|Appellation||Champagne (wine region)|
|Known for||Cuvée Brut (non-vintage)
|Varietals||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier|
Piper-Heidsieck is a Champagne house from the Champagne region of France. Founded by Florens-Louis Heidsieck in 1785 in Reims, the Heidsieck name was combined with the Piper name in 1838. Piper-Heidsieck is owned by private French luxury goods EPI headed by Christopher Descours.
The company was founded by Florens-Louis Heidsieck in 1785 and is one of the 10 oldest Maisons de champagne. It has outlived eras and governments, survived wars, dreadful harvests and the vagaries of winemaking, while remaining a family business. This extraordinary resilience, demonstrated for over 200 years by families with determination, has made it an exception Maison.
It all begins with Florens-Louis Heidsieck. The son of a Protestant minister, born in Westphalia in 1749, he started out as a draper in Reims where he fell in love with a girl from Champagne…and with the wine from Champagne. He was overcome with the ambition to “make a cuvée worthy of a queen.” In 1785, he founded the Cloth and Wine Trading Company Heidsieck& Co. On 6 May 1785, it is said that Florens-Louis Heidsieck received the honour of personally presenting his wine to Queen Marie-Antoinette.
Upon Florens-Louis’ death in 1828, his nephew Christian Heidsieck went into partnership with Henri-Guillaume Piper, a talented man with gifted business acumen. After the death of Christian Heidsieck in 1835, his widow remarried Henri-Guillaume Piper in 1838. And thus the PIPER-HEIDSIECK brand was born.
Upon the death of Henri-Guillaume in 1870, Jacques-Charles Théodore Kunkelmann, partner since 1851, took the reins at the Maison. In 1892, his son Ferdinand-Théodore Kunkelmann became his successor. In 1926, his daughter, Yolande Kunkelmann, married the Marquis Jean de Suarez d’Aulan; a pioneering aviator. During the Second World War, the Marquis Jean de Suarez d'Aulan agreed to hide weapons for use by the Champagne Resistance in his cellars. He died in combat in 1944. PIPER-HEIDSIECK was placed under sequestration by the occupiers. After the Liberation of France, the Champagne House would almost certainly have collapsed if it had not been re-launched by his wife Yolande, with the assistance of General d’Alès, who she would later remarry in 1945.
In 1885, to celebrate one century of its existence, Jacques-Charles Kunkelmann commissioned Pierre-Karle Fabergé, jeweller to Alexander III, Tsar of Russia, to design a bottle in diamonds, gold and lapis-lazuli. One hundred years later, PIPER-HEIDSIECK celebrated its bicentary with a new creation: a bottle of Rare set with diamonds and gold by Van Cleef & Arpels, inspired by the original Fabergé design. It was valued at over one million francs at the time.
In 1957, the Marquis Jean de Suarez d’Aulan and Yolande Kunkelmann’s eldest son François d’Aulan took over the business. He presided over PIPER-HEIDSIECK Champagnes for thirty-three years. In 1988 he passed on the torch to the Hériard Dubreuil family. Then, in 2011, the Descours family took the reins. Now it is Christopher Descours, grandson of Jean-Louis Descours, a major figure in the National Council of French Employers, who has the future of this Champagne House in his hands
Piper-Heidsieck currently produces a variety of different champagnes:
- Cuvée Brut (non-vintage) is a classic, structured, full-bodied and bursting with fruit Champagne. The blend is composed of a majority of Pinot Noir, incorporating more than 100 crus from around the Champagne region and Pinot Meunier from the Grande et Petite Montagne de Reims region. Tasting notes: A structured, full-bodied and franc wine. A juicy, fleshy pear and golden apple texture. The finish narrows to citrus and grapefruit flavors. A wine with great fruit, a good mouthfeel and a harmonious balance.
- Rosé Sauvage (non-vintage) is a blended Rosé added to the PIPER-HEIDSIECk Cuvée Brut classic blend. It is a great, not so classic, structured, full-bodied Champagne, with more than just a hint of red fruits and elaborated with a majority of Pinot Noir wine from over 100 crus, and Pinot Meunier from the Grande et Petite Montagne de Reims region. Tasting notes: A brisk, original and juicy wine which simultaneously offers black cherry, blackberry, pink grapefruit and blood orange notes. This structure and fruitiness is enriched with warm, spicy notes of Espelette pepper, tea and liquorice.
