Valentine’s Day is Sunday. If you did not know that, you do not need to read any further as you likely see the “holiday” as a bit of a scam to sell products. For those of you still reading, however, pink champagne seems to have been adopted as the semi-official beverage for the occasion. Here are a dozen rosés, pretty much widely available across the country, that will certainly put a pleasant spin on whatever you may have planned for impressing (seducing?) your companion on Sunday evening.
André Clouet Champagne Rose No. 3, France: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir (10% Bouzy rouge added to the vin clair). There are few words in any language that stokes my palate more than “Bouzy” as it has a singular meaning: the best Pinot Noir in Champagne. And therefore Rosé from the famed Grand Cru village has to be considered among the best in the world. The mere name of the town takes me back to my days riding the vineyards, hustling the last few kilometers to get into town before the wineries close up for lunch. Then, after a quick tasting, taking a bottle of Bouzy Rosé to the steps of the tiny church in town to pair with the sandwich I bought on my way out of Epernay. This non-vintage bottling from one of the village’s titans, André Clouet (established 1741) is a brilliant representation. A gorgeous salmon with a savory strawberry-rhubarb blend of aromas, the palate is tart and precise, with laser-sharp acidity, a delicate sparkle, and, eventually, fruit. The relatively modest dosage (6 gr/l) comes off as just about perfect. OK. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $75. 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier. As I have said before, this is one of the two (or three) standard-bearers when it comes to big-house rosé champagnes. I tasted this blind and it turns out that it was a bad glass–it threw off fairly big bubbles and a rather off-putting nose. Glass matters. Once I switched to a different stem? Different ball game. Quite fruity on the nose with cherry and strawberry. Pale pink with a slight orange tint. Tart and fruity on the palate, even really tart. While this was not the “best” wine in the flight, it was wonderful. Excellent. 91 Points.
Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $70. Predominantly Pinot Noir with a splash of Chardonnay. Disgorged October 2019. Bruno Paillard is one of the youngest houses in Champagne (founded in 1981), but it is also one of the most innovative. In addition to being the first house to post the disgorgement date on every bottle (starting in 1985), BP also uses a solera system for its reserve wines (a constantly changing blend of wines, also dating back to 1985). The house now owns approximately 70% of the vineyards needed for its rather modest 25K (12-bottle) case production, another rarity. Last, a significant portion of each wine has been aged in neutral oak barrels. While this is certainly not “innovative” it is indeed rare in “modern” Champagne as almost all producers today use stainless steel exclusively. This wine has a lovely light copper hue and aromas of red berry fruit (strawberry, ripe cherry, groseille), a touch of citrus, and freshly baked croissant. The palate is elegant and refined with tart red fruit, a delicate sparkle, and a lingering finish. Very dry (under 6g/liter), this wine is a fantastic appéritif but would be even better with food: grilled salmon, even coq au vin. Delicious and Outstanding. 94 Points.
Champagne Collet Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. This is in the top 20 in sales of champagne in the U.S. and I regrettably admit that I had never heard of it before moving to Texas and seeing it for sale on the shelves of my local grocery store. Fairly dark when it comes to rosé champagnes with a deep reddish-orange and plenty of flinty, blood-orange, rhubarb, peach, hibiscus, rose petal, a whole lot going on here on the nose. The palate is tart, subtly fruity, and, quite frankly, fantastic. I did not have high hopes for this, but it really excels. Excellent. 92 Points.
Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé, France: Retail: $75. 58% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 7% Red Pinot Noir. Gosset is perhaps my singular favorite champagne producer and that is based on only two wines: the Grande Réserve and this wine, the Grand Rosé. To call this pink might be a stretch–this is much more of a brilliant orange with a pink tinge. On the nose: slightly oxidized tart cherry with brioche and heavenly goodness. On the palate? Wholly goodness. This is right in my wheelhouse. Good fruit, verve, depth, and all kinds of swagger. Still fruity, but quite tart, this exudes rhubarb, strawberry, and slightly under-ripe Bing Cherry. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Rosé Brut, France: Retail $85. 100% Pinot Noir. Perhaps the standard-bearer when it comes to rosé champagne, which boasts a rich pink-reddish color, almost a light red. A bit yeasty and flinty on the palate but surprisingly low on fruit on both the nose and palate. A lively sparkle and intense tartness and, again, heavy on minerality and yeast. I was surprised upon the reveal as I usually gravitate to those champagnes that are heavy on the Pinot Noir. It was fine, but I would have anticipated a better showing in this lineup. Still, Very Good. 89 Points.
Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Of the eight wines in the lineup, this was the one that I had tried more than any of the others. I figured I would pick it out with nary a pause. Well, a funny thing happened. I guessed wrong. Regardless, rich pink color, and plenty of fruit: cherry and peach. The palate is also fruity (but not as much as on the nose). Vibrant sparkle on the palate, really active. Fantastic. Outstanding. 93 Points.
Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial Rosé, France: Retail $60. 40-50% Pinot Noir, 30-40% Pinot Meunier, 10-20% Chardonnay. This rosé is much-maligned but it fared quite well, thank you very much. An orange-ish cotton candy color with watermelon and cherry aromas on the nose. The palate is a tad on the sweet side, but it works as it is balanced with a zingy acidity and a crushed rock aspect. I guessed that it was Veuve, which I consider a bit of a win since the two giants are owned by the same conglomerate (yeah, I can justify just about anything). Excellent. 91 Points.
G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Grand Cordon Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier, 14% red wine. A solid pink here, brilliant color in the glass. Gorgeous color. A bit flinty and yeasty on the nose, little fruit coming through. More of the same on the palate, this is screaming for food as it is fairly austere but still tasty. This is a solid wine, even excellent, but there are better wines at this price-point, perhaps. Excellent. 90 Points.
Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut Rosé Sauvage, France: Retail $60. 55%-60% Pinot Noir, 20%-25% Pinot Meunier, 10%-15% Chardonnay. I can not say this for certain, but I believe this might be the darkest rosé champagne on the market (that might need some more research), in fact, it might be closer to a light red than a rosé. Wonderful sparkle and aromas of pomegranate, rhubarb, and a certain meatiness that is oh so scrumptious. I have had a few bottles of this joyful wine now, and with each sip I grow more enamored: rich red fruit–maybe the fruitiest champagne I have tried, with the pomegranate really coming through in spades. Incredibly rich, but racy, this wine makes other rosé champagnes appear wimpy by comparison. Excellent. 92 Points.
Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $80. One of (if not the) the standards in rosé champagne, this is certainly one of our favorites. Fairly dark for a rosé champagne, with a deep pinkish-orange with a beautiful nose of ripe strawberry, tart cherry, and a decided yeastiness. On the palate, this initially comes off as a bit sweet due to all the fruit–and there is a lot of fruit–, but on the mid-palate the complexity comes in with mineralogy, freshly baked bread and a vibrant sparkle. The finish lasts for well over a minute. Whoa. There is a reason that this is one of the benchmarks for rosé champagne. Excellent. 92 Points.
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 44 to 48 % Pinot Noir, 25 to 29 % Chardonnay, 13 to 18 % Meunier. This was the last of a blind tasting of eight rosé champagnes on Champagne Day 2020. I have had quite a few bottles of this wine recently and I would have thought that I would have been able to identify it almost immediately. Nope. Brilliant pink, but lacking fruit on the nose. The palate is another story: fruity, rich, a bit of sweetness, but it works. A lovely wine. Excellent. 91 Points.