Deep underneath Reims, the unofficial capital city of the Champagne region, an elaborate network of mythic galleries house the precious treasures for which the appellation is famous. Carved into the chalk more than two-thousand years ago, a labyrinth of immense Gallo-Roman chalk cellars, called ‘Crayères’, offer the perfect sanctuary in which to mature fine wines.
Reaching over 30m underground, the natural humidity and low temperatures of the Crayères shelter the champagnes from noise and daylight as they develop their inimitable complexity. The unique beauty of these underground cellars was officially endorsed in 2015, when the Champagne region was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
After founding his eponymous house in 1851, Charles-Camille ‘Champagne Charlie’ Heidsieck decided against buying up vineyard land and instead invested in Crayères. Since then, these cellars have seen thousands of bottles produced over the years, coddling and sheltering them as they develop and mature until ready for release.
Last year, Charles Heidsieck announced their exciting plans to annually release a treasured collection of old vintages, stored under perfect conditions in the underground cellars. The 2017 release included an exceptional selection of bottles and magnums, and cuvées no longer in production, such as Cuvée Royale and Champagne Charlie.
“Releasing these treasures from our cellars is an extraordinary thing to do. The Collection Crayères is an exercise in balance – to enable wine lovers to obtain such rare bottles while ensuring a minimum are available for future generations” – Stephen Leroux, Director of Charles Heidsieck
The 2018 Collection Crayères release, which has just been revealed by the house, is a celebration of Chardonnay. Charles Heidsieck first presented their Blanc des Millénaires cuvée in 1993, with the release of the prestigious 1983 vintage. Since then, they have unveiled just four further vintages: 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2004. The Collection Crayères Blanc des Millénaires Vertical incorporates each of the Blanc des Millénaires vintages and an extremely rare vintage of Blanc de Blancs 1982, which was produced as a test for the Blanc des Millénaires concept. Just 60 bottles of Blanc de Blancs 1982 have been released, which can only be purchased as part of the Blanc des Millénaires Vertical.
A limited number of the Blanc des Millénaires range can be purchased as individual bottles. The latest Collection Crayères release also includes two further 100% Chardonnay creations: Blanc de Blancs 1981 and Blanc de Blancs 1979.
This Chardonnay focused edition of Collection Crayères pays homage to the enduring relationship between Charles Heidsieck and the Chardonnay grape. The first 100% Chardonnay blend that the house can accurately date goes back to 1949, and historical cuvées include the 1906 Charles Heidsieck Le Mesnil, from the famous Chardonnay region of the Côte des Blancs.
“This Collection Crayères is our tribute to almost a century of crafting Chardonnay and showcases the House’s exceptional ‘savoir-faire’ when it comes to blending this delicate varietal” – Cyril Brun, Charles Heidsieck Chef de Cave
Charles Heidsieck’s expertise in creating, blending and cultivating the Chardonnay grape is widely acknowledged. The extraordinary 2018 Collection Crayères release offers a rare opportunity to witness how this expertise has unfolded over time, under the guarantee of perfect provenance.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires Vertical – £2,750.00
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1990 – £395.00
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1985 – £495.00
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1983 – £525.00
Blanc de Blancs 1981 – £625.00
Blanc de Blancs 1979 – £695.00
Available to pre-order for delivery in mid-November. Just 20 cases of the Blanc des Millénaires Vertical have been released in the UK.
|Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004 | 18.5/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: November 2016 | Dosage: 9 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 2 Years
Beautiful rich ripe apple and cinnamon flavour with some of that creamy caramel starting to come through. A hint of custard and spice. Light and bright on the palate. The delicacy is key, texture is good and rich with a nice mineral character.
|Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 | 19/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 21 Years | Disgorged: Summer 2017 | Dosage: 12.2 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Super fresh nose and incredibly fresh palate with oodles of acidity. A butteryness that goes on and on and a sweet spiciness like home-baked biscuits. The very long lees ageing has kept this old champagne super fresh.
|Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1990 | 18/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 8 Years | Disgorged: 1999 | Dosage: 10 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 19 Years
Great ‘liquid gold’ colour. Very Burgundy – a 1990 characteristic. Mature nose: mushroom and tertiary notes. Seems like quite light acidity but fully comlex. Bit of a nuttiness festival with plums and lovely length. Slightly dry finish as juiceness from fruit goes to secondary flavours.
|Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1985 | 17/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 10 Years | Disgorged: Summer 1996 | Dosage: 10 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 22 Years
Mushroom was the signature of the year. This has such freshness and zing. A real toasty character with citrus and orange peel notes. Lovely earthy personality.
|Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1983 | 19/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 10 Years | Disgorged: Summer 1994 | Dosage: 10 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 24 Years
Beautiful balance and fresh acidity. Packed full of life still, with lots of citrus and apple flavour. Has a perfect balance, you really can’t fault this. Acidity, balance of fruit, all seems perfect.
|Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs 1982
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 8 Years | Disgorged: 1991 | Dosage: 10 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 27 Years