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When Charles Heidsieck was born in 1822, his uncle, who married into the Piper family was running the Champagne House Piper-Heidsieck. Charles grew up in the vineyards and gained experience at his uncle's business, but his ambitious winemaking philosophy led him to found his own Champagne house in Reims in 1851. He was so proud of his Champagne that he called it after himself and Charles Heidsieck Champagne was born.
A year later, having found success in Europe, Charles took the brave decision to travel over the water to the USA to sell his wares. Here he was one of the first to introduce Champagne successfully to the Country. His vivacious personality gave him notoriety and popularity and he famously became known as 'Champagne Charlie'. An eventful few years were had in America, including being imprisoned in Louisiana on suspicion of being a spy during the Civil War. He was eventually freed by President Lincoln himself and then returned to settle in Champagne.
Unlike his peers Charles viewed himself as a blender and not a grower, he spent most of his money investing in 47 underground chalk cellars dating back to the 11th century instead of land. He began buying grapes from trusted grower families with the expertise going back generations in perfecting the care of their vines. The company now has 60 separate sites to choose from, encompassing a variety of different crus, and some of these plots are cultivated by the fourth or fifth generation of the same family.
Charles Heidsieck is a hand-crafted champagne. The intricacies of its complex make-up have been perfected over the years by one of the most celebrated winemaking teams in Champagne. Between three winemakers they have been awarded Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge, while no other house has won more than twice.
The flagship Cuvée, Brut Réserve, is the house's masterpiece. Many years in the making, the wine is a blend of 60 of the best vineyards, and harvests going back more than 15 years. It is aged in the house's Roman chalk cellars under Reims. They provide an ideal place to age the wine, having a unique combination of constant temperature, high humidity levels, no sound, light or vibration to disturb the wines. The non-vintage Champagne is made with painstaking attention to detail. 60 per cent of the blend is wine vinified that year (using an equal split of the three main Champagne grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and the remaining 40 per cent is a blend of reserve wines - a mixture of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ranging from between five and 20 years old. There are over 400 to choose from, more than most other Champagne houses. Once the team has decided on the blend, the wine is aged for typically six years on its lees which adds a richness and complexity unrivalled in any other non-vintage Champagne.
Since 2011, the company has been owned by the Descours family - a very positive move, ensuring the company remains family run with a long-term vision for the future. Just recently in early 2015 Cyril Brun took over as cellar master, having been Chef de Cave for many years at Veuve Clicquot.