Piper-Heidsieck is the most popular of the 3 well-known Heidsieck Champagne houses. The House began as Heidsieck & Co in 1785 which was split into two companies by bickering descendants in 1838 – One continuing and evolving into Piper-Heidsieck, the other into Heidsieck & Monopole. A third house: Charles Heidsieck, came to be in 1851 by virtue of another descendant of the Heidsieck Clan (naturally named Charles), and this is a sister brand to Piper as both were acquired by EPI group in 2012.
Today, we are trying Piper’s Brut Essentiel Cuvée; an extra-brut (extra dry) variation that has 4 years on lees (fermenting yeast) for a different flavour profile. It is crafted by chef-de-cave Regis Camus.
Essentiel Cuvée is priced at almost twice that of regular Piper Brut NV, and not too far off it’s vintages.
An interesting item about the labelling is that the wines vintage and disgorgement dates are provided on each bottle. In this instance we are trying a 2011 vintage (tough year) with a 2015 disgorgement.
So, how can this fresh, four year aged champagne compete against the other 4 years stalwarts (Bollinger, Pol Roger and Laurent Perrier La Cuvée) in this price range?
From: Reims, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: $75 a bottle available from Dan Murphy’s
Blend Ratio: Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier: (50/30/20)
Aging: 4 Years
Disgorged: 2015 likely
Sipped: December 2018
In The Glass:
Look: Piper sits in the glass with a strong golden hue. It gives off a very nice set of mid sized bubbles.
Smell: Yeasty on nose. Sweet fruit fragrance. Ripe peach and raisins. Apple cider like.
Taste: Maybe it was the base vintage that I had (2011 – not the greatest champagne year), but in this instance the tasting group and I felt a little underwhelmed by this one.
As an extra-dry champagne, it does come across clean and well executed with little sweetness. It has a more delicate balance with citrus (lemon sorbet) and peach notes. It finishes a little bitter and tart on the middle of the tongue, but not offensively so. It will go great with seafood.
The main consensus in the group was that the intensity of the flavour lacked strength in its punch; it kind of felt watered down; hence the delicacy. This is odd for a 4 year aged champagne.
Very easy to get down – you could pretty much skol it if you please, but the flavour is not very memorable; hence the score.
Party Potential: An extra-dry champagne for a soirée is typically a no-no unless it is specifically executed to match the food, and in this instance seafood is easily the best match for this champagne. I would use this champagne at a small dinner party when you have seafood as the entrée or opener.
As a Gift: Piper’s a well known brand with a good perception of quality, so it makes a good informal present.
At Home: Use for a small gathering of good friends to open a small dinner catch-up. Plays well with a quickly knocked up seafood platter before you cart out the main course!
Score & Verdict:
At $75 I feel it is average value for the quality
How did I drink it?:
Closing out the daylight of a hot summers day with my crew. Cheeseboard and meats in hand.
How did you drink it?
And how did you find it? Let me know!
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