We tasted: Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002

tasting during last winter, Madrid

It’s time to talk about another important champagne house from Reims: Piper-Heidsieck, based on the alliance made in 1839 between Henri-Guillaume Piper and the widow of Christian Heidsieck. This full of history house, established one year after their marriage, has its roots back in time, in 1785, when Florens-Louis Heidsieck, the son of a Lutheran minister from Westphalia that moved to Reims to work in the textile industry, bought vineyards and started producing wine. In 1788 he presented his champagne to the queen Marie-Antoinette; she liked it so much that she gave Heidsieck the equivalent of 14 exclusive VIP accounts in the royal court. His nephew, Christian Heidsieck took over the control of Heidsieck & Co after Florens-Louis’ death in 1828, while Henri Piper, who joined company in 1815, handled its sales. Another important champagne house, that has the “Heidsieck” name, maison Charles Heidsieck was founded in 1851 by Charles Camille Heidsieck, the son of Charles-Henri Heidsieck, who was also a nephew of Florens-Louis Heidsieck.

In 1980, the champagne house, famous for being Marilyn’s Monroe preferred champagne and served at Oscar receptions, became, until 2011, part of the prestigious Rémy Cointreau wine and spirits group.

Both Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck houses are now owned by the French luxury company EPI (Européenne de Participations Industrielles), run by  Christopher Descours since 2005.

But let’s focus now on this cuvée prestige from Piper-Heidsieck, Rare. It has been considered the best cuvée from the decade 2000-2009 by experts from 30 countries (collaborators of the internationally known Fine Champagne Magazine). Also this cuvée took the first prize at a blind tasting organized by Tastingbook.com (Reims, 2015-2016), followed by Krug Clos du Mesnil 2000 and Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2002.

The story behind this cuvée started in 1885 when Piper-Heidsieck created a very exclusive cuvée to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the house. The bottle was designed by the famous Tsar’s Nicholas II jeweler – Fabergé. It was a superb bottle dressed in white gold, diamonds and lapis lazuli gemstones. The first Rare cuvée was launched 100 years later, in 1976, and the bottle’s ornamentation was designed by the Parisian jewelers Van Cleef & Arpels. It was clearly inspired by the original Fabergé design. Later editions were designed by Arthus Bertrand (including the 2002 edition). Tasting this cuvée was a real pleasure; on the nose we’ve got fresh notes of lychee, pineapple, cinnamon, vanilla, watermelon, white flowers and lemon. On the palate, papaya, pineapple at the first moment, followed by blackberries, caramel and smoke notes, figs, dried cherries and nuts. The finish is long with an extraordinary acidity along with a complex structured minerality, white pepper and chalkiness. This champagne has a huge potential for being kept at least 10-20 years more, in good conditions.

CLB score


*take a look at our CLB scoring

Type of champagneBrut
Grapes70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir
Village/terroir17 crus from Montagne de Reims (plus Avize)
Agedsur lies at least 7 years
Sizebottle (75cl)
Number of bottlesN/A
Price range (euro)160-190
Chef de CavesRégis Camus
Other considerentsno malolactic fermentation, crus vinified separately

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