A bottle of fizz is always a nice gift, but a pink bottle to share will blow your loved one’s socks off. Nothing shouts romance quite like rosé Champagne and pink fizz quality is better than ever, thanks partly to warmer summers and riper fruit. But with so many brands to choose from, how do you know which Champagne house will strike the right note? Read on for our guide to matching the right rosé to the person receiving it, and remember: it might be better to give than to receive, but make sure you’re there when the bottle is opened.
Words: Giles Fallowfield and Mark de Wesselow
The classical sentimentalist
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé
The flagship brand for rosé Champagne always delivers with its red-fruit nose and fruity, elegant palate, held together with a firm structure that is the result of four years ageing before release. But when romance is called for it’s the seductive 17th-century bottle which takes centre stage. This year sees the bottle arrive in a limited-edition monogrammed gift tin that will help preserve the memory. A perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
The Champagne Company £59.50
The arty creative
Veuve Clicquot Rosé
This crowd-pleasing brand has clearly got its sights set on the art world with this whimsical tribute to the art of blending, when winemakers assemble large numbers of different base wines, just as artists blend colours with tubes of paint. In Veuve Clicquot’s case it’s a unique collection of more than 400 reserve wines. Last year Clicquot celebrated 200 years of performing this art, which started when Madame Clicquot took the then radical step of using fine Bouzy-sourced red wine instead of an elderberry infusion to make her pink fizz.
The Whisky Exchange, £54.95
The party-going fashionista
Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial ‘Living Ties Limited Edition set’
Moët Rosé Impérial sends a celebratory message like no other brand. But the wine’s upfront fruitiness and approachability, together with its moreish textured palate and hint of spice on the finish, deserves thoughtful consideration as well as easy drinking. This ‘Living Ties’ limited edition comes in three different designs, each with two vibrant pink glasses, a perfect recipe for drinking à deux.
Clos19.com, £59 (bottle and two pink glasses)
The cool sophisticate
Billecart-Salmon is a renowned producer of high-quality rosé fizz, and the Brut style is delicate with beautifully defined red-fruit aromas, lovely freshness and creamy texture. It’s easy on the eye, too, with its classic pale hue. And in Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon 2007, one of its three ‘founders’ cuvées’, it makes one of the top pink prestige lines around. Sophisticated stuff, sure to melt the recipient’s heart.
Brut Rosé, Selfridges, £63.99, Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon 2007, £155, BBR.com
The wine buff with a heart
A favourite of sommeliers, Henriot oozes understated class with its classic, elegant wines. Pretty and pale in colour, it’s a rosé with bags of best-quality Côte des Blancs Chardonnay in the blend, emphasising fresh fruitiness with a seductive silky palate and rose-petal aromas. A gift of class that speaks volumes for the giver.
Fortnum & Mason, £60
The city slicker
This is a gift that demands to be cracked open immediately. To paraphrase Lily Bollinger, “I drink it when I’m happy. I drink it when I’m sad. Otherwise I never touch it…unless I’m thirsty.” Bollinger is a brand that has become synonymous with James Bond and its aphrodisiacal qualities have been on regular display throughout the novels and films. Bollinger Rosé is a superb new addition to the portfolio, demonstrating flavour, finesse and fullness on account of a weighty dose of reserve wines.
The wanderlust millennial
Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé
Nicolas Feuillatte, the biggest brand in France but also one of the most youthful (founded in 1972), produces a larger number of different pink styles than almost any other house in Champagne. Réserve Exclusive is the flagship, with the emphasis firmly on a fruit-driven mainly black grape palate. Clean-cut, exuberant and refreshing, this is a canny buy. Gift the stylish travel bag version to the woman in your life: £28 at John Lewis, currently reduced from £35 (or the boxed version for £24). We note there’s also an attractive half bottle (£16) but, on this occasion, it may not send the right message.
£28, John Lewis
The party princess
Piper Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage
No shrinking violet, this, the label’s shocking pink colour screams party, and the same could be said of the exuberant colour in the glass. This wine is unusual for being made by mixing red wine into the Brut NV blend in a ratio of around three parts white to one of red – most champagne rosés use under a fifth red wine. The result is a hit of juicy black fruit, think cherries and blackberries, plus a dash of blood orange. Try it with fish and chips for a surprising, but winning combination.
£47.95, The Whisky Exchange
The understated hedonist
Champagne de Castelnau Rosé
Castelnau’s stylish new packaging shows ambition, which is good to see as this is a fizz that deserves to be discovered. A warm salmon-pink colour with two thirds black grapes in the blend, it boasts ripe black cherry flavours knitted with subtle toasty notes and a clean fresh finish. Good as an aperitif, but with relatively long ageing it also has the depth to match quite spicy food.
How to serve Champagne
Best Temperature: 10- 12°C
Chill in the fridge for 3 hours, the freezer for 10 minutes or an ice bucket for 15 minutes
Vintage and prestige cuvée Champagne is best served slightly warmer
Drinking Champagne at around 10 to 12°C will allow the aromas to be released. On the palate the often delicate flavours will be ‘numbed’ if served too cold, while at warmer temperatures the flavours will be better absorbed into the palate.
Try serving Champagne chilled and then letting it warm up in the glass. You will see how the character changes and the flavours evolve.
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