Grape Varietals: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir
Growing Region: Montagne de Reims, France
Chef de Cave: Régis Camus

This past July I spent an intensive month travelling through many of the wine regions in France. Starting in Bordeaux and ending a successful tour in Reims at the Champagne House of Piper & Charles Heidsieck. I have had the pleasure on more than a few occasions - and each time it’s like Christmas for adults - as you have this incredible excitement for what is going to be opened and the moment being shared with special people.

 

They say you should never meet your heroes - well I can say with complete honesty - meeting Régis Camus - arguably the greatest Champagne winemaker (confirmed by Régis being awarded the ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ 8 times) - is something special.
To finish a full day in their cellars, lunch with my good friend Cyril Brun - and going through both houses current and vintage wines. It was time to finish my 2016 Tour of France with a glass - and then a bottle, yes a bottle of the 2002 Vintage Piper ‘Rare’ Champagne.
The Piper-Heidsieck ‘Rare’ Vintage Brut is only made in the very best of years - and have to be considered perfect for what Regis calls “an extraordinary cuvée”. The 2002 ‘Rare’ is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims region. The carefully selected fruit parcels are sourced from 17 crus and after a traditional first fermentation, then the ‘vin-clair’ tasting, the wine is matured for over seven years in their cellars before being dressed and ready for release.
The first ‘Rare’ vintage was made in 1976 after an incredibly intense heatwave. Since then, there have only been seven more ‘Rare’ cuvées: 1979, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1998, 1999 and now the 2002. A classical prestige cuvee from the 2002 vintage - structured, full-bodied and bursting with fruit. This 2002 vintage will be remembered for its richness and generosity.
As you pour into a generously shaped flute or white wine glass you will be greeted by a dazzling, golden colour with a crystal shimmering effervescence. Aromas lift from the glass as delicate exotic fruits like mango, nashi pear and kiwifruit along with hazelnut, almond and fig notes. Also in the background like a soft summer breeze mild spices, white pepper, tea-leaves and cocoa reflects and prepares you for the wine’s depth of character.
The palate is generous with real depth and perfectly balanced, precise and in harmony. An incredible voluptuous delicacy engages your senses. Those aromatics of herbal tea, lime and exotic fruits such as pineapple and candied ginger plus nuances of honey, toast and subtle floral characters. All express themselves with perfect clarity as rich and vibrant flavours, resulting in a luscious complex Champagne, with controlled power and intensity. Perfectly aware of its abilities to beguile any sense you show to the wine, due to the pure quality of the fruit, and orchestral skills of Régis.
The wines delicate mousse results in an elegant silky mouth feel and with just the right amount of natural fruit acidity and a seamless mineral note on the incredible finish.
This 2002 Vintage Piper Heidsieck ‘Rare’ Brut Champagne has 12% Alc. Chill gently and serve in a generous shaped flute at 8-10°C. 

A Champagne experience which needs to be on your bucket-list.

CELLARING POTENTIAL:
Vibrant and ready to be enjoyed this season; and will age gracefully for another 6-8 years. 

FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
Perfect wine pairing with lobster, crayfish, stuffed crab, grilled oysters, well-seasoned shellfish, tempura coated seafood or vegetables and lemon meringue with fresh fruits - enjoy.