Rosé Champagne Tasting at Glengarry

Through December we had a number of excellent tastings at Glengarry, the one that stood out for me was the Rose Champagne tasting on the 7th December. This one was always going to be great fun – you see, I was not the presenter – for this tasting – a guest, there to enjoy the wines – which I did!

  Rose Champagne is quite unique, European law controls the way that Rose is made, it must be produced via the saignee method – basically Rose made from very light pressings of red grape varieties. Historically in Champagne, Rose Champagne has been produced by adding small amounts of red wine to white wine. When the law was passed, stating that only the Saignee methode could be used, the Champagne region petitioned the government to ensure the long tradition of making Rose Champagne could continue.

When we planned this tasting, we prepared a line up of eight wines, thanks to the generosity (and curiosity) of other wine importers in New Zealand, a number of wines were donated (added) to the line up and we ended up with three flights – first Non Vintage Rose (3 wines), secondly Vintage Rose (4 wines) and third but not least Prestige Rose (4 wines).

Our first wine for the night was the most ‘well priced’ in the line up and boy, did it over deliver. Drappier Rose Val de Demoiselles is a Non Vintage Rose that is made in a very unique way. It is made from 100% Pinot Noir, and unlike all the other wines in the line up – it has white Pinot wine added to lighten the colour of the rose. The nose was chalky and fruity; it had lovely fruit, peach notes, strawberries and great richness. A powerful tannic rose Champagne that is wonderful with food.

Next up was Veuve Clicquot’s Non Vintage Rose, Veuve have been producing Rose for a number of years, their first was in 1775 and this Non Vintage Rose though is reasonably new onto the market. It was as good at this tasting as when first released, fragrant, fresh, beautifully floral, the palate has layers of texture, with a round, rich and impressive length.

Also now distributed by LMVH, next up was Ruinart Rose, a very different Rose to Veuve Clicquot (and Drappier) It was very pretty, all Turkish delight and the like, a richer, earthy wine, this would be great with food.

Next up was the Vintage line up, out of the 4 wines, 3 were from the superb 2002 Vintage. 2002 vintage Champagnes have only recently started landing on our shelves, the more I taste from this vintage and I am convinced it’s a great vintage and one that suits my tastes. First up was the Moet Rose Vintage 2002, this wine had the highest % of red wine added, of the entire Rose’s in this line up, it was also aged for 7 years on lees. The Moet Rose had a wonderfully rich nose, dark salmon colour, the palate was rich, textured and had great balance between the acidity and the sugar. The Moet Rose is one classy wine. Next up was the Pol Roger Rose Vintage 2002, I had the pleasure of tasting this earlier in the year at Vin Expo and it took my attention then, it did son once again, it is powerful, yet elegant, pretty and exceedingly well balanced. Definitely a wine I’ll have to pop into the cellar. Following the Pol Roger Rose was the Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose 2002. The Bollinger stood out in the line up – as only Bollinger does, the nose was rich, buttery, honey and vanillan. The palate had crisp apple notes with a slice of rich buttered toast on the side and then – what a finish – it went on and on. The last of the Vintage Roses was the Charles Heidsieck Rose 1999. A complete contrast to the Bollinger and the two previous vintage Rose, the Charles Heidsieck Rose 1999 has a light, delicate nose, it’s very light in colour, the palate was typically Charles, that wonderful aged character from the high proportion of reserve wines, an excellent balanced wine.

Our final four were – Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Rose 2002, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rose 1998, Dom Perignon Rose 1998 and finally Krug Rose.

Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Rose is very pale salmon / onion skin in colour. It was a very fragrant forward nose, the palate then follows through with pretty beautiful notes, it has great richness and some sweetness on the palate, great length. Although it was a nice start to the Prestige line up, I would love to have seen it in the Vintage Rose and the Bollinger Grande Annee in this line up.

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rose 1998 was next up. Veuve first made Le Grande Dame Rose in 1988; it is made from fruit off 8 different Grand Cru Vineyards. The colour is quite dark, rich and deep, the nose is dominated with strawberry notes. The palate is quite rich there are some caramel notes and it is starting to show some evolution. It’s rich, luscious and a great wine.

Dom Perignon Rose 1998 up next, a real treat. Whilst the appearance is quite light, the nose it not, it stands up and tells you that it’s here and that it is Dom Perignon. The palate is rich, pungent, with great acidity, fragrance and balance. There are some strawberry notes, floral, it goes on and on and it definitely the best wine in the line up.

The last wine for the night, Krug Rose. Any wine going after the Dom Rose in a line up was potentially going to struggle, the Krug had no such difficulty, in a typically Krug style, the Rose is slightly more delicate that the Grand Cuvee whilst maintaining the unique character that is Krug.

It is always a pleasure to try this many great wines and to be able to compare them. It is well worth noting that any and every one of these would be an absolute delight to enjoy, whilst the Dom Perignon Rose 1998 was clearly my favourite wine, I would love to have the pleasure of sipping on a glass of any of these sometime in the future.