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Decanter Best

Top rosé Champagne to try

This ever popular style of Champagne is often more expensive than its white counterparts, but offers a number of great food pairing options and is well placed as a Valentine's Day treat.

In 2023 global Champagne shipments fell by around 8% to 299 million bottles but Champagne remains a firm favourite with UK customers and is particularly popular as a celebration wine.

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, rosé Champagne is in sharp focus right now. This is a category which has been on the rise for a while, but how is rosé Champagne made and what should it be paired with?


See the results of the Decanter vintage rosé Champagne panel tasting


Rosé on the rise

While non-vintage rosé Champagne is still a popular choice with consumers, sommelier Jan Konetzki notes that vintage and prestige cuvée rosé Champagnes are gaining traction, particularly in restaurants.

It’s easy to see why, as many of the best examples can work brilliantly at the dinner table – whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not.

The list below features rosé Champagnes reviewed by our experts and available at a range of prices, with some great value options to more expensive choices over £300 a bottle.

How rosé Champagne is made

There are two ways to achieve the pink hue of rosé Champagne: rosé d’assemblage or saignée.

Rosé d’assemblage

Champagne is the only region where the blending of red and white wine is permitted for the production of rosé wines, and it is common across quality levels.

A small amount of red wine made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier is added to the white base wine prior to its second fermentation. The percentage of red wine added at this stage depends on the producer’s preference and can vary from 5% to more than 15%.

The aim is to ensure that the freshness and tension of the Champagne is maintained. Carine Bailleul, chef de cave at Champagne Castelnau, says her goal is ‘to have a fine balance between fruitiness, sweetness, colour and acidity’.

It goes without saying, therefore, that the red wine added should be of high quality. It not only contributes colour to the finished Champagne, but also flavour and texture.

Saignée

The saignée method involves bleeding off the pink-tinged juice from macerating red grapes.

Louis Roederer uses a version of this technique alongside cold maceration to make Cristal rosé, for instance.

The Fleur de Miraval variant uses the saignée method, blended with top Chardonnay, according to winemaker Rodolphe Péters, who worked on the project alongside Brad Pitt and the Perrin family.

How rosé Champagne tastes

It is difficult to generalise about what rosé Champagne tastes like because styles can vary, yet many will have noticeable red berry characters alongside citrus such as grapefruit and orange. In more complex styles, such as vintage rosé, you might find this balanced with the traditional autolytic flavours of Champagne, such as brioche or bread-like aromas, associated with ageing on lees.

Rosé Champagne and food pairing

Pink Champagne is versatile when it comes to food pairing. Richer styles can stand up to bigger flavours and richer foods, while the more delicate, fruit-driven wines make for a stylish aperitif. Sweeter styles such as demi-sec are a great match for fruit-forward desserts.

Konetzki recommends ‘a colossal, Pinot Noir-heavy prestige cuvée like Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé with Peking duck’. The plum sauce in the dish matches the sweet plummy flavours in the wine.

He suggests a beetroot Wellington with something like the Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Juste Rosé. The pastry-rich, fruity, earthy flavours in the wine pair perfectly with the sweet, earthy beetroot.

For extra glamour, add some preserved black truffles into the dish and try it with a 20-year-old vintage rosé Champagne for a superb – yet fairly pricey – match.


Rosé Champagnes to try for Valentine’s Day


Related articles

Sparkling rosé wines for Valentine’s Day

A guide to non-vintage Champagne

First Taste: Billecart-Salmon 2016 & Le Clos St-Hilaire 2007

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