Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie (Cellared in 2017) Brut Champagne
After a break of 37 years, the legendary Champagne Charlie from Charles Heidsieck has returned for what is now its sixth iteration. Originally crafted by cellarmaster Daniel Thibault in the late 1970's, the previous releases of Champagne Charlie have become legendary bottles among Champagne aficionados. When current Chef de Cave Cyril Brun undertook to recreate Champagne Charlie for the next generation, he clearly understood the importance of the task at hand. Upon revisiting each of the previous releases, and through reviewing the archive of notes pertaining to these wines, he discovered that while noted as a vintage wine each actually contained anywhere from 5% to over 30% reserve wines. This revelation unlocked one of the mysteries to the depth and complexity shown in the prior releases, and Cyril has leveraged the tremendous reserves available for this release. Starting with a base of 20% Pinot Noir from the 2016 vintage, this is supplemented with 72% reserve wine dating back to 1998, with 35% more than 15 years of age.
When Cyril Brun was briefed to recreate this iconic cuvée, he struggled to achieve the plenitude and drama he was looking for. Then, he dug in the Heidsieck archives and discovered, as he tells it, that the famous vintages of Charlie, while vintaged on paper, actually contained reserve wines. Brun therefore gave himself carte blanche to draw on the house's best lots to put together the inaugural NV Champagne Charlie, based on the 2016 vintage but incorporating fully 78% reserve wines dating back two decades. Bursting with aromas of golden orchard fruit, brioche, honeycomb, peaches, spices and buttery pastry, it's full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, with a layered core of fruit, racy acids and a beautifully refined pinpoint mousse. Some 52% of the blend is Chardonnay, with Brun looking for ripe, exotic Chardonnay to complement more tensile lots of Pinot Noir. It's a compelling, flamboyant wine—the only thing that may make consumers smart is the price. Drink 2023 - 2040.
William Kelley - Wine Advocate (Sep 2022)
An astonishing bouquet presenting notes of petroleum and flint that mingle with scents of pastry and both dried apricot and apricot jam. Complexity and generosity stand out on the palate, with that exemplary creamy and mellow mouthfeel that aged Champagnes at their best can have, but there is also freshness and an underlying crystalline sensation serving as counterpoint to the fullness of texture that is enhanced by the dosage. The chalk-infused finish is long and subtle, leaving a lingering impression of spices, including vanilla and pepper, as well as dried fruits. Bottled and cellared in 2017. Disgorged: November 2021. Dosage: 7g/L. 80% reserve wines and 20% wines from the 2016 harvest. 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir from Aÿ. Drink 2022 - 2030.
Yohan Castaing - Decanter
It was a monumental undertaking for Cyril Brun to set about recreating the spirit of his late friend Daniel Thibault (‘god on earth’), and his inaugural release is grand testimony to his success. It takes the highest skill of a master blender to unite the dramatic and diverse universes of vintages spanning three decades with such seamlessness as this. Seven months pre-release, it is at once coiled and introverted and at the same time exuberant and extroverted, embracing the full expanse of the firmament of deep complexity that is Charles, brimming with the opulent spice of deep reserves, succulent stone fruits and silky refinement. Effortless harmony suspends everything in intricate balance between the zest of citrus and the succulence of peach, the cut of acidity and the texture of gentle chalk minerality and just the right edge of understated bite. This is no showstopper but rather ethereally silky, seductively graceful, alluringly polished, eloquently understated and hauntingly persistent – the very essence of Charles, and grand testament to Cyril’s mastery as a blender. Daniel Thibault would be proud indeed.