Whether you call it champagne rosé or pink champagne, celebration and delight are promised in its name!
The NCSGI Blogger team came across this great article written by Sally Hillman and she has given us consent to publish it on our site for our readers to enjoy!
The summer of festivities is in full swing, and it’s one we all deserve. The holidays do their best to gently warp our sense of time, stretching days into nights of languid warmth and spirited conversation as long BBQ lunches and balmy dinner banquets become reference points, anchoring our days in place and time. In the unhurried, leisurely daze of summer, the only question of importance becomes, ‘What shall we eat?’, followed closely by ‘Now, what shall we drink?’.
Native to the festive season, champagne rosé will more than likely rise to your internal call-and-response. Channelling the colour of celebration, champagne rosés span the full spectrum of glowy red hues—from the softest, blush pink to salmon and crimson—its supple, smooth mouthfeel pairing perfectly with holiday fare such as ham, turkey, all manner of crustaceans, salmon and light berry-based desserts.
But it’s also more than just a summer fling: champagne rosé also finds rhythm with gourmand ingredients all year round, its fruit-forward elegance and subtle tannic grip marrying wonderfully with the rich, hearty dishes that beckon from autumn through to winter.
Defying categorisation, champagne rosés are prized for their versatility and inherent freshness, thanks to the myriad of styles (varying in aroma, acidity, sweetness and texture) that can be created depending on the combination of fruit and the nature of elaboration and vinification.
The most popular technique for making champagne rosé is the assemblage method (rosé d’assemblage). Crafted from the seven permitted grape varieties in Champagne, still red and white wines are blended together to create a base wine before it undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle to create the magical effervescence. Champagne is the only appellation in France legally permitted to blend red and white wines together, marking champagne rosés made in this fashion a fascinating and delicious anomaly. The amount of red wine added (Pinot noir or Meunier) ranges from 5% to 20%, producing cuvées with delicate aromas, natural texture and a gentle pink hue with orange highlights.
The second technique for making champagne rosé is the saignée method (rosé de saignée). Translating to ‘bleeding’, the saignée process involves the brief maceration of uncrushed black grape varietals whereby the juice of the grapes is partially infused with their skins to increase the colour, aroma and texture of the resulting champagne rosé. Technically a subset of the process for making red wines, the pigmented juice is then siphoned off for alcoholic fermentation, leaving the remainder for the production of Coteaux Champenois (the dedicated appellation for still wine in Champagne). Champagne rosés produced using the saignée method tend to be rich and vinous, with intense colour and red berry flavour profiles.
Moreover, the dynamism and complexity of champagne rosés can be boosted by combining both techniques—assemblage and saignée— in the winemaking process! Innovative grower-producers, such as Nicolas Maillart, JM Sélèque and Laherte Frères, are known to diligently practise both methods, carefully balancing and blending wines from both methods to produce unique, expressive champagne rosés that are in a league of their own. Taking it further still, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave at Louis Roederer, creates the House’s vintage champagne rosé by adding Chardonnay juice to the Pinot noir maceration, achieving greater integration of the two grape varieties before fermentation even begins!
For those wanting to step off the beaten track and explore new, exciting destinations in the realm of champagne rosé, we have curated a list of recommendations below, showcasing the most distinctive and approachable alternatives to enjoy and savour at present.
And so, as you settle into the sultry lull of the afternoon when the soothing heat of summer shifts and slows, right before you drift into a softly swinging, hammocked siesta after pondering food and champagne pairings for the evening’s sundown soirée, we encourage you to reach beyond the familiar and try something different. You just might find a new favourite in the enigmatic world of grower-producer champagne rosé, at a fraction of the Grande Marque price tag.
After all, a champagne rosé by any other name would smell as sweet and taste just as delicious!
INSTEAD OF: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV [RRP $140]
TRY: Chartogne-Taillet Brut Le Rosé NV [RRP $130]
For the traditionalists.
A comparable blend of Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Meunier with the addition of Coteaux Champenois rouge (still red wine) vinified from renowned plots, Le Rosé is a fruity and savoury champagne rosé with a luxurious mouthfeel. Rich and refreshing, it is ideal as an aperitif or paired with hearty foods. An exception among the Chartogne-Taillet range, Le Rosé requires more varied oenological work than their single-vineyard champagnes: blending is carefully undertaken to ensure a champagne rosé that is consistently balanced and finessed without excessive opulence, fruitiness or tannicity.
INSTEAD OF: Veuve Clicquot Rosé NV [RRP $100]
TRY: Pierre Gerbais Grains de Celles Rosé NV [RRP $115]
For the modernists.
