Pink champagne ticks all the boxes. It looks great in the glass, it is softer and often more generously fruity than white champagne, making it more approachable for those that dislike champagne’s inherent acidity. It elevates an ordinary occasion into something special. And many feel that, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s a must.
Pink champagnes tend to be more expensive than their white counterparts, sometimes, and notably in the case of a handful of prestige cuvées, far more expensive. But we’ve selected a few at different price points that score well in terms of the quality to price ratio, plus a couple of extravagant choices: well it is for your Valentine.
Canard-Duchêne Léonie Brut Rosé NV, £24.11 (down 20% from £30.14 until 14/2/2019). Usually just available to the restaurant trade, this mainly black-fruit blend (50% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay) is an attractive coppery pink with extra depth from longer ageing and a hint of spice.
Thiénot Brut Rosé NV, £34.96 (down 20% from £43.70 until 14/2/2019). Beautifully fresh this elegant pink (45% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier) shows attractive raspberry and black cherry fruit with a creamy palate and good length, helped by four years lees ageing.
Pierre Paillard Grand Cru (Bouzy) ‘Les Terres Roses’ Rosé
Tasted yesterday (at the Bancroft Wines trade event) with Quentin Paillard, who runs this grower-producer based in the Grand Cru of Bouzy with his brother Antoine and father Benoît, this is one of the best pink champagnes I have tried for a long time. Very pale, in fact hardly pink at all, this is a two-thirds Chardonnay, one third Pinot Noir blend made, as most pink champagnes are, by the addition of a little red wine, in this case 6% Bouzy Rouge from one particular plot they have in the village, where all their vineyards are located, called Clos Pierre Pillar. It has lovely balance and energy, improving at every sip. With 2gm/l dosage it’s Extra Brut in style.
Drappier Brut Rosé
What surprises me most about this pink I particularly favour, is that more retailers don’t stock it. Unusually it’s made by the saignée method, with the lovely colour literally bled off the skins of the black Pinot Noir grapes it is entirely produced from. Richly fruity and Burgundian in style, you can tell it’s Pinot – this southerly part of the Champagne vineyard is closer to Chablis than it is to Reims – Michel Drappier actually blends in about 10% Pinot vinified as white wine to give it a refreshing lift.
£42.99 Tivoli Wines, https://www.tivoliwines.co.uk/drappier-rose-brut-nv
Philipponnat Brut Royal Réserve Rosé
The Philipponnat wines impress across the range from Royal Réserve Brut right up to Clos des Goisses. A self-proclaimed Pinot Noir specialist based in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ where the Philipponnat descendants date back to 1522, the rosé is three quarters Pinot Noir from close by the house with reserve wines and some wood ