base. 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier. 40% reserve wine addition. Disgorged in 2017.

In a very tasty place. Golden fruit very much on song, with rich apricot pastries, mango and yellow apple. Chardonnay lemon oil runs through, offering a nice little kick in the tail. Posh salted butter richness too, with maturity coming on now in dried pineapple and toasty coffee beans. The palate is quite front-loaded, a friendly hug of a champagne, plush but with a gentle, slightly soft-focus kind of energy. I don’t think it will the longest-lived CH, at least not in 75cl, but it has life ahead of it yet! Great stuff. 17.5

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004

This is so alive, actively and relentlessly throwing out pure lemon zest, toasty brazil and fine oatmeal sweetness with spots of honey round the edges. I put ‘sweet crustaceans’ in my notes, which sounds a bit crazy. Beautiful ginger biscuit developing, but this still feels so young. It is a fine laser beam to the Blanc De Blancs NV’s chandelier. Brilliant.

18.5

Date Tasted : 12/07/2019

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires Collection Crayères 1985

1985 was a small, intense year in Champagne. This wine, disgorged in 1999 and sourced, like all Collection Crayéres wines, directly from Charles Heidsieck’s cellars, shows all that magical Chardonnay development you would hope for; dried peach and apricot, shifting into mango and coffee, then marmalade and gingerbread warmth. It isn’t dried out or over-caramelised at all; quite the opposite, there is a beautiful freshness and precision on the palate. A fine example of just how well the Charles style does with age.

18

Date Tasted : 12/07/2019

Charles Heidsieck Collection Crayères 1983

This was quite a bottle – jumps up with intense lime curd, toast and sourdough, with ripe notes of honeyed mango and apricot frangipane tart. A real sense of togetherness and richness, with superb length. This bottle has aged magnificently.

19

Date Tasted : 24/09/2018

Charles Heidsieck Vintage 2005

Meaty, toasty lemon curd, with vanilla and cream. Ripe candied citrus too, and a lovely, textured almond sweetness on the palate. Punchy

17

Date Tasted : 24/09/2018