On 11th December 2017 (Mon), we enjoyed five vintages of Piper-Heidsieck’s ‘Rare’ Champagne, their prestige cuvée made in exceptional vintages.
The event’s oldest vintage – 1976 – provides our introduction as it marked the 1985 bi-centenary of the maison’s founding tale: in 1785 Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie Antoinette with a bottle of his Champagne – a cuvée worthy of a queen. Apparently she liked it (perhaps with cake?). In 1885, to celebrate the first centennial, Pierre-Karl Fabergé designed a fab bottle of the maison’s Champagne encrusted with gold, diamonds and lapis lazuli. And, you guessed it, in 1985, Piper-Heidsieck launched ‘Rare’ with the release of the inaugural vintage – 1976.
A little sleuthing on the interweb reveals that Piper-Heidsieck commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels to make a single gold and diamond-encased bottle of that 1976 Rare, with a mid-‘80s insurance value of USD $100,000. That piece unique was on a thirteen-city promotional tour of the United States when, in February 1987, it was stolen at its last stop. Was it ever recovered? I don’t know. I’ll see what I can find out…
Four bottles of the 1976 Rare from Piper-Heidsieck’s reserves eventually received all the sign-offs necessary to feature in our Hong Kong dinner. And wow, what a wine it was! I would say the best 1976 Champagne I have yet had the pleasure to experience.
Happily, too, the packaging is a world away from the more sober and serious labels we see on top-tier Champagne. Available gift-boxed, these are perfect end of year gifts.