Most Admired Champagne Brands 2017: 1-15

31 January, 2017


The work rehabilitating the Charles Heidsieck brand into the upper echelons of the champagne hierarchy continues apace and is reflected by its success with a top-10 finish in this and last year’s Most Admired voting. Good work by UK agents Liberty Wines is seeing it grace more restaurant lists in Britain and its discounting days are long since passed. When the Champagne Charlie monicker can be reactivated – no doubt there is a vintage in waiting in the Reims cellars – the next phase can begin in earnest, particularly in the US market where that name has particular resonance.

Head winemaker Cyril Brun, who took over at Heidsieck in February 2015, now has two vintages under his belt and is growing into a dream job in his own quiet, modest way. In December, looking to the future, we tasted some 2016 vins clairs together, with the Pinot Meuniers, only used in Charles Brut Réserve white and rosé, looking particularly good, while the Chardonnays lack their usual aggressive vivacity. “This year we will get the acidity from Pinot Noir,” Brun says, which we see in the intensely grapefruit-laced Verzy sample.

Then we looked back at the two current Brut Réserves, both based on the fine 2008 harvest, and as such typically with at least four more years’ bottle age than most competitive brands. Of the two I sense it will be the rosé that’s more likely to get a tweak or two in the short term, perhaps a little freshening. We finished with a gorgeously rich, toasty 1985 Blanc des Millénaires and I learned with some sadness that the very last batch of the current 1995 Blanc des Millénaires (made by the late, great Daniel Thibault) has just been released.

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