Mark Twain once said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” More than a century later, Americans are doing their part to make rosé Champagne the drink that is just right. Last year, the United States pulled the cork on 3 million bottles of rosé Champagne, raising the pink bubbly to 16.2 percent of all Champagne shipped to this country.
That’s a major step up from about 20 years ago when rosé Champagne was an afterthought, accounting for less than 5 percent of shipments. Then, most of the bottles were sweet. Today, nearly every Champagne house makes a brut (dry) rosé.
All Champagnes are produced from wine made of one, two or three grapes: the white Chardonnay, the red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Most rosé Champagne features a blend of Pinot Noir and one or two of the other wines, while some rosé is made totally of Pinot Noir. Whatever the blend, rosé’s final color can range from pale orange to pink to rosy coral.
Non-vintage rosé Champagne generally costs more than white non-vintage Champagne, while vintage rosé costs about the same as other vintage Champagne. The prices I list here are approximate and will vary around the country.
I recently tasted 13 rosé Champagnes at Brasserie in New York City and found one beauty after another. For example, Ruinart Brut Rosé, a non-vintage blend of 55 percent Pinot Noir and the rest Chardonnay, imparts the color of a rose petal: a fruity, elegant Champagne ($75). The nonvintage Henriot Brut Rosé, made totally of Pinot Noir, offers a full, crisp, delightful bubbly ($65). Gosset Grand Rosé, a non-vintage made by a small, old Champagne house, blends about 55 percent Chardonnay with Pinot Noir for a pale, rich, pink-shaded wine with delicious fruit flavors ($75). G.H. Mumm Le Rosé, non-vintage, is crisp with lively bubbles ($70).
I found the Louis Roederer Rosé 2008 subtle, pale and fine-textured ($76). Pol Roger Extra Cuvée de Réserve Rosé Brut 2006, 60 percent Pinot Noir, is a big-bodied, sturdy Champagne ($110). Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut 2005 is golden-pink, vibrant, deep-flavored and round, the oldest Champagne of the tasting and still splendid.
So here’s to rosé Champagne and to your health and pleasure.
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