On the 14th of October, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of Champagne Charles Heidsieck's latest release - Brut Millésime 2005, at Novikov, in London. The event was a bittersweet affair, coming less than a week after Charles Heidsieck's cellar master, Thierry Roset, passed away. Admiring his wines seemed a fitting send off for this quiet hero of Champagne.
Whilst the 2005 cuvée was the reason for the event, it was not the star attraction.
Brut Millésime 2005: Made in a difficult vintage due to rot in the vineyards, careful selection was necessary in 2005. This Champagne is a very good effort, though not at the same level as the 2000. It exhibits a racy, though not searing, attack, some nice richness due to the warmth of 2005, and nice length of finish. Aromas of red apples, lemons and mandarin abound, along with dried apricot and nougat.
Blanc Des Millénaires 1985: CH's 100% Chardonnay fizz is an aromatic belter. Fresher acidity than the 1983 version, it opens with smoke/flint aromas, along with brioche, nuts, lemon curd and beeswax. Bubbles are minuscule and the wine is drinking beautifully now.
Blanc Des Millénaires 1983: Not quite as open on the nose as expected, though the bouquet was delightful. Quite floral with Acacia, orange zest, dried fruits and wonderful acidity. A divine balance of primary and autolytic aromas, this wine belies it's age and whilst drinking well, will last a bit longer yet!
Champagne Charlie 1985: My notes show that I rated this particular "Prestige Cuvée" as my pick of the tasting. Wonderful ripe fruit nose with lemon, grapefruit curd, honey and Acacia. The mousse was soft and creamy with perfect acidity and stunning length. I consider this wine to be nearing it's peak, but not quite there.
Champagne Charlie 1981: Showing more age on the nose than the '85, I would drink this up now and enjoy every moment of it. Fairly deep gold in colour, the wine shows floral notes, dried peel, Pierre Fusil (gunpowder) aromas, some coffee and hazelnut. Acidity is still wonderful for an old girl like this - a complex and interesting wine.
Vintage 1983: A Pinot dominant blend, the wine has a slightly unusual nose. Some leafy/mossy notes. along with spice, smoke and some aniseed on the finish. This wine lacked the freshness of its older sibling, the '81, which is surprising given that we drank this wine from magnum.
Vintage 1981: Light gold in colour with aromas of apricot, truffle, toast and even a cocoa note. As with the Vintage 1983, there was an aniseed or fennel flavour on the finish.