Champagne Ed Mc Carthy was at it again talking about his favorite topic, Champagne. This time it was Rosè Champagne for the New York Wine Press at The Brasserie, NYC.
Ed said that Rosè Champagne has a long history. Clicquot was already making a Rosè Champagne in 1777.
Ed Mc Carthy
Less than 6% of the Champagne made today is Rosè but 15% of the Champagne sold in the U.S. is Rosè. Most Champagne firms today produce at least one Rosè. Many produce two, a non-vintage or vintage and a prestige cuvee, usually vintage
Ed explained there are two ways to make Rosè Champagne. For the traditional method, a small amount, about 10 to 15%, of still or regular Pinot Noir is added to the cuvée before the second fermentation. The other method involves skin contact (maceration). The skins of black grapes are pressed slightly and left in contact with the juice to soak or steep until the desired color is achieved. This method is more difficult because the same color must be achieved year after year. Even though the second method seems to be the “purer” one, Ed said in blind tastings no one is ever able to tell the difference in quality between the two methods. Ed added that Rose Champagne is more expensive than traditional Champagne because of the process.
Tasting Rose Champagne
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 Champagnes to have with dinner, even with meat. These are dry wines and should not be drunk with dessert.
The Executive Chef of The Brasserie, Bradley Stelling prepared different dishes to go with each of the four flights of wine. He was on the mark every time!
Hors d’ Oeuvres: Hamachi Crudo, Grapefruit Vinaigrette and Pomegrante, Black Truffle Arancini.
Marion-Bosser Rosé Brut 1st Cru NV made from 55% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Noir still wine. This is one of the few biodynamic houses in Champagne. The winery is on the right bank of the Great Valley of the Marne, against the peaks of the Montagne de Remis. The vineyards are all Premier Cru. The soil is chalk beleminter from the Mesozic era. The wine spends three years on the lees. Ed said this was a delicate and elegant Champagne $55
Ruinart Brut Rosé NV in Magnum made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. About 18% of the Pinot Noir added is still wine. Ed said that the House was founded in 1729 and began shipping Rose Champagne in 1764. It is a light, delicate and elegant Champagne. $100
Lanson Rosé Label Brut Rosé NV in Magnum Composed of 53 percent Pinor Noir, 32 percent Chardonnay and 15 percent Pinot Meunier from more than 50 different vineyards. The Brut Rosé’s rose-colored label highlights the contents of this non-vintage bottling. It has rose petal aromas and flavors of tart strawberry and red currant. The wine is full-bodied and well structured. Ed said they use the best Pinot Noir for their Rosé $110
Seared Foie, Braised Pear and Blood Orange Gastrique
G.H. Mumm “Le Rosé” Brut NV A selection 12% to 14% of red wines from the villages famed for their Pinot Noir such as Bouzy, Verzenay or Riceys on the Cote des Bar. Once the balance is achieved by the addition of reserve wines, the final blend is determined by the addition of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the addition of Pinot Meunier. Ed said he was very impressed by this wine. $50
Henriot Brut Rosé NV The majority of the wine is Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs and some Pinot Meunier. 15 crus are blended together and 25% is reserve wine. Vinified Pinot Noir as a red wine is added to the assemblage. Every time Ed speaks about Henriot he says the same thing — that it is a Champagne house that is underrated. Ed said it is light and elegant with good red fruit aromas and flavors but needed more time. $55
Laurent-Perrier “Cuvèe Rosé” Brut NV 100% Pinot Noir. It is a blend of ten different Grand Cru villages situated mainly in the south and north areas of the Montagne de Reims, including Cote Bouze, from the finest crus of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Louvis and Tours Sur-Maine. The grapes are sorted and destemmed before going in the vats. It is made by the skin contact method, which is rare in Champagne. Controlled maceration lasts from 48 to 72 hours depending on the vintage. It is aged in the cellars for at least 4 years before release. The first vintage was 1968. Ed liked this wine and said it went very well with the food. $ 65
Almond Butter Poached Lobster and Chanterelles
Pascal Doquet Rosé Brut 1st Cru NV made from 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir. The domain is located in Vertus near Avis and the 8.66 hectares include parcels in some of the best Grand and Premire Crus in the Côte de Blancs. The yields are 30% lower than the maximum allowed by Champagne. Harvest is by hand. Only indigenous yeast is used. Organic farming is practiced. This is one of my favorites and Ed said he liked the style because it is based on Chardonnay. $55
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
Gosset “Grand Rosé” Brut NV Made from 58% Chardonnay 35% Pinot Noir and 7% red wine from Ambonnay and Bouzy. The grapes come from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. It is a blend of 3 different harvests, including 10% reserve wine. The wine spends an average of four years resting on the lees before release. It has delicate and elegant with hints of raspberry and strawberry. $75
Ed said that they are making excellent Rosè Champagne for the last 30 years and deserve to be better known.
Beef Wellington, Roasted Root Vegetables, Cream of Morels
Pol Roger “ Extra Cuvèe De Reserve” Brut 2006 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 Remis 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
Louis Roederer Rosé Brut 2008 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 in the cellar and another 6 months resting 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 in the wine. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and Ed said it was that it was typical of the Roederer Rose. Ed said this might be the best buy of the tasting. $75
Perrier-Jouet “ Belle Epoque” Rosé Brut 2008. 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 the most expensive wine and in Ed’s 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. $275
Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rosé Brut 2005 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 Reims. 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 elegant and complex Champagne with hints of strawberry, cherry, currants and a touch of roasted almonds. $200
Note – Picture of Ed Mc Carthy and the Taster courtsey of Cynthia sin- yi cheng