Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée 'Essentiel’ Extra Brut NV
Grape Varietals: *50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier & 20% Chardonnay
Growing Region: Reims - France
Chef de Cave: Régis Camus
5 Stars ★★★★★
The Cuvée ‘Essentiel’ project started in 2008 - I caught up with Régis in June the following year to do a vin-clair tasting. Where Camus explained the base wines that were crafted due to a market demand for something with less dosage, and in an extra brut style. Régis has said on many occasions - this is a flagship wine for the Champagne House - with more age and less sweetness: what you have is the essence of the base wines and the house style.
Talking with Régis in July of this year - “I am proud of this Cuvée 'Essential’ - it symbolises the essence of our Champagnes. The extended age and lower dosage in this wine is a pure expression of the Piper-Heidsieck style: a crisp, structured and ardent wine.”
This wine shows how far Piper-Heidsieck has come since the arrival of Regis in 1994. It illustrates their confidence in the bare bones that go into the base wine. As Régis explains - “It is not something new, but something slightly more bare, slightly more authentic and therefore all the more compelling”.
For those who appreciate fresh, defined notes - ‘Essentiel’ is expressive of the ‘zeitgeist’. Today the majority of Champagne enthusiasts are wanting something simple, fresh, with an uncomplicated structure, character, and without over-powering intensity - voila. Essentiel is exactly the same base wine as the Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV, but with a further 12-18 months of lees ageing, and less dosage. The normal Brut NV has between 8-10g/L dosage whereas ‘Essentiel’ has 5-6g/L. The current release of ‘Essentiel’ is based mainly on the 2012 harvest and contains 15-20% reserve wines. Bottled in early 2013 to begin secondary fermentation and was disgorged in June 2017 - so just over 4 years on lees.
It must be noted that not every bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV can become 'Essentiel’ - as this is a selection Régis will make depending upon where in the cellar the bottles are stored - there are a few corners where things are just right, i.e. humidity and temperature. The style of Piper is renowned for freshness. Structure from Pinot Noir which makes up 50-55% of the blend, a citrus core provided by Chardonnay and lifted fruit notes from the Pinot Meunier and composed from up to 100 villages.
• A wine with charm. Bright and inviting in the glass, with a well-defined aromatic purity showcasing citrus, white flesh pip-fruits, crisp-crunchy gold and green apples and blanched almonds. This ‘Extra-Brut’ style is vigorously ardent, crisp and firm but at the same time delicate across the palate. The lower dosage makes for a more food-friendly cuvée that maintains the principles of the Champagne House in an elegant and refined way. The palate is vibrantly confident, showcasing those defined pip-fruit flavours plus highlighting a citrus core, morning crisp apples, cashew nuts and a salty dry breeze to finish.
This Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée 'Essentiel’ Extra Brut NV has 12% Alc./vol. Chill gently and serve in a generously curved flute or an aromatic wine glass at 8°- 10°C.
Drinking perfectly this season; plus will bring joy to your taste buds for another 5 - 6 years.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
Perfect wine pairing with oysters, scallops, crayfish, lobster, gravlax salad, seafood paella, Moroccan prawn & lemon couscous, also Lemon Meringue Pie and citrus sorbet - enjoy.