Cleverly swapping out Meunier for Pinot blanc—a rare, heirloom white grape varietal pioneered by Champagne Pierre Gerbais in the Côte des Bar after World War II—Grains de Celles Rosé is an invigorating champagne rosé, elegantly revealing her terroir in freshness of fruit and fragrance. Comprising an exact representation of the Domaine’s holdings today (50% Pinot noir, 25% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot blanc), the addition of still Pinot noir wine before secondary fermentation produces this vibrant, refreshing and accessible champagne rosé. A humbling, eye-opening experience for adventurers taking the roads less travelled.
INSTEAD OF: Ruinart Rosé NV [RRP $180]
TRY: Nicolas Maillart Brut Rosé NV [RRP $130]
For admirers of qualitative champagne rosé.
Similar in composition to Ruinart’s Rosé but with the notable exception of using the saignéemethod, Brut Rosé is Nicolas Maillart’s flagship champagne rosé, comprising Pinot noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%) cultivated exclusively from the Grand Cru village of Bouzy.
A fascinating champagne rosé blend, Pinot noir is prepared by first macerating its juice on its skins for 52 hours. The addition of still Pinot noir wine (7%) and reserve wines also boosts the aromatic complexity and textural richness of this robust, though fabulously fresh, champagne rosé.
INSTEAD OF: Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Impérial NV [RRP $100]
TRY: André Clouet Rosé No. 3 NV [RRP $105]
For lovers of champagne rosé with Pinot noir inflections.
Composed of 100% Pinot noir from the Grand Cru villages of Bouzy and Ambonnay in the Grande Montagne de Reims (Pinot noir’s spiritual homeland in Champagne), Rosé No. 3 NV is an enticing champagne rosé inspired by Coco Chanel’s iconic perfume. Each release is designated a number to denote the variations in colour and style that occur with each vintage—here, No. 3 marks a light, fresh and elegant aperitif-style champagne rosé.
Rosé No. 3 is produced with 50% of the current vintage and 50% reserve wine from a solera of 10 vintages, and 10%–15% of the champagne rosé comprises still red wine from Bouzy. The result: a well-structured and focused champagne rosé that yields a generosity of Pinot noir character, a gorgeous hue and a fine, bright finish.
INSTEAD OF: Bollinger Rosé NV [RRP $147]
TRY: JM Sélèque Solessence Rosé NV [RRP $125]
For all occasions and cuisines.
Gastronomic magnificence defines the latest release of Solessence Rosé—stamped with intense minerality lending textural complexity and nuance, and imbued with red fruit and savoury notes derived from precise winemaking—making this the ideal champagne rosé to serve at the table.
Comprising 45% Chardonnay, 40% Meunier and 15% Pinot noir, Solessence Rosé is based on a single vintage blended with 40% reserve wine. Its colour and texture has two different sources: 10% skin-contact Meunier and 5% Coteaux Champenois from Pinot noir, with all fruit sourced from seven villages across the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay (Pierry, Moussy and Épernay), the Vallée de la Marne (Mardeuil, Dizy and Boursault) and the Côte des Blancs (Vertus).
Incredibly food friendly, Solessence Rosé is a superstar in its own right.
INSTEAD OF: Billecart-Salmon Elisabeth Salmon Brut Rosé 2008 [RRP $380]
TRY: Louis Roederer Rosé 2014 [RRP $165]
For now and for later.
A true contender for value, Louis Roederer’s Rosé 2014 is an absolute steal at less than half the cost of Billecart’s vintage rosé. In fact, you’d be forgiven for indulging in more than one bottle: for immediate enjoyment now and for reaping the benefits of its enormous cellaring potential later.
Despite their Grande Marque scale, Louis Roederer retains the spirit of grower-producer winemaking. Jean-Baptiste tends to an astonishing 410 parcels in the Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages of the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. These plots, no further west than Cumières (where the soil becomes too heavy with clay), reflect the House’s desire to always taste chalk in their wines. The separate pressing and vinification of each parcel allows a greater clarity and expression of the diverse terroir. The absence—or very minimal use—of malolactic fermentation in the cuvées further supports this precision in flavour.
Rosé 2014 comprises 63% Pinot noir and 37% Chardonnay cropped from 35 small Estate plots encompassing the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs, respectively. Adopting a unique method for creating champagne rosé, Jean-Baptiste macerates Pinot noir with a small amount of Chardonnay for a long, gentle infusion to achieve the perfect integration of both grape varieties before fermentation even begins.
This summer, and all year long, we invite you to slow down and smell, sip, swirl and savour the champagne rosé. We’ll be right there with you.
Peruse our champagne rosé recommendations in Le Shop.
Sally Hillman – Celebrating Champagne is one of Australia’s leading online retailers of fine champagne, Lehmann glassware and champagne gifts for corporate & special occasions. They have also become well known for creating bespoke champagne experiences and virtual tastings.
Specialising in the flourishing world of boutique grower-producer champagne, Sally Hillman Founder and Principal is personally available to guide you on your journey of discovering the irresistible magic and sophistication of champagne.