France, Champagne, Rosé Champagnes

Jun 1, 2007
2007 / June 2007

When raising a toast this month — be it for a wedding, graduation, new deal or new job — think pink. That’s pink as in rosé Champagne. Just as sparkling and dry as golden Champagne, rosé Champagne offers an extra dimension—the fruitiness that comes from some Pinot Noir red wine.

It is the red wine that also gives rosé Champagne its alluring color. Before sealing the bottle for its second fermentation (in which Champagne develops its bubbles), about 12 to 15 percent of “still” (non-sparkling) Pinot Noir is added to the new golden wine. The exact amount is whatever is necessary to reach the winemaker’s desired rosé shade: from light to dark pink, to topaz, copper, even salmon.

Virtually every Champagne house produces at least one rosé, either as a vintage Champagne, a non-vintage or a prestige cuvée. Among lighter-bodied rosé Champagnes, particularly enjoy Laurent-Perrier “Cuvée Rosé” Brut Non-Vintage — a bright, delicious, charming, lively and beautifully made wine. Henriot Brut Rosé is fragrant and elegant with very fine, tiny bubbles. Other lighter-bodied rosé Champagnes that I am always happy to drink are the stylish wines of Dom Ruinart and Perrier-Jouét.

Among the medium-bodied rosé Champagnes, one of my longtime favorites continues to delight. Taittinger “Cuvée Prestige” Brut Rosé Non-Vintage is elegant, lovely — simply gorgeous. Also worthy of praise is Gosset Grand Rosé Brut, Non-Vintage.

A full-bodied rosé, Nicolas Feuillatte “Cuvée Palmes d’Or” Rosé Brut 1996 is stunning — creamy, focused, well-balanced and vibrant, and at 11 years old, still fresh and fruity. Also outstanding among full-bodied rosés is Pol Roger Brut Rosé 1999 — bright, toasty and brimming with character. Both of these Champagnes have such excellent structure, they can easilycomplement meat courses.

The rosé Champagnes I’ve mentioned range from $44 to $60 for nonvintage, from $86 to $190 for vintage versions. That’s a small price to payfor a sparkling drink that looks as enticing as it tastes, and whose very essence seems to say it all: Cheers! Congratulations! Best Wishes! Nice Going! Bravo!

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