Piper-Heidsieck is one of the world’s most prestigious Champagne houses. It’s right up there with Moët & Chandon and Louis Roederer, always in demand. You’ve seen it on restaurant wine lists, in night clubs and in the finest wine shops. With a bit of luck, you’ve even had the good fortune to taste a Piper-Heidsieck Champagne or two. With that said, how much do you really know about Piper-Heidsieck? This beginner’s guide will te
This beginner’s guide will teach you everything you need to know to appreciate Piper-Heidsieck wines. History? Yep. Winemaking? Why not! Wine tasting? You bet. We’ve even got some Piper-Heidsieck Champagne food pairings for you to try.
A brief history of Piper-Heidsieck
Few wine regions on the earth can boast as dramatic and storied a history as Champagne. For centuries, Champagne has been the drink of choice for kings and queens, tsars, presidents and more. There are family affairs to rival Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey. Lest we forget, the Champagne vineyard was also ravaged by war not so long ago. Each of the major Champagne houses has its own storied history, and Piper-Heidsieck is, of course, no exception.
One Florens-Louis Heidsieck, a German who had discovered Champagne some years earlier, founded the company that would become Piper-Heidsieck Champagne. Originally known as Heidsieck & Cie, the company had the ambition to create a cuvée to impress Marie Antoinette. Whether you consider her a brand ambassador or a very early case of influencer marketing, Marie was enraptured by the wine and Piper-Heidsieck was set for big things.
Florens-Louis passed away, and his nephew Christian stepped in to continue the family legacy. Christian’s trusted associate and colleague Henri-Guillaume Piper joined him and the two managed to elevate the company’s already sterling reputation, going on to secure numerous lucrative royal warrants.
Following Christian’s sudden death in 1835, his widow remarried – with Henri-Guillaume Piper, of all people. Their marriage secured the bond between the Heidsieck and Piper families, and hence the name Piper-Heidsieck was born.
The first Piper-Heidsieck prestige cuvée was created. Its luxurious bottle was handcrafted by the master jeweller to Russian Tsar Alexander III. Since then, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne has shared a bond with fine jewellery.
A bottle of Piper-Heidsieck became the first Champagne to appear on the big screen, in the Laurel & Hardy movie Sons of the Desert. Hollywood’s love affair with Piper-Heidsieck has never abated, and it has appeared in numerous memorable films since. Marilyn Monroe was a particularly influential fan of the brand. In 1993, Piper-Heidsieck became the official Champagne supplier of the Cannes Film Festival.
As war raged on throughout Europe, the house and cellars of Piper-Heidsieck were used to conceal weapons for the French resistance, before ultimately becoming occupied by the Germans. The house and its reputation managed to survive the war and thrive from then on.
Following a period of ownership by luxury goods group Rémy Cointreau, Piper-Heidsieck was bought by the Descours family of the EPI group.
How Piper-Heidsieck Champagne is made
The house of Piper-Heidsieck does not own any vineyards. Its business is to buy grapes from the many Champagne growers in the region and to use these raw materials to vinify, blend, bottle, age and eventually sell world-class sparkling wine.
As with all Champagne, Piper-Heidsieck is produced using the traditional method. Also called the “Champagne method”, this is a lengthy and expensive process involving a second alcoholic fermentation that takes place in the bottle. It is this secondary fermentation that gives Champagne its sparkle. Piper-Heidsieck’s different cuvées will each have slightly different production methods and blends.
Let’s open a bottle and see what the end result tastes like, shall we?
Tasting Piper-Heidsieck Champagne
The Piper-Heidsieck wine range has something for every type of Champagne lover. Perhaps best known is Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut, its non-vintage Brut Champagne. If you really want to get a measure of a Champagne house, try their non-vintage wine. This is the flagship for most producers, and if it’s good (or isn’t), that’ll usually give you an idea about the rest of the range.
It’s got a light colour with what looks like a million fine, racy bubbles.
On the nose, it’s got floral aromas, fresh apricot and peach fruits and some bready and yeasty notes.
In the mouth, this is crisp and refined. The vibrant acidity is refreshing and decidedly more-ish. The finish is long and elegant.
Alcohol content: 12%Serve between 4ºC and 8ºCOptimal consumption period: 2017-2018Best served in Champagne Glass
Food pairing with Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut
The beauty of Champagne is that it’s good anytime, anywhere. Food or no food, Champagne is a versatile drink to match just about any occasion. For this Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, we recommend:
French-style fruits de la mer:
If you’ve ever been to a traditional French market, you’ll know this dish. It’s a big platter of the freshest seafood you’ve ever seen. You’ve got oysters, prawns, sea snails, crab and more. All totally fresh and straight out of the sea. The crisp acidity and delicate flavour of the Piper-Heidsieck will go down a treat.