Rosé Champagne – Choosing Your Favourite

At The Finest Bubble, we drink different wines in summer to winter – when the sun is out (and let’s face it, that’s not too often here in the UK); we steer clear of heavy, hearty reds and turn to delicate rosé or crisp white wine…preferably with bubbles!

With rosé in 2014 accounting for 8.4 percent of total champagne shipments – a number that has been steadily growing for the last 10 years – it seems we love our rosé in the UK. Consumers have been drinking more pink champagne this century than at any other time in history and so we turn the spotlight onto how it’s made and what to look for in your rosé. We take the view that a rosé is best when there are distinct red fruit characteristics and not just colour, since many are barely pink and taste like “white” champagnes. We have picked a small range of rosé’s that have enough of that character from the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes to make them distinctly different to their blanc siblings.



When making ‘white’ champagne, producers have to press the dark-skinned grapes carefully so as to minimise colour coming from the skins – you want the aromas and flavours these red grapes bring, just not the colour. When making red wine, the colour is extracted by prolonged contact with the skins during fermentation. When making rosé still wine it’s the same process but for a much shorter period on the skins. In rosé champagne, you do want the colour as well as the aromas and flavours of the Pinot grapes and this is typically achieved by adding red wine. Rosé champagne is made as if it were a blanc champagne and then after its first fermentation the red wine, typically 15-18 per cent, is added to the blend (assemblage) prior to its bottling. The bottles then go off to rest in the chalk cellars where it’s quite cool (9-13°C) for the second, in bottle fermentation to slowly take place.

Laurent-Perrier is an exception in rosé champagne production, since they make their rosé by fermenting the Pinot grapes with the juice. The Pinot Noir grapes are destemmed and hand sorted and the berries are then macerated for 12-72 hours, depending on fruit ripeness, until the colour is fixed and the aroma resembles freshly picked raspberries. The timing is so crucial, legend has it that the first Chef de Cave, Edouard Leclerc, slept by the tank to stop it just in time! Some years, a portion of the juice is drawn off during the first 24 hours using the “saignée method” to further concentrate colour. The final blend is predominantly one vintage with a small amount of reserve wines, matured in bottle on the lees for four years before discouragement and LP believe in then bringing it quickly to market after a three month rest.

From the other rosé champagnes we list, the Pol Roger Rosé 2006 and Charles Heidsieck Rosé Millésimé 1999 are great examples of rich and full bodied rosés both offering great value for money. Once you step up into the heady world of Prestige Cuvée rosé, then it’s all back to which house style you prefer. The Dom Ruinart Rosé 2002 is very elegant and has plenty of intriguing red fruit character. Of the Dom Pérignon Rosé selection, we have four vintages – we definitely prefer DP rosé further along it’s path of maturity – though saying that, the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2002 at present is opulent: top vintage, top champagne!


Other Rosé Champagnes we list:

Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2005
Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004
Dom Pérignon Rosé 1996
Krug Rosé NV
Louis Roederer Cristal 2006
Louis Roederer Cristal 2002