Piper Heidsieck, along with sister house Charles Heidsieck, spent much of the 1990s and early 2000s somewhat lost in the Remy Cointreau portfolio. The familiar red label was mostly seen in supermarkets, frequently at a discount – not quite the romance one would expect for a house with nearly 250 years of history and a brand that was once the darling of Hollywood. Marilyn Monroe was likely their finest brand ambassador: “I go to bed with a few drops of Chanel No 5 and I wake up each morning to a glass of Piper Heidsieck”.
In 2011, both houses were purchased by French luxury brand group EPI (also now owners of Biondi-Santi) and it is fair to say that they are both back on track. Investment has been considerable and considered; quality has followed. The non-vintage champagne itself is rather good; racy, lifted and floral. Their vintage is even better, and we have a few cases of their 2014 at what is a very sharp price: £390 per dozen in bond.
The fruit – mostly from premier and grand cru vineyards - is sourced from the villages of Verzy, Ambonnay, Tauxières, Montgueux, Avize and Barbonne and the make up is 45% Chardonnay, 55% Pinot Noir. Dosage is 7 grams per litre and the wine was disgorged in December 2020.
We tasted a bottle in the office earlier this month and rather liked it. It's a fresh and lively style - the emphasis is on acidity rather than richesse - with no shortage of complexity behind the up-front pleasure. Delicious now, it will only improve with further time in bottle. And it's also the least expensive vintage Champagne on our list.
Much as I wrote last year, the 2014 Brut Vintage opens in the glass with notes of crisp orchard fruit, freshly baked bread, lemon oil and light reduction. Medium to full-bodied, deep and tightly wound, with racy acids and chalky grip, it continues to display a pinpoint mousse and concludes with a long, dry finish. As it unwinds with time in the cellar, it's revealing more potential.
Bright straw colour and lively mousse. A broad nose of citrus curd, brioche and fresh cream here. The palate has an oyster shell salinity that sits against a creamy, full-bodied mousse. Tangy acids refresh the smoky, silky texture and rich autolytic, bready tones. A refreshing but complex Champagne, this has an immediacy that can be enjoyed now, with a lick of sweet fruit providing real drinking pleasure. Fresh with acids to the finish, it will age gracefully for a decade in bottle.
The 2014 Champagne Millésime Brut is 65% Pinot Noir and the rest Chardonnay and is fresh with aromas of yellow plum, pear, honey, and light toast. The palate is fresh and approachable, with starberry and bread dough. Drink 2022-2032.
Piper Vintage 2014 is going from strength to strength, with its sublime coffee-toned toasty complexity and sweet, exotic-fruit extravaganza. This is an underrated cuvée that brings immediate pleasure but can also be kept for further expression. There is voluptuous fruit of welcoming overtness on the mid-palate, but soon a sensation of acidity enters, impressing with its energising raciness and drive. Really long and saline, bursting with pristine fruit. Rewards further cellaring.
A bright, silky and vinous Champagne with aromas of dried apricots, walnuts, seashells, preserved lemons, raspberry tart and frangipani. Very fine bubbles here, with succulent citrus and berry fruit. Why wait? Drink now.