With so many Champagne houses around today, it can be hard to know where to turn to for a consistently exquisite offering. Of course, there are big names in the industry that dominate, but there are some lesser-known brands that have been producing some delightful vintages for years, and one of these is Piper-Heidsieck with its cuvee, Rare Champagne.
With origins dating to 1885, and the centenary of the celebration of the presentation of the first bottle of the prestigious Cuvee of Piper-Heidsieck to Queen Marie-Antoinette, it was only in 2018 that the decision was made to reveal Rare Champagne as a stand-alone brand.
With only 12 vintages having been created in the last four decades, Rare Champagne is just that – rare – and with its unique blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as its notable infinite freshness and purity, this is a bottle you will certainly want in your cellar.
With each vintage being declared in limited series, Rare Champagne combines three essential parameters; a truly atypical year, ageing on lees under prime conditions of at least eight years on lees and finally, the expertise of cellar master, Régis Camus, who comments: “Rare Champagne tames nature and exalts the unique, bold or spectacular character of a year. This gives birth to an atypical champagne, majestic and racy.” Camus has been regularly recognised by the prestigious International Wine Challenge, who have awarded him the title of Sparkling Winemaker of the Year no less than eight times since 2004. He joined Piper-Heidsieck 26 years ago but retired as cellar master for the portfolio to concentrate on Rare Champagne in 2018.
Boasting 70% Chardonnay from Montagne de Reims; Viller-Marmery, Trepail, Vaudemange and from Côte des Blancs; Avize, Chouilly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with the remaining 30% Pinot Noir, Verzy, Verzenay, Aÿ, it’s a tipple to cherish. Vintage years for the impressive Rare Millésime are 1976, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2008 and, more recently, the Rare Rose Millésime 2007 and 2008, ensuring only the most exceptional of vintages are produced, often from testing natural conditions.
So, what can one expect from a sampling of this exquisite offering? The style possesses a silky texture for starters with subtle contrasts, endless freshness and a long-lasting minerality, and more specifically, the Rare Millésime 2006 blends the exotic and fresh with warmth and maturity.
This multi-award-winning vintage enjoyed thirteen years of cellaring and has matured to express vibrant aromas, offering a generous honeyed and oriental nose. Expressing fragrances of cocoa, coffee, tropical fruits, crisp mango, white chocolate, quince and cinnamon-flavoured jelly with aromas of dried apricot and pink peony, the iridescent yellow-green gold champagne is one to savour.
On the palate, expect to encounter mocha, sweet spices, dried apricot and vanilla, among others, with crisp honey pastry and pepper flavours coming through as it warms in the glass. If you’re looking for a prime food pairing then grenadine of veal with langoustines, green asparagus and warm potato espuma would provide the ultimate pairing.
If you’re looking to savour the elegance of the bottle before diving straight in, then there is no doubt that Rare Champagne will look utterly inviting stored in any cellar. The intricate, gold detailing stands out upon the dark bottle with a gold interior on the otherwise black box making the Champagne truly stand out. Rare Millésime 2006 is best consumed within the next 10 years, but we’ll see if you wait that long.