New Year’s Eve parties are sparkling affairs that glow warmer with a glass of rose’ champagne or sparkling wine.
Earlier this month, the Wine Media Guild held its annual holiday champagne tasting organized by Ed McCarthy, author of “Champagne for Dummies,” who focused on rose’ Champagnes.
Rose’ is romantic, tasty and beautiful. It comes in a palette of pink, from barely tinted salmon to nearly red. The tiny reflective bubbles turned pinkish, creating a magical moment, and the flavors, ranging from strawberry to cherry and orange, are delightful.
Rose’ Champagnes are made either from macerating the dark pinot noir or pinot meunier grape skins with the juice before the first fermentation, or adding up to 15 percent pinot noir wine to the tanks or barrels of still wine before it is transferred to individual bottles to begin the second fermentation, which creates the bubbles.
Rose’ Champagne has three tiers: non-vintage, vintage, and prestige cuvee. They are almost always more expensive than white Champagne. The first tier is perfect for an aperitif, but the vintage and prestige cuvees are meant to be enjoyed with a dinner menu of roasted veal or pork, poached or grilled salmon, or sautéed sweetbreads or scallops.
Here is a selection of rose’ Champagnes for your party and a few lower-priced sparkling wine alternatives. This is the best time of the year to stock up on Champagne, as many retailers price it just pennies above cost.
Non-Vintage Rose’ Champagnes:
Ariston Fils offers flavorful cherry and strawberry flavors. It retails for approximately $40.
Henriot is one of my favorite Champagne houses. I enjoy the non-vintage and cellar the vintage Champagnes, and the rose’ shows why: good body, great mouth feel and savory fruit flavors. It retails for about $75.
Delamotte is another great Champagne house. Everything is here: full body, rich fruit flavors, elegant finish. It retails for approximately $90.
Bollinger is the Champagne of James Bond, and if it’s good enough for him it should make your party happy, too. Excellent balance of red fruit flavor and acidity is combined with suave texture. It retails for approximately $90.
Vintage Rose’ Champagnes:
The 2002 Pol Roger is a great Champagne. Pol Roger makes full-bodied, structured wines. The 2002 rose’ is savory and perfectly balanced. It retails for approximately $100.
The 2004 Louis Roederer is also a full-bodied champagne with lots of fruit flavor and very good length. It retails for about $75.
Vintage Rose’ Prestige Cuvee Champagnes:
The 2002 Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne is unquestionably the most beautiful bottle in the wine world with its Belle Epoch design. Inside is a cooper-colored Champagne with ripe fruit flavor and a memorable finish. It retails for approximately $275.
The 2003 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or is presented in a striking cut glass-like bottle, and the wine delivers pinot noir color and strawberry-cranberry flavors followed by a long, crisp finish. It retails for approximately $160.
The 2004 Taittinger Comtes des Champagne is one of most elegant champagnes. Taittinger’s style is a lighter body champagne that is silky and flavorful. This prestige cuvee is all about refinement. It retails for approximately $275.
Rose Sparkling wines made in the Champagne method:
Segura Viudas non-vintage is made by Spain’s best sparkling wine house. This cava is bright cooper-colored, bursting with fruit flavor, and a touch sweeter than the rose’ champagnes. It’s also an unbelievably good value at $9.
The 2007 Schramsberg is from one of America’s best sparkling wines. Its California fruit yields a bigger body and more robust strawberry and cherry flavors than the Champagnes in this report. It retails for about $39.
Happy New Year!
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