QUESTION: Hi, I have a bottle of Charles Heidsieck champagne brut reserve which i would like to know more about as i cant find a picture of it anywhere although i have seen one on the web which was 24" tall, mine is 12". The top is sealed with wire and gold foil and has brut champagne with a picture of a man and initials CH intertwined. The thing i havn't seen is the middle label which is gold and sits diagonally, it simply says brut reserve with signature charles heidsieck. The main bottom label is gold with red writing Charles Heidseick, black writing champagne, red writing Reims France, produce of france, elabore par charles heidseick s.a.reims, black writing brut reserve, e75cl 750ml, alcohol 12% by volume.gold label on back saying over 100 wines make this and its kept in chalk cellars etc. 75mm pressed into bottom also CH. I seem to remember seeing a receipt for this about 30 years but cant remember details and think it was bought from an airport as my uncle was a pilot! I would be most grateful if you could tell me it's age, if its worth anything and if it's safe to drink and anything else you can think of. yours etc
ANSWER: Hi Brian,
This bottle is in remarkably good condition for one 30 years old so I'd have no hesitation opening it on a suitable occasion as old Champagnes can be delightful.
Otherwise there's not much to add to the information you have from the label, except perhaps that many producers enhance their presentations on bottles intended for the airport duty-free market to attract gift seekers, so that may be the reason for the extra sticker.
There's no way to date non-vintage wines like this precisely but it must have been bottled after 1st January 1980, when EU rules mandated the declaration of alcohol content by an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) figure instead of the old Sykes method that quoted notional Degrees Proof.
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QUESTION: Hi David, I would have liked an approximate value of the bottle of champagne which I did ask for in my initial question but I now realize that I didn't put forward my place of residence for which I apologize. I live in the Orkney Isles, of the North coast of Scotland and I believe the bottle was bought at Glasgow or perhaps Aberdeen Airport and may have cost £30 back in the 80s but I cant be certain on that! I cant seem to get a decent photo but its in VG condition.
Your suggestion of a £30 purchase price at an airport gift counter in the 80's sounds realistic and is about what you'd have to pay for a replacement today, plus delivery costs, as NV Champagnes don't appreciate.
Your bottle looks fine but it would need physical appraisal by a professional to confirm that.
I don't know of any specialist appraisers in the Orkneys but you could ask Bid for Wine (http://www.bidforwine.co.uk/
) for their opinion of this bottle as a potential entry into their on-line auction system - but I'd drink it and toast your uncle!