The rosé champagne has been since the early XIX century one of the most appreciated and fashionable. It is obtained either by mixing French red wine (from champagne) with French white wine (from champagne), either leaving the skin of red grapes to colour the freshly pressed grape juice. From just 2% of all champagne exports in the 70s, the rosé champagne has reached today over 10% of all champagne exports.
There are many different types of rosé champagne, one requiring of the most elaborate methods being through bleeding – a very short maceration (8 to 12 hours) from juices obtained from the skin of the red grapes. This method is considered to require a distinct ”savoir faire”.
The differentiating factor the most visible is the actual colour of the rosé champagne. If in the case of rosé wines, the pale reds are preferred, the the case of rosé champagnes there is a variety of reds from vibrant reds to pale ones. But it is certainly not the colour dictating the taste. The rosé champagnes elaborated based on chardonnay wine are generally considered to be more subtle, but are also more rare, given that chardonnays represent less than 30% of all champages. Rosé champagne made from black grapes (pinot noir, pinot meuniers) are considered to be more full-bodied in taste.
The history of the rosé champagne dates back to the ealy XIXth century, Barbe Nicole Cliquot proposing a rosé champagne as early as 1804. Then, other houses followed suite – Ruinart, Billecart-Salmon, Dom Perignon etc. The pioneer of rosé champagne, Veuve Cliquot, launched its first rosé millésimé in 1868, followed till today by a dozen varieties. Until 1988, the Vitange Rosé was the flagship of the house of Cliquot. The second rosé cuvée came as the rosee version of the La Grande Dame. Created in 2006, the rosé champagne based on Brut Carte Jaune, the most famous cuvée of Veuve Cliquot is based on 12% red wine and the rest being 6 other carefully selected crus.
It took the house of Krug over 140 years to develop its first rosé champagne in 1983, with less than 15.000 bottles for each release, which is not done yealy, as it very much depends on the optimal pinot noir, the ideal mix being six of the best millésime wines. Olivier Krug says about the Krug Rosé ”It is our work of art”.
After having disappeared in 1920, the famous Cordon Rosé champagne of the house of Mumm, reappeared in 1957, when the Japanese painter Leonard Fujita drew the famous rose which became an emblem of the maison. Today, the house brand for rosé champagne is Mumm Rosé.
The first rosé champagne of Dom Pérignon dates back to 1971 and was based on the 1962 official millesime of the maison, of which 300 bottles were produced but never actually sold. In 2008, an American collector sold in an auction two of these bottles, otherwise unseen before, therefore a recipe was never found. Dom Perignon’s rosé champagne matures for 9 years before being sold. The present millesime rosé is of the year 2.000.
The house of Laurent Perrier, which fetes its 200 anniversary in 2012, is recognized as the leader of rosé champagne which it produces differently. Its method is through maceration and is based more on the aromas of the wines and requires a perfect ripe of the grapes. The house Brut Rosé champagne was launched in 1968, is made entirely from a dozen crus of pinot noire wine from the Mountain of Reims and a 3 day method of maceration is applied. Laurent Perrier launched a prestige version of the rosé champagne, which was named Alexandra Rosé, based on 20% chardonnay of the finest quality and 80% a selection of the best pinot noirs.
For the house of Ruinart, its Dom Ruinart rosé champagne is based 84% on its finest emblematic chardonnays, and the remaining on pinot noir of Verzenay and Verzy. The first rosé champagne came from the millesime of 1996, which also became the 17th millesime of the series.
Created 12 years after the Cuvée Belle Epoque, the Rosé was a huge success in the US where it was even renamed ”Fleur de Champagne Rosé”, while in Europe it became the official champagne of the ultra exclusive Bal de la rose, having been known as Grace Kelly’s favourite.
Roederer’s famous Cristal champagne which was commissioned by Tsar Alexander II, developed the Cristal Rosé in 1974. The Cristal Rosé owes its colour to the extreme quality of the red wine and the method of squeezing the skins of red grapes. The Roederer house takes pride in its focus on the quality of the Bordeaux grapes, where it produces several crus such as the Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande which serve as base for the Cristal Rosé.
Alexandra Rosé champagne is also among the most expensive grand rosé champagnes, retailing for 350 euros, followed by Louis Rosé champagne of Pommery, which is priced at 280 euros, Krug Rose at 250 euros and Cristal Rose at 250 euros.
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