Tasting and Drinking Vintage Rosé Champagne

This is part two of the Rosé Champagne tasting and lunch for the Wine Media Guild hosted by Ed McCarthy.

Vintage Rose Champagnes

Ed said that Rosé Champagne has a long history. Clicquot was already making Rosé Champagne in 1777. Less than 6% of the Champagne made today is Rosè but 15% of the Champagne sold in the U.S. is Rosé. Most Champagne firms today produce at least one Rosé. Many produce two, a non-vintage or vintage and a prestige cuvee, usually vintage

Christina Jacobs from Moët & Chandon

Rosé is a little more-full bodied than other Champagnes because of the addition of Pinot Noir, and therefore it goes well with food. Ed added that Rose champagnes are usually the best to have with dinner, even with meat. These are dry wines and should not be drunk with dessert.

Here are the vintage Rosé Champagnes along with two non-vintage ones which Ed believed are bold enough to be tasted with the vintage Champagne.

Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2011 NV 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage, there is no malolactic fermentation. The sangée method is used following skin contact, which lasts 5 to 8 days in the liquid phase. The wine ages for an average of 4 years and remains in the cellar and another 6 months after disgorging to complete its maturity. Dosage varies between 8 to 10 g/l depending on the vintage. There are citrus aromas and hints of strawberry and peach. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and I was told that it was typical of the Roederer Rosé.   $65

Bollinger Brut Rosè NV 62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Meunier. There is an addition of 5% red wine and 85% of the grapes come from Grand Cru and Premiers Cru vineyards. The wine is aged for more than twice the time required by the appellation.  This wine has more body, Ed said, because of the percentage of Pinot Noir. It has aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries, cherries and a hint of sweet spice. Dosage 7/8 g/l $50

Moët & Chandon Extra Brut Rosé 2009 made from 59% Pinot noir of which 19% is red wine, 30% Chardonnay and 11% Meunier. The percentage of Pinot Noir has not been this high since 1996. Aged for 7 years in the cellars. The dosage is 5g/l. The wine ages for a minimum of 6 months after disgorgement. The wine has hints of strawberries, raspberries, current and a touch of rhubarb and violet. $60  This is one of the wines I had with lunch and it works very well with food.

Charles Heidsieck “Rosé Reserve” Brut NV made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  They purchase grapes from about 120 of the 323 crus, which make up the Champagne appellation each year to blend their Champagne. The wine is aged for a minimum of three years. They have only been making Rosé for a few years. Ed called this a great champagne and thinks they should get more recognition.  $65  One of Ed’s top 3

Pol Roger “Extra Cuvèe De Reserve” Brut 2008 is based on their Brut Vintage, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Before bottling and second fermentation about 15% still red wine (Pinot Noir) from the best crus of the Montagne de Reims is added. Dosage 9g/L. The wine is aged 7 years in the cellar before release. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with hints of blood oranges and red fruit berries. $110

Perrier Jouët Cuvee Belle Epoque Rosé 2006. After vinification the wine is preserved separately, cru by cru, until blending. Chardonnay from the Grand Crus Cramant and Avize dominate the blend. The Pinot Noir comes from the Grand Crus Marlly and Verze. Still red wine makes up 9% of the blend. The wine is aged for 6 years before release.  This is one of the most expensive Champagnes and in my opinion may be worth the money. It is an elegant full-bodied wine with great fruit and hints of strawberries and raspberries and a lot more going on. $300. One of Ed’s favorites

Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rosé Brut 2006 The Comtes Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir from Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the most renowned vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs, and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Rheims. Only juice from the first pressing is used in order to ensure the structure and long aging potential that is so essential to this exceptional Champagne. 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as still red wine. This is an elegant and complex Champagne with hints of strawberry, cherry, currants and a touch of roasted almonds. $200 One of Ed’s favorites and mine. Needs time- -will last for 15 years or more.

Moët & Chandon Champagne Dom Ruinart Rosé 2009 The blend was made by using 81% Grand Cru Chardonnay, 69% of which comes from the Cötes des Blancs (Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger) and 31% from the Montagne de Rheims (Puisieulx, Sillery), with the addition of 19% Pinot Noir made into red wine, coming only from the Sillery cru. Manual harvest. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats (18 to 20C). Malolactic fermentation takes place. Dosage 4.5g/l
Ruinart was founded in 1729 in Rheims making it the oldest Champagne House.
This is an elegant rosé with a light pink color. It is slightly aromatic with hints of raspberry, currants, strawberry and a note of red roses. It is a rosé that goes with many different foods $240. This was one of Ed’s top 3.

Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame Rosé 2006 made from a blend of eight classic grand crus: Ay, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy and Verzenay for the Pinot Noir 53% and for the Chardonnay 47% from Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The wine has very thin bubbles with hints of red fruit and toasted notes. This is Champagne that should be drunk with food. $300. One of Ed’s favorites.






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