Tag: Charles Heidsieck

A short tasting of Charles Heidsieck

This is part two of two on Charles Heidsieck and the art of sabrage. Read part one here.

Charles Heidsieck tasting

If sabrage is your way of introduction to the Champagnes of Charles Heidsieck, then you’re already off to a good start. Even better if your bottle isn’t adulterated by glass shards.

I have to admit, I’ve tried Charles Heidsieck before. It was at a trade tasting in January this year and I remember being very impressed with it. Digging out my old tasting notes now, I realised that I’ve come to almost the exact same conclusions – the 1999 Rosé Millésimé was a firm favourite. But more on that later.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV First up was the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV. For a non-vintage, it is incredibly rich in flavours owing to the fact that 40% of the blend is made up of reserve wines with an average age of 10 years. With equal measures of fruit and nut characteristics, it makes for a complex starter.
Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV When I originally tasted the Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV, I wasn’t a fan. Whilst there was plenty of fruit on the palate, complemented by a soft mousse, it just wasn’t a stand out wine. Fast forward a little, my second tasting showed a wine with much more development. The evolution in this particular bottle helped it to become something much more complex.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésimé 2000 The Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésimé 2000 fared equally well between the two tastings. The toasty intensity was very forthcoming but there was also honey and autumn fruits followed by a crisp, dry finish. The wine has developed well in the 10-plus years of ageing and, while it can go on for some more, I’d really prefer to enjoy it as it is.
Charles Heidsieck Rosé Millésimé 1999 In comparison, it was immediately obvious the Charles Heidsieck Rosé Millésimé 1999 should be aged for much longer. As it is, the meaty and bold Champagne is stunning. Then (in the January tasting), as now, it was a favourite despite my aversion to rosé wines. Right now, it’s displaying an unrivalled intensity of fruit with undertones of toasted smokiness. There was obviously development in the wine but it still had an incredible amount of freshness.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 The final vintage was the Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995. With almost 20 years in the bottle, it was showing quite a lot of age. It’s confidently nutty with fading fruit. I’m not a fan of Blanc de Blancs as a rule so this exceptional vintage doesn’t quite do it for me, especially following the Rosé Millésime 1999.

This selection reminded me how bubbles can do incredible things to your preference for wine. Rosé Champagne I can fall in love with but Blanc de Blancs I just don’t get on with. And yet in the world of still wines, it’s just the opposite. My nose is turned up at the rosés on offer while I seem to find Chardonnay irresistibly alluring in all its forms.

In any case, this is a seriously fine collection of Champagnes to discover and re-discover.

Charles Heidsieck hosted a tasting and dinner. Amateur Wine was a guest at the event. You can find out more in our Editorial Policy.

How to sabrage according to WineChap’s Tom Harrow

This is part one of two on Charles Heidsieck and the art of sabrage. Read part two here.

As party tricks go, sabrage is pretty awesome.

In layman’s (or woman) terms, it’s playing with swords whilst under the influence of alcohol, only the amount of alcohol available for consumption is drastically reduced if the sabrage goes awry. Nothing like the promise of danger to get the party started it seems.

But there’s definitely nothing better than a round of sabrage before getting to know Charles Heidsieck.

According to legends, Charles Heidsieck was the original Champagne Charlie who inspired George Leybourne’s song (Langham Hotels worldwide toasts Champagne Charlie daily at 19.05). It was he who broke away from the Heidsieck & co family name and put his own stamp, or rather, his own name, on the Champagnes. And it was he who was credited with introducing America to Champagne.

Not quite the inventor of sabrage but quite the maverick nevertheless. So you see why sabrage is the perfect introduction to proceedings.

Tom Harrow sabrage

The introduction was made by Tom Harrow of WineChap who had hosted various sabrage events.

Apparently bottle shape, temperature, vintage and the style of wine will all affect the success of sabrage. The key is finding a sturdy bottle (for safety reasons) that’s well chilled (reducing spillage) and encloses sparkling wine with pressure of around seven bars. In this case, a bottle of Charles Heidsieck (or a practice bottle of Cava for the less experienced).

Every bottle has a fault line which is found about 2cm below the cork on one side of the bottle in the form of a slight dent. You’ll probably need to remove some of the label at the neck to find it but you will definitely need to remove all of the label in order to successfully sabrage.

The fault line is where you need to take aim, but don’t fire just quite yet.

Remove the wire cage around the cork and aim away from people and other things you don’t want to damage in the unlikely event that you have a bottle that’s holding back a lot more than the seven bars.

Take your sabrage weapon (be it a sword, spoon or even ipad) and tease it along the neck, flat against the shape of the bottle, and across the fault line. When you’re comfortable, follow through with your tease, but don’t lift your weapon at the last minute. The cork and annulus should slip cleanly off with ease. That is, the rim of the bottle is the only part that’s taken off with the cork – you’re not hacking off the neck here!

Anyway, after you pop your cork, it’s time to enjoy some Champagne. Do use a decanter or some other intermediary device if you think your sabrage skills might not have had the desired effects on the content of your bottle.

Charles Heidsieck hosted a tasting and dinner. Amateur Wine was a guest at the event. You can find out more in our Editorial Policy.

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