The history of this emblematic house, Charles Heidsieck, is one of the most interesting in Champagne. Established in 1851 in Reims, by Charles, the youngest member of the Heidsiecks, a famous wine-producer family in the city, the champagne house focused on selling its bottles abroad, especially to Belgium and England. Very soon, in 1852, Charles Heidsieck decided to travel to the United States, becoming the first merchant to market his own champagne there. He arrived in Boston, then he went inland towards Syracuse, Buffalo and finally, New York. He was happy with the people and places he visited and decided to send a huge shipment of champagne to the United States. The Americans were in love with his champagne and five years later, when he returned with around 300.000 bottles to New York, he was received like a hero. He became very popular: receptions held in his honour, newspapers including his photo on first pages, and everyone calling him “Champagne Charlie”. At that time, he was one of the most important persons in New York, maybe the most important. He understood the importance of the publicity and marketing in selling his champagne and, with his extraordinary charisma, he held everyone in his pocket. Then he started to travel all around the US: Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, enjoying the beauty of the landscapes and the possibilities that a still wild country offers. When the American Civil War started (1861) he was back in Reims in order to deal with the next shipments to United States. He became alarmed as he still had to cash in for the thousands of bottles he sent there previously, so he got ticket on the first boat heading to the United States. The situation there had changed dramatically and the war took over the social life. He found out that he would not be paid by his agent, as a new law was enacted absolving debtors of their obligations (so that the South cotton tycoons could not get their money from the North). He decided to go personally to the South, to New Orleans, to collect the debt directly from his clients. Once there, he found out that nobody had the money to pay him, but he accepted a trade with cotton that, at the time, meant a fortune in Europe. But to bring it there, he had to ship it, and because of the war blockade, it was a very risky endeavour. In fact, his boats had been sunk by the Northern navy and all the cargo lost. Disappointed, Charles now only wanted to return to France, but also the situation was difficult for traveling. He was captured by the Union army, accused of being a spy and thrown into a notorious prison (Fort Jackson). In only half a year, Heidsieck’s health had worsened dramatically and only the intervention of the emperor Napoleon III to president Abraham Lincoln saved him. Back home after months of health recovery, he’s confronted with the bankruptcy (his wife, Amélie Henriot, started to sell some of the vineyards to pay their debts) as all his efforts to cash in for the bottles he delivered were unsuccessful. But, to his luck, he received some land in Colorado, many of them extremely precious, due to the Silver Boom (some representing almost a third of the city of Denver). With this fortunate event, the situation at the champagne house has been restored and in 1867 he even bought several old chalk quarries, Les Crayères in Reims, which dated from the Gallo-Roman era and now are on the list of Unesco World Heritage. Charles Heidsieck died in 1893. Between 1957 and 1985, Champagne Charles Heidsieck was owned by another famous champagne house, Henriot. Since 2011, Champagne Charles Heidsieck has been owned by the French luxury goods group EPI (Société européenne de participations industrielles) founded by Christopher Descours.
I know the story is longer than our usual posts, but we wanted to share this as is it is one of the most interesting episodes in champagne’s history. Now let’s focus on this beautiful cuvée, Blanc des Millénaires, millésime 1995. With more than 20 years on lies, this exceptional champagne is the result of combining grapes from 5 of the most important villages of Côte des Blancs: Oger, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus, Avize and Cramant. On the nose it shows noble hints of confiture, dried fruits, almonds, honey, butter, biscuits and vanilla. On the palate its freshness is surprising, it has a lovely mousse, it’s balanced, complex and the notes of white flowers and brioche are melting together supported by a well balanced and dynamic minerality. Oiled salinity at the finish makes place to a long and enchanting aftertaste. This cuvée reached its plenitude and is a total round exquisite experience tasting it. We tasted it in two different occasions, in May 2020 in Madrid and in September 2021 in the Canary Islands and we definitely reached the conclusion it is one of the best vintage champagne we have ever tasted.
*take a look at our CLB scoring
|Type of champagne||Brut|
|Village/terroir||Avize, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Vertus|
|Aged||on lees for more than 20 years|
|Number of bottles||N/A|
|Price range (euro)||180-190|
|Chef de Caves||Daniel Thibault (1976-1985, 1985-2002), Regis Camus (2004-2012), Thierry Roset (2012-2015 RIP), Cyril Brun (2015>)|
|Other considerents||malolactic fermentation undergone in steel tanks|