Blanc des Millénaires 2007 was just one of a string of major new Champagne releases to be unveiled last week as the Champenois hit London for the Taste Champagne event. The 2007 is only the seventh vintage of Charles Heidsieck’s top cuvée to be released since the inaugural 1983 and Cyril Brun, chef de cave, steadfastly refuses to change the make-up of its five-cru blend in order to truly reflect the vintage. It is, after all, like a hairstyle he says – it changes over the decades but do you notice? and does it get any better?
“My word this will become a wine of beauty over the next two decades,” writes Jones about the Blanc des Millénaires 2007
The first UK release and tasting of the Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2007 was hosted on Tuesday at 67 Pall Mall, with the chef de caves Cyril Brun not only hosting this exclusive tasting but adding his amazing wit and charm on the production of this seventh release of this top notch cuvée, made only in exceptional years.
All the grapes are bought in for this wine from growers who are part of the Heidsieck family, nurtured over the years, Brun mentioned the ties are quite deep, including him turning up at family growers’ weddings not to toast the bride but to ensure the father of the bride will continue to give him the best grapes.
Of the three Champagne houses named Heidsieck – all originating from families once related – Charles is the smallest and, arguably, the best. The House was established in 1851 by the nephew of Piper-Heidsieck’s owner, Charles Heidsieck, the original ‘Champagne Charlie’ who gained the nickname during his travels around America in the mid-19th Century, a country whose introduction to Champagne is credited to Charles.
The recipe for the Millénaires has not changed from the start, with 1983 being the first, “why change a great recipe”, Cyril also noted that “nature is the boss” so each release will differ in taste as it is dependant on that vintage. Importantly the wine is 100% Chardonnay fermented in steel tanks cru by cru, full malolactic fermentation. The Champagne is made in equal parts from five crus (four grand cru and one premier cru) in the Côte des Blancs. Technically, Cyril said the measurements may vary from 19.5% to 20.5% from each Cru, but it matters not in the bigger quest for perfection. “When you add the five parts together it is easier to make a great wine.” Has the style changed over the years? to this Brun noted “a bit like your hairstyle it will change over decades, you may not notice, but does it get any better ?”
The flight of Blanc des Millénaires
The publicity for the wine states “an unusual and surprising year (2007) a huge difference to the 2006, this is the seventh release of the Millénaires, a “Sparkling oxymoron – youthfulness and ageing potential”. After tasting the new Blanc des Millénaires 2007 we tasted three other vintages to give the new release a point of reference.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2007
Brun stated that this was a dangerous wine as you will drink it too quickly. He is right but my word this will become a wine of beauty over the next two decades, it is focused with bright spices, vibrant and exciting. Gentle pineapple, hints of white florals, chalk, tropical citrus more yuzu and clementine than lemon, on the back there is some creamy, vanilla, crisp biscuit feel, balanced with the racy freshness, hints of caramel, quince and meringue on finish. A wine that will evolve and display different nuances and flavours as it matures into adulthood – worth buying a case or two and watch it bloom. Blanc des Millénaires 2007 was disgorged July 2021 after more than 13 years on lees.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2006
Big difference here as this had evolved and was definitely a food wine crying out for some turbot cooked with truffles and morels. Brioche toasty, ripe stone fruit, dried succulent Christmas fruit, a touch of espresso and chocolate with caramelised pineapple. Serve it in a Chardonnay glass to get the full monty. Would drink this in the next five years.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2004
Such purity and freshness! This has gentle tropical fruits, perfectly peeled Antibes market stone fruit, coco dust, creamy, fresh herbs, lime, the time on lees gives it a luxurious oak feel (no oak has been near it). Truly outstanding, it still has plenty of time to mature over the next decade.
Brun, who would have a great back-up job as a stand-up comedian stated that the production of the 1995 was four times the norm, due to lack of accountancy control, and would have expected everyone in the room to have drunk much of it unless they had been in prison since its release! Luckily I had had a bottle for Sunday lunch the weekend before… here are my notes, I matched it to a duo of spiced shellfish dishes, Chardonnay being a perfect foil and partner to spices.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995
Refined, elegant delicate pineapple, gentle honeyed perfume, gentle bubbles, bright floral mid-palate that is seamless, so pure and relaxing and slips down with such ease, chalky minerality with quince and hints of spice. The finish is majestic.
The seven releases to date are; 1983, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2004, 2006 & 2007
Tasting the 2021 vins clairs
As is the norm in recent tastings we were first given an insight into the components that make up the end product, with vins clairs from the 2021 harvest, these typify the quality and precision that goes into the making of these sublime Blanc de Blancs, sourced from the five specific regions: Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Vertus. These still wines are blended by the chef de caves prior to being bottled for their second fermentation.
Light crisp and floral, pink grapefruit, spiced, restrained acidity.
Zesty, lemon curd, fresh minerality, Brun said he drinks this now. Has a lovely refined texture, fresh and exuberant. As a Chardonnay base this is pretty perfect, Brun quipped in “You don’t need to put mayonnaise on butter” reflecting on over-extraction, and the need for restraint with Chardonnay.
Richer, the ‘backbone’, butterscotch, acacia honey, taut acidity, noble positive bitterness.
Le Mesnil sur Oger 2021
Gripping, more grape juice, lemon zesty acidity, powerful bright and loud
Mellow, honeyed, beeswax, curd, white flowers, buttercups, touch of flesh (pre-1950s Vertus used to have substantial amounts of Pinot Noir growing, now uprooted).
Great post on CH. BTW, it’s ‘taut acidity’, not ‘taught acidity’.
Duly corrected. Thanks. We’re blaming autocorrect 😉