Tue 4 Jan 2011
It’s a bit disconcerting to see marketing nicknames on the labels of a real Champagne made in the, you know, actual region of Champagne. Not that making and selling Champagne isn’t a business; of course marketing is called for, as in any other business. And of course there’s not a thing wrong with indicating the different types of Champagne you make with different colored capsules; that makes sense. To call the product by that color on the label, however, seems a trifle crass. I’m referring to the Heidsieck & Co. Monopole “Blue Top” Brut. One wonders if the marketing people behind this scheme hope that “Blue Top” will become a by-word, as in a guy sidles up to the bar and sings out, “Barkeep, pour me a slender flute of Blue Top!” And the bartender sings back, “Need a pop? Try Blue Top!” (My model is: “What’s the word? Thunderbird!”) Heidsieck Monopole also has a “Silver Top” (Brut Reserve), “Rose Top” (Brut Rosé), “Green Top” (Demi Sec), “Red Top” (Sec) and “Gold Top” (Vintage Brut).
Heidsieck & Co Monopole, Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck all trace their origins to Florens-Louis Heidsieck, who established the company in 1785. I won’t delve into the multi-tangled history of the three houses and how they became separated by reasons of birth and marriage and other familial and non-familial relationships. It’s sufficient to say that Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck are owned by Remy-Cointreau, while Heidsieck & Co. Monopole is owned by Vranken Pommery.
So, to the bottle in question.
I was skeptical, but gradually Heidsieck Monopole “Blue Top” Brut won me over. Pinot noir is the backbone of this house; the composition here is 70 percent pinot noir, 20 percent chardonnay and 10 percent pinot meunier. We’re not talking about utter refinement or elegance in this Champagne; rather, it makes its point by assertive substance and presence. The color is pale gold; seemingly billions of teeny-tiny bubbles course upward in a twisting fountain. The effect of “Blue Top” is very toasty and yeasty, and the bouquet offers notes of pears and roasted lemon, almond peel and almond blossom and a winsome note of honeysuckle and hazelnuts. Minerality comes right up behind, and in the mouth this crisp, dry Champagne practically balloons with crystalline acidity, rampant limestone and chalk and immense reserves of spice, as in spiced citrus flavors, spice cake and a final touch of grapefruit baked with brown sugar and cloves. No, this is not some shivery, silvery, ultra-blond sophisticate, but the sense of dynamism and earthiness that “Blue Top” conveys is definitely fun. Excellent. About $40 in my town but down-priced from $25 to $35 in cities all over our great nation.
Imported by Vranken Pommery America, New York. Tried once at a retailer’s tasting and once from a sample for review (not from the importer).