Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Rare Brut Champagne Millésime 2008
In a subtle, joyful effervescence, the intense crystalline golden robe evokes yellow diamonds. The initial nose shines by the pure vivacity of this vintage. As Rare Millésime 2008 gradually warms in the glass, a vast range of orange blossom, hyacinth and white flowers is released. This leads to the delicacy of vanilla blossoms, a touch of fresh coconut, aromas of just ripe Williams pear and fresh almond, enhanced by notes of tangerine and blackcurrant buds. The second nose reveals the saline minerality, abundant and refined, an iodine-smoky harmony and a touch of licorice. On the palate the crispy, precise attack is followed by exuberant aromas of fresh pineapple, freshly cut and crisp, passion fruit, kiwi and coconut, nuanced with tangy citrus notes. These combine with plush springlike flavours with unparalleled length. The finish, with remarkable saline and iodine notes, perpetuates the journey into an endless spring.
Like a stallion out of the gate, this shows an initial explosion of power, in the form of mouthwatering flavors and fine texture, before quickly settling into an elegant gait. The racy acidity is seamlessly knit, buoying the lacy mousse and flavors of cassis, toasted brioche and tangerine, with accents of candied ginger, hazelnut and fleur de sel lingering on the long, creamy finish.
A gorgeous, yet tight, backward vintage for this cuvée, the 2008 Champagne Rare is based on 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir with around 10 grams of dosage. Beautiful crisp citrus and stone fruits as well as flinty minerality and just hint of brioche emerge from the glass, and it takes hours for this to really unwind and show its potential. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it has bright acidity, terrific concentration, and a great finish. I wouldn't think about opening another bottle for a solid 5-7 years, but it should have 30 years or more of ultimate longevity.
The newly released 2008 Brut Cuvée Rare is very promising, unwinding in the glass with a youthfully reserved nose of citrus oil, crisp green apple, freshly baked bread, iodine and oyster shell, as well as some rather herbaceous characteristics that depress my score a little, even if I suspect that they will resolve with a bit more bottle age. Medium to full-bodied, incisive and tightly wound, if the 2006 vintage was gourmand and demonstrative, the 2008 is slower to show all its cards. Built around racy acids and complemented by a pillowy mousse, this rendition of Cuvée Rare will reward a few years more on cork.