Charles Heidsieck releases ‘dangerously drinkable’ 2012 vintage

Charles Heidsieck has released its 2012 vintage in the UK through Liberty Wines, which cellar master Cyril Brun describes as “dangerously drinkable with a noble bitterness”.

Charles Heidsieck’s chef de cave, Cyril Brun

The Champagne, which has an RRP of £100, was launched in the UK this week by Brun and Charles Heidsieck’s managing director, Stephen Leroux, via a Zoom call to key members of the UK wine trade.

During the launch meeting, Brun said he believes the wine navigates the divide between the 2006 and 2008 vintages.

“We decided to release the 2012 vintage now as it’s entering an interesting phase. In terms of style I would place it in between 2008 and 2006. It doesn’t have the same generosity as 2006, but isn’t as austere and closed as 2008.

“The 2012 vintage is very enjoyable now, as it’s quite rich, but it will age comfortably for a decade. The vintage brings together elements of the 2006 and 2008 vintages. It will keep gaining in complexity and structure over the next 10 years,” Brun said.

Brun was honest about the challenges of the 2012 growing season. “It was a chaotic year that had everything from spring frosts and winter frosts to a lot of summer rain. Weather-wise it was a catastrophic year.

“Luckily, perfect weather in August managed to secure the potential of the vintage. It’s a very well balanced wine, which you wouldn’t expect given the climactic conditions,” Brun admitted.

“It’s rich and mature but there is a tension to it and a noble bitterness that will help the wine age. On the nose are notes of peach, candied fruit and mirabelle plum.

“You get the Charles Heidsieck signature straight away with its tiny bubbles. It’s a rich mouthful but it’s not a heavy wine. It’s a dangerous wine as once you’ve had a drop you immediately want to drink more,” he added.

Charles Heidsieck 2012 is blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from grand and premier cru vineyards. The yields were much higher than Brun expected, at 13,500 kilos per hectare.

In terms of sugar levels, Brun revealed that the 2012 vintage has one of the house’s lowest dosage levels on record.

“The dosage of the wine is one of the lowest we’ve ever had, at 8g/l. If it was any higher then it wouldn’t match the profile of the vintage, as it’s quite a rich wine,” Brun said.

“I think dosage will become more of a secondary topic soon because the profile of the vintages are going to have a big impact on the dosage levels, which will vary a lot from vintage to vintage.

“Acidity is a key element to ageing Champagne but it’s not the only one – sugar isn’t the enemy of Champagne.”

“We want to keep the 2012 on the market for three years so will be disgorging it in batches. We made around 80,000 bottles and will be releasing some magnums next year. We’re looking into putting the disgorgement dates on the bottles in the future,” said Leroux, who revealed he loved the smoky gunpowder character of the 2012 vintage.

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