Once again this year, “Champagne” Ed McCarthty, author of Champagne for Dummies spoke about his favorite topic Champagne to the Wine Media Guild. The tasting and lunch was held at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC. The Champagne of choice was Rosé, both vintage and non-vintage, and 22 were featured in the tasting.
Ed explained there are two ways to make Rosé 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.
Ayala Brut Rosè “Majeur” NV. This is made from 45% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier. Ed said that it had “Latin Roots” as the founder came from South America. Ed liked it and felt that it was elegant, light style champagne. He also recommended their Dosage Zero NV. I agree with Ed and the Rosè is a good buy for $50.
Henri Giraud “Fut de Chene” Brut Rosé NV made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 8% red wine from Aÿ GC added. The vineyard is 10 ha and the soil is pure chalk. It is vinified like great red Burgundy from 80 year old Pinot Noir vines with tiny concentrated berries. Harvesting in the vineyard with a specialized team, then sorted in the winery. $50
Lamiable Grand Cru Brut Rosé NV Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The soil is chalk and limestone and the exposure is south. Vineyards are an average of 30 to 35 years old. Fermentation takes place in enamel and stainless steel tanks and then undergoes malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 18 months on the lees, two to four barrels and used, there is no new oak. The wine has hints of ripe pear, peach and yellow apple with fresh acidity and good minerality. $55
Philippe Gonet Brut Rose NV made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir from the village of Vertus on the Cote des Blancs. Cellar aging lasts for 3 years. This is an intense and complex wine with hints of tangy, floral and spicy red fruits with nice minerality. $55
Boizel Brut Rosé NV made from 20% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir of which 8% is vinified red wine and 30% Pinot Noir. There is 20% of reserve wine added. Aging on the lees for 3 years and the dosage is 8g/l. This is a very delicate Rosé dominated by red grapes and with hints of red berries and touches of raspberries, strawberries and spice. $55
Duval-Leroy 1er Cru Brut Rose NV made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Premier Cur vineyards. Alcoholic fermentation takes place at low, stable temperatures in single vineyard batches in order to optimize the aromatic complexity inherent in each terroir. All cuvees undergo malolactic fermentation. The “Rose de Saigne” method gives this Rose its signature character. Wines are bottled for a second fermentation called prise de mousee (capturing the sparkle), then stored in a chalk cellar for a minimum of 3 years. The wine has flavors and aromas of white flowers, brioche, pears and pastry dough. $65
Collet Brut Rosé NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. This Rosé is made from 20 crus. The wine is aged for a minimum of four years in one hundred year old chalk cellars. The wines are aged longer than the required minimum of 15 months. The wine has dark red fruits and floral rose notes with a touch of honey. Some of the members of the Wine Media Guild picked this as their #1 NV. $ 50
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. Ed likes this wine. $55
Piper-Heidsieck Sauvage Rosé NV. It is made from 45% Pinot Noir and $40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Chardonnay. Ed said the wine was very fruity (which may be accounted for by the 40% Meunier) lot of ripe berry fruit flavors. He believed the wine was aimed at the “young market” $55.
A.R. Lenoble Brut Rosé NV made from 88% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Chouilli and 12% Pinot Noir from the Premier Cru village of Bisseuil. The base wine is from the 2012 harvest and there is 35% reserve wine. The proportion de vins sous is 20% and the dosage is 3g/l. This is an elegant and intense wine with hints of cherry, spice and brioche. $50
Deutz Brut Rosé NV made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay with 10 to 15% reserve wine. The wine has hints of strawberry, pomegranate and a touch of cherry. $52
Alfred Gratien Brut Rosè NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir added as a still wine. After 6 months of cellaring in 228 liter oak casks, the must is transformed into wine. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The cuvee is bottled with sugar and yeast to allow for a secondary fermentation in the bottle and it remains in the cellar for 36 months. Then the disgorging takes place where the lees and sediment are removed from the bottle. The bottle is then topped up again with more wine and some sugar and left to rest for a few more months in the cellar. It has good red fruit with hints of raspberry and I enjoyed it with lunch. $70