Product of the week: Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Essentiel NV

Categories: Product of the week

A dry, mineral champagne that pairs perfectly with oysters

“Champagne and oysters both strongly express their place of origin,” says Emilien Boutillat, chef de cave at champagne house Piper-Heidsieck—it makes sense, then, that Wright Brothers should be discerning when it comes to the sourcing of both. With their oysters, that means carefully selecting suppliers for both quality of produce and environmental credentials, in line with the Slow Food principles of ‘good, clean and fair’; when it came to finding a partner to create their own champagne, the same level of care and attention was non-negotiable.

“We are very picky about who we do our collaborations with, but I had an existing relationship with Piper-Heidsieck before approaching them and they’ve been doing it since 1785—they are one of the oldest and best champagne houses,” says Wright Brothers beverage manager Ivan Ruiz. “We have a shared vision of sustainability and excellence,” adds Emilien. Piper-Heidsieck’s commitment to minimising its environmental impact is equally rigorous—indeed, the champagne house is Viticulture Durable en Champagne accredited, meaning it avoids insecticides, fertiliser usage is limited, and there is a clear commitment to good soil management.

Lean and mineral
Perfect partnership established, the next (and most important) task was to create a champagne blend that matched the Wright Brothers menu. “It was a long process. We ate so much seafood!” Ivan laughs. “We had an exact flavour profile in mind and—obviously—it needed to work well with shellfish and fish, but particularly oysters. Champagne houses tend to add a lot of sugar to make champagne work with heavier foods, but this is very dry, with an acidity that makes it very refreshing. It has a lean and mineral quality, which brings out the minerality of the oysters.”

With notes of acacia flowers, pear, toast and lemon zest on the nose and flavours of pink grapefruit, “it’s perfect for this time of year,” says Ivan. “We’re very happy with how it’s turned out. I like it with Morecambe Bay oysters in particular—served fresh, raw and unadulterated with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Essentiel NV, it is the perfect match.”