The magic of Champagnes is that they are undeniably festive, yet Rare from the Champagne House Piper-Heidsieck steps it up one notch at restaurant De Rozario. Piper-Heidsieck Rare is indeed a unique prestige cuvée.
Coming from Amsterdam, Helmond in the South of Holland may look far, but on a grey, drizzly afternoon it is to restaurant De Rozario Winejus traveled for a Rare champagne tasting lunch. It turned out to be a memorable lunch. Highlight was the launch of the long-awaited Rare Millésime 2013 by Dominique Climasander, the International Brand Ambassador of Piper-Heidsieck.
If you get the real thing, it takes no effort at all to appreciate the champagnes from Piper-Heidsieck paired with the modern, noteworthy dishes of Michelin star chef Jermain de Rozario. And, with flamboyant sommelier Edgaras Razminas (named sommelier of the year 2021 by Michelin) anything is possible during service.
The story behind the unique cuvée Rare of Piper-Heidsieck
In the summer of 1976, France was hit by an unprecedented heat wave, one the Champagne region had never experienced before. The year started with a cold winter and spring, followed by an extremely hot, dry summer with thunderstorms and a windy, cold autumn. The harvest took place late, in October. Piper-Heidsieck’s winemaking team wondered whether it would be possible to create a Millésime cuvée under these remarkable circumstances. Millésime indicates the vintage or harvest year of the grapes. Following the assembly of the different base wines and after bottling, the team was so proud of the end product that they called it Piper-Heidsieck Rare. In 2019, the name became simply Rare. According to Émilien Boutillat, Chefs de Caves of Rare Champagne, the aim is “to make the best possible wine in limited quantities and only in special and exceptional vintages”. Hence the name Rare.
Rare Champagne Chef de Caves Émilien Boutillat
French champagne house Piper-Heidsieck has produced extraordinary champagnes since 1785. Piper-Heidsieck is renowned for its unique blends made of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. The new chef de cave Émilien Boutillat joins Piper-Heidsieck in October 2018, replacing the famous Régis Camus, his predecessor on the Rare Champagne project. He gets noticed pretty quickly. In 2021 Émilien was named ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ by the International Wine Challenge (IWC), the world’s most prestigious wine competition. It did not stop there. In 2023 the IWC awarded Boutillat again as ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’, this time as chef de caves for Rare Champagne. Piper-Heidsieck also won the award for ‘Best Wine of the Year 2023’ for the Rare Millésime 2008.
Émilien Boutillat comes from the Champagne region, his family has been growing grapes there since 1765. Émilien has also gained a lot of international experience as a ‘flying winemaker’. His experiences demonstrate a pioneering spirit and the desire to continue to improve winemaking through sustainable viticulture. This striving for sustainability is reflected in extensive certifications, such as the VDC (Viticulture Durable de Champagne), HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale) and the B-Corp certification from Piper-Heidsieck.
The 2013 is the 13th vintage for Rare since 1976
Chardonnay, as always, makes up 70% of the blend, with 30% of Pinot Noir coming from the more traditional sources of Verzy, Ambonnay, Verzenay, Bouzy and Tauxières. Crucial, for the final blend, is the addition of a large proportion of Chardonnay from the northern villages of the Côte des Blancs, from Villers-Marmery and from the lesser-known (premier cru) village Vaudemanges. In terms of the vintage, it is precisely because of the changeable weather of 2013 that Rare 2013 has a beautiful character. Clear, light gold champagne with subtle notes of white flowers, citrus, kumquat, apple, black tea, kiwi and pineapple, fresh croissant dough, and a hint of honeysuckle in the background. Fantastic balance and freshness, supple texture and a pleasant, fine mousse. Rare has a dosage of 9 g/l, which fits well with the style of this Champagne. Rare 2013 can be stored for years, with a ripening potential until 2040.
The wine-food pairing consisted of no less than six Piper-Heidsieck Champagnes
- Piper-Heidsieck Extra Brut Essentiel. Notes of plum, brioche, grapefruit and quince. Round and structured, the extended finish goes to more honey and white almond notes. Dosage: 6g/l.
- Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel Blanc de Blancs. 100% Chardonnay. Complex and structured, elegant fruit, notes of raisins, yellow plums and pear, and a subtle salty touch. Dosage: 4 g/l.
- Piper-Heidsieck French Riviera. Created in 2006, the Piper On Ice ritual is an ode to the art de vivre in southern France. Fresh, with orange blossoms on the nose and a beautiful pear and juicy pink apple flavour. Dosage: demi-sec 35g/l.
- Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Vintage Brut 2014. The Brut Vintage 2014 develops in the glass with notes of juicy pears, citrus, freshly baked oatbread, lemon, and a hint of flint. The palate shows a chalky texture, juicy white fruit, and an elegant mousse. Dosage: 7 g/l.
- Rare Millésime 2013
- Rare Millésime 2008, the unexpected, extra Champagne. On the nose: infinitely floral and wet stones minerality with a hint of salt or iodine, citrus freshness and oven-baked bread. Rich and complex taste. Dosage: 9g/l.
Michelin star restaurant De Rozario Piper-Heidsieck champagne lunch
The accompanying culinary dishes were prepared by Jermain de Rozario. De Rozario makes contemporary dishes with an Asian twist. Taste and flavour intensity, the power of flavour are essential to Jermain. Great cooking comes from the heart and soul. Jermain’s dishes show an enormous respect and love for the country of his Javanese grandmother, Indonesia. There is no doubt that Jermain’s cooking takes you back to your memory of Indonesian smells and flavours. Jermain hints that he would love to travel to gain inspiration. “I don’t know yet everything. There is still so much to learn.” He wants to make his own flavour combinations and his own choices, even if they do not fit in with what people expect of a Michelin-star restaurant. Likewise unexpected is the sometimes bright graffiti art on the wall. However, this also spells out what the essence of restaurant De Rozario is. Beautiful dishes, in which the chef’s personality is not only unmistakably present but also his emotions (heart) and memories (soul). Not an easy task, but Jermain does it surprisingly well. The dishes that stood out for Winejus were the steak tartare, wagyo and the rendang with coconut, lemongrass and mango ice cream. The rendang combined with the demi-sec Piper Heidsieck Champagne French Riviera was a surprising combination, but I had still had some Rare 2008 in my glass, which I preferred even more.
Menu De Rozario in combination with Piper-Heidsieck Champagne
The various appetizers Pecel bonbon / Topinambumbu / Shellfish / Mama’s chicken / satay / bao, combined well with the dry style of the Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel Extra Brut.
Beautiful dish of picalilly ice cream / oyster leaf / sesame ‘kletskop’ / vinaigrette of roasted peppers in combination with Rare Millésime 2008.
A classic dish with softer flavors and citrus twist, made from pumpkin / orange / beurre blanc vadouvan. The turbot and the Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel Blancs de Blancs were a good match together.
The rendang, made from coconut and sereh / mango ice cream / enoki / pandan oil, is a course I would definitely come back for. It paired surprisingly well with Piper-Heidsieck French Riviera.
Wagyu / Oyster
Beautiful dish of Wagyu beef, with a rich, buttery and umami-like undertone, further enhanced by the miso eggplant / mushroom / perkedel / gravy from Pedro Ximénez and BBQ. Excellent combi with the long-matured Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2014.