- Cuvée Sublime A demi-sec champagne with a maturation period extended by a year with a generous dosage. Tasting notes:It is a lively attack on candied citrus fruits and roasted pineapple. A duality which balances itself between smoothness and juiciness - cinnamon and vanilla-roasted pear. A structured, full-bodied, melt-in-the-mouth wine.
- 2006 Vintage Brut A special release from 2006, a year considered exceptional by PIPER-HEIDSIECK, marked by highly contrasted weather that offered a contrasted expression of the grapes. Composed of 49% Pinot Noir, which was exceptionally intense this year and 51% Chardonnay, which was ready for long maturation. Tasting notes:A particularly dense and structured wine, whose generous structure is plush with candied orange peel, highlighted with a touch of smoked tea and toasted almonds. An incredibly long finish; balanced and elegantly charming.
- Rare Vintage 2002 A prestige cuvee from the 2002 vintage - structured, full-bodied and bursting with fruit. Elaborated with 70% Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims region and complemented with 30% Pinot Noir from the same region. The wine is a blend of 17 crus which matured over seven years in the House's cellars. Tasting notes:It is a voluptuous delicacy with meringue notes. Subtle nuances evoke distant lands - mint tea, lime, kumquat and exotic fruits such as pineapple and candied ginger.
Affiliation with the Cinema
PIPER-HEIDSIECK has been the champagne of the American movie industry since first appearing – with Laurel and Hardy – in the 1934 classic Sons of the Desert. In 1964, to celebrate Rex Harrison's Oscar for My Fair Lady, he was presented with a bottle as tall as he was containing a full 48 litres of vintage champagne.
In 1991, a 28-year-old Jodie Foster received the first PIPER-HEIDSIECK award for outstanding achievement for her directing debut, Little Man Tate, which featured at the Boston Film Festival. The same year, at the Chicago International Film Festival John Cusack also received the PIPER-HEIDSIECK award for his achievements in film. The champagne brand has historically also been involved with the Sundance Film Festival. Recipients of the PIPER-HEIDSIECK Award and/or Tribute to Independent Vision at Sundance include: John Turturro, Denzel Washington, Gena Rowlands, Nicolas Cage, Dianne Wiest, Tim Robbins, Frances McDormand, Laura Dern, Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore.
However, PIPER-HEIDSIECK is best known as being the official champagne supplier of the Cannes Film Festival for over 20 years and counting. It routinely releases limited editions for the event, including, for the 67th festival, a bottle decorated with a mythical film roll
In 2015, PIPER-HEIDSIECK returns to the Oscars after celebrating "Dances with Wolves" in 1991, "The Silence of the Lambs" in 1992, "Unforgiven" in 1993 and "Shakespeare in Love" in 1999. It has signed a three-year partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles which will see PIPER-HEIDSIECK champagnes served at all events organised by the Academy Awards. PIPER-HEIDSIECK Brut, Rosé Sauvage and Rare will first be served during the prestigious 87th Oscars ceremony.
Régis Camus is the Cellar Master at PIPER-HEIDSIECK, and, in 2014, celebrated his 20th Anniversary with the House. In July 2013, he earned the highest distinction at the International Wine Challenge's Awards Dinner for the seventh consecutive year—the eighth time since 2004. The IWC is one of the oldest and most prestigious wine competitions in the world.
Camus strives “To create and elaborate the PIPER-HEIDSIECK non-vintage Cuvée Brut, which represents the style and the identity of the House… the aim is to ensure this Cuvée has the same quality each year.”
Régis Camus’ noteworthy contributions to the PIPER-HEIDSIECK House include the decision to vinify varieties and crus individually upon the opening of a new winery in 1995 and the long term decision to begin building up the house’s collection of reserve wines. He is also credited with selecting Pinot Noir grapes from Champagne’s Côte des Bar, which are used in the majority of the House's blends and gives the wines structure, complexity and fruitiness.
- French Luxury Firm Buys Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck Wine Spectator June 6, 2011
- List of Sundance Film Festival award winners
Media related to Piper-Heidsieck at Wikimedia Commons
- Champagne Piper-Heidsieck (official website)