The holidays are coming up and what better way to celebrate than popping open a nice bottle of champagne ? Right, there’s always whisky but I’ll leave that conversation for another time. For now let’s talk bubbles.
Thanks to Francine from Oona we we’re lucky enough to be invited to enjoy a private tour of the Charles Heidsieck cellars and vineyards in Reims, France.
On the first day we took a lovely oldtimer to Verzenay to learn more about the vineyards. Besides the majestic view, even with the gloomy weather, we learned about the different aspects of growing the grapes. All of the vineyards are situated on deep chalk soils which absorb heat and sun during the day and give it back at night. To get better grapes the vineyards get topped so they grow evenly. Certain laws dictate which of the three permitted grapes may be planted where, trial and error over time has shown the wine growers the grape types best suited for each zone of production depending on the variations of slope and aspect of the hills.
That night we had a lush dinner at Le Jardin, as you do in France, with an exquisite bottle of Brut Charles Heidsieck Champagne.
The next day we went to go visit their cellars which you can only visit by appointment. It was so exciting to walk through the gate because we knew that there were hundreds of bottles asleep under our feet and we were about to meet them face to face. This is the best condition to store their wines because it takes a long time for them to mature. The minimum wait for champagne is 15 months but at Charles Heidsieck they prefer to wait and sell less champagne for a better quality. No need to rush an excellent product.
They also discovered that one of the passageways in the cellars was similar to a bottle of champagne, only with a larger body and a very thin neck. This was the inspiration for their new and improved bottles.
After the wonderful tour, we sat down for a little tasting. At 11am most people might think this is too soon but it is actually the best time for a tasting since you are a bit hungry but your taste palete is still cleansed.
We started off with the Brut Réserve, it is quite complex and it has a distinct taste because they use about 40% of reserve wines and 1/3 of each of the grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay). It is not even a bit acidic so it goes down very smooth. You should also keep in mind not to cool your Champagne too much, about 6 to 8 degrees is enough otherwise it breaks the flavour. Take note of the size of the bubbles when drinking Champagne, when they are too big it means the wine is too young and not nice enough.
Next up was the Rosé Réserve, similar to the Brut but with more fruity flavours and a bit of a spicy punch including tastes of ginger and cinnamon with a dry, discrete and elegant aroma.
Last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure to taste the Charles Heidsieck Vintage 2005. This wine has a lot of body and complexity with spicy and sultry notes. They also only use Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for this Champagne because Pinot Meunier ages too fast.
To end our lovely visit we ended up at Le Foch for the most exquisite meal I have ever had. If you ever have the chance, please do visit this restaurant and ofcourse order a bottle of Charles during your meal.
Hopefully I’ve left you mouth-watering and looking forward to the holidays with your very own bottle of Champagne ! Check out the list below to find out where you can purchase a bottle in your area.
love & cheers, l.
Huis Verloo en Lelièvre (Antwerpen stad)
Appellation Contrôlée (Kapellen)
De Vidts (St Niklaas)
Van Eccelpoel (Herentals)
Le New Cellier (Ukkel)
De Wit (Overijse)
Carpe Uvam (Huizingen)
Caves St Amand
Van den Bussche en zonen
Brut and Wine (Luik)