Thanks to a special museum release, the last vintage of Charles Heidsieck’s highly coveted Champagne Charlie, the 1985, is about to be resurrected like the proverbial phoenix – as part of a remarkable series of five of the house’s rare champagnes. Only in this case, the 1985 Champagne Charlie is not rising from the ashes but rather from Charles Heidsieck’s second-century, subterranean Gallo-Roman chalk cellars, Les Crayères, where the much-loved Prestige Cuvée has lain dormant for 37 years.
Selected by Charles Heidsieck’s talented chief winemaker, Cyril Brun, La Collection Crayères is to be auctioned at Christie’s on December 7 in London and on December 8 and 9 in New York. To the delight of champagne connoisseurs in general and Champagne Charlie fans in particular, La Collection Crayères will include not just one, but two great vintages of Champagne Charlie, one in magnum. The collection consists of: Royale 1981; Champagne Charlie 1982 magnums; 1983 Vintage Brut in magnums; Champagne Charlie 1985; and Rosé 1985.
Champagne Charlie is one of the great darlings of champagne aficionados for a number of reasons. It’s named after the house’s flamboyant founder, Charles-Camille Heidsieck, who was the toast of American high society until charged with spying and jailed by unionists during the American civil war. The name was revived by the brilliant winemaker Daniel Thibault, who made five vintages before his death in 2002. Sadly, Charlie was discontinued when Rémy Cointreau, which had Krug in its portfolio, bought the company in 1985.
The Collection Crayères comprises a fraction of a total of 544 bottles and magnums from the Charles Heidsieck oenothèque to go under the hammer. The sales will include all five vintages of Champagne Charlie, from 1979 (the first vintage) to 1985 (the last), along with the 1981, 1983 and 1990 Blanc des Millénaires, the historic Cuvée Royale from 1966 and 1975, and 12 jeroboams of the incomparable Millésime 1989 vintage. Charles Heidsieck’s main markets will also have an allocation of La Collection Crayères, and in the UK, it is likely to be available from Fortnum & Mason, The Finest Bubble and Hedonism Wines.
This deep release is part of a process that started in 2012 when Charles Heidsieck and sister house Piper-Heidsieck got their mojo back after joining the dynamic luxury goods group belonging to the Descours family. A second Collection Crayères, most likely a vertical of the house’s all-chardonnay Blanc des Millénaires, is to be released next year after the launch of the 2004.