Charles Heidsieck recently announced the release of a limited edition Coteaux Champenois blancs range. The collection includes four different bottles of still wine produced from the grapes of four key Chardonnay crus that are typically blended together when making Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV champagne.
Coteaux Champenois (‘Champagne hillsides’) is the still wine appellation of Champagne. Releasing still wine is becoming more and more popular in the region (Bollinger and Louis Roederer also produce Coteaux Champenois wines, among others) as consumer interest in and understanding of the winemaking process continues to increase. Still wines offer a unique glimpse into the art of blending in Champagne and present an opportunity to taste a pure, ‘untouched’ expression of the region’s distinct terroirs.
Despite the challenges of the 2017 vintage, which was marked by frost and wet conditions, it was a Chardonnay year in which a number of parcels shined. Through careful selection, Charles Heidsieck discovered several high performing vineyards that produced wine with an elegance and concentration that belies the challenges of the year.
The four special crus that constitute the first Coteaux Champenois release are Villers-Marmery, Vertus, Oger and Montgueux. Vinified and aged in 3-4 year old oak barrels for 15 months and having undergone 100% malolactic fermentation, these wines have a textural richness characteristic of the non-vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne they would typically become.
Cellar Master Cyril Brun commented: “The Coteaux Champenois have existed ever since vines first appeared in the Champagne region and tasting them helps us to understand the identity of our champagnes. Before the bubbles appear all our wines are still, and it is from these wines that our intuition guides our choice of blends. While we were tasting the wines from 2017, four barrels in particular made an impression on me. The gems amongst wines, my very favourites, can now be shared with all oenophiles eager to experience a facet of my work as a blender.”
Charles Heidsieck aim to release a selection of Coteaux Champenois blancs each year, although the villages released will vary depending on the characteristics of each vintage. The Charles Heidsieck Coteaux Champenois 2017 collection is available to pre-order now for delivery from Wednesday 10th July 2019.
|Villers-Marmery 2017 | Premier Cru | TFB Score: 17.5+/20 | Jancis Robinson MW Score: 16.5/20
Villers-Marmery is a small commune where Chardonnay is an island in a sea of Pinot Noir. These Chardonnays differ from those of the Côte des Blancs, producing fine, clean wines with lemony notes. Lively and well-developed, they have refreshing acidity with long ageing potential.
Showing a lot of ripe and juicy fruit character, obvious lemon with pineapple, grapefruit and plum richness of the lees. Hint of spice from the barrel ageing works really well.
|Vertus 2017 | Premier Cru | TFB Score: 17.5/20 | Jancis Robinson MW Score: 16/20
With one of the largest areas under vine, the great diversity of wines from Vertus are due to the wide geographic location of the parcels. Pure with great mineralogy, the wines have citrus notes and a fresh, zesty character. The wine comes from the southern part of Vertus.
Very different to VM this is more peach fruit with apple, powerful, very refreshing and has a vegetal hint on the end.
|Oger 2017 | Grand Cru | TFB Score: 17/20 | Jancis Robinson MW Score: 16/20
Oger, in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, is the most atypical wine of the area, with great character, richness, strength and generosity. The wines are full-bodied and structured but lively.
A mix of different fruit, lots of bright lemon, pineapple and some tropical hints almost that spice and gewurztraminer character. Very intriguing hint of spice from the grape and smoke from the barrel works really well.
|Montgueux 2017 | Autre Cru | TFB Score: 17.5/20 | Jancis Robinson MW Score: 16.5/20
Montgueux is the most developed of the four crus. A village located on a limestone hill, it often opens the official grape harvest and produces ripe grapes with a tropical or yellow-fruit profile. The full-bodied roundness reminiscent of the Chardonnays of Burgundy.
Really quite powerful fruit, ripe lemon and loads of peaches and pineapple and guava and such a roundness to the rich lees-y texture.