Decanter.com reports on what happens at a luxury Champagne launch in Paris and speaks exclusively to Piper-Heidsieck chef de caves Régis Camus, who talks Champagne flutes, serving wine in 30-degree heat and a tough 2016 harvest...
Piper-Heidsieck presented its latest Rare Rosé Champagne 2007 at a secret garden banquet in Paris last week.
Champagne houses are not shy about pulling out all of the stops for launch parties.
Piper-Heidsieck set up a feast for the senses set in the gardens of Musée Albert-Khan.
Guests were led over stepping-stones and ornate bridges, through a series of workshops designed to emulate the aromas, colours and flavours of the new luxury Champagne cuvée.
Each workshop was paired with a tasting of different Piper-Heidsieck Champagne vintages, and a canapé created to complement the theme. The perfume workshop was accompanied by sushi wrapped in edible flowers.
Guests’ noses were put to the test as master perfumer Patrick Hérault passed around bottles of essences to be identified. He also showed how alcohol intensifies aromas when added to fruit and floral extracts.
Finally, guests were led past the imposing glass ‘Jardin d’Hiver’ to a long banqueting table covered in gold-embroidered pink fabric, flowers and bowls of fruit.
Chef de cave Régis Camus introduced the 2007 cuvée, made with 56% Chardonnay and 44% Pinot Noir, left on the lees for eight years.
‘2007 was a difficult vintage for champagne growers, the season had a very early start with inconsistent flowering and more importantly – especially compared to this year – August was very cold,’ said Camus.
‘Because of these climate conditions, the number of Champagnes from this year is low – only a few very audacious chef de caves dared to make a 2007 vintage.’
The Rare Rosé Millésime 2007 was ceremoniously presented to accompaniment of string music.
Keeping wine cool
Decanter.com asked Camus how the team maintained the correct serving temperature on such a hot summer night. It was 30°C in central Paris.
‘I have given instructions for the wine to be served in smaller amounts, but topped up often – in this way we can preserve the freshness,’ said Camus.
‘Also we have kept the wine cooler, at around 6° rather than the usual 8°-10° to allow for the heat.’
Forget the flutes
Camus was also keen to give his verdict on the debate over Champagne flutes.
He’s broadly against, but he said people should think about the age of the wine, too.
‘I worked with Riedel to design glasses especially for the Rare Rosé, they are halfway between a wine glass and flute. I have widened them in the middle and given a more rounded shape, but kept the flute’s length.’
He added, ‘This is because the Champagne is still young. In 10 years when it has matured, it will be better to serve it in a wine glass at a lower temperature, to express the spicier complex flavours.’
See the menu for the launch night:
The 2016 Champagne harvest
Looking forwards to the year ahead, Decanter.com asked how the 2016 harvest was looking and Camus grimaced.
‘Next question, s’il vous plait.’
He added, ‘It’s going to be very difficult, the grapes are very small.
‘There was frost at the end of April and lots of rain in May, June and July as well. Since 15 August we have had fine weather. We need the sun, and if there is a cold snap it could be a disaster.’
Piper-Heidsieck Rare Rosé 2007 will be available in the UK from mid-October at Hedonism and Harrods for £350.
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