The Grand Return of Champagne Charlie

The Grand Return of Champagne Charlie

For the first time in 37 years, the iconic Champagne Charles Heidsieck has revealed a new iteration of its acclaimed cuvée Champagne Charlie. To celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Champagne Charlie himself, aka Charles-Camille Heidsieck, this is the sixth ever release of the most premium expression of the Maison.

The story of Charles-Camille Heidsieck is incredibly inspiring and something out of a movie - literally, the film and media industry have taken every opportunity to retell the life of Champagne Charlie. After setting up his Champagne House in 1851, Heidsieck decided to look towards the prosperous American market, which until then, had been left relatively untouched by Champagne. During his pioneering trips to the US, Heidsieck, his wines and dapper personality charmed the country’s wealthy. Quickly earning him the now famous moniker, ‘Champagne Charlie’.

'Champagne Charlie' Monsieur Charles-Camille Heidsieck

However, the American Civil War destroyed all Heidsieck’s progress and success. He lost all his champagne stock. He lost his business. He foolishly decided to travel around America trying to recover his lost champagne and payments. And he was accused of being a spy for the American Confederacy! Yes, you heard that right. The once free-spirited and smooth-talking Monsieur Charles Heidsieck was now charged and imprisoned for being a ‘spy’. He was saved only by the diplomatic intervention of Napoleon III and Abraham Lincoln.

Returning to France, Heidsieck was a poor man. In comes the ‘Denver Miracle’ to save the day and revive his now dead Champagne business. The deal, which paid back his pre-war debts in the form of deeds for land in Colorado, including land we now know as Denver, restarted and launched the Charles Heidsieck empire we see today.

In 1979 the House was challenged to bring to life a champagne that not only honoured their founder, but embodied his very essence. According to the House the “Champagne Charlie legend is intertwined with the soul of a man who bequeathed so many new ideas to his House, and who knew what it was to be an entrepreneur, a gentleman and an innovator”. This champagne represents Hediseick’s spirit of freedom, intuition and adventure.

Sadly, Champagne Charlie only lasted five vintages - 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1985 - and the loss was mourned by champagne lovers, admirers and makers alike. 

Fast-forward 37 years and current Cellar Master Cyril Brun is reviving the long lost Champagne Charlie with a brand new look. Unlike previous versions, the 2022 Champagne Charlie is labelled a multi-vintage expression, comprising close to 98% reserve wines of the past 25 years. 20% of this is Pinot Noir from the 2016 harvest, sourced from Grand Cru plots in Aÿ. The final composition includes a heavenly blend of 48% Pinot Noir and 52% Chardonnay grapes.

After joining the House in 2015, Cyril was asked why he decided to bring back Champagne Charlie after three decades. And why did he embark on such a drastic change from the original? Cyril simply said, “‘We were encouraged to bring it back to life by the historical Champagne Charlie drinkers. But to do so, it was important for me to understand what Champagne Charlie is. What is the message in the bottle? Where does it get its remarkable sensation of youth? To me, the real beauty of Champagne is in multi-vintage. Blending helps to capture freshness and to create an identity that is bigger than the identity of a vintage.’

The 2022 release of Champagne Charlie

2022 Champagne Charlie celebrates the birth and incredible life of the House’s founder. Paying homage to his original American adventures, the first Charlie bottles set sail on the Grain de Sail cargo ship, reaching New York in June - just in time to celebrate the 200th year of Heidsieck’s birth.

The 2022 release of Champagne Charlie is extremely rare, with only 5,500 bottles produced. Australia received an allocation of less than 300 bottles for the entire country. Emperor is proud to share that we are the exclusive online retailer of this uber unique edition. Due to the rarity, we are imposing a TWO BOTTLE limit per customer. Shop Charles Heidsieck ‘Champagne Charlie’ here, while stocks last.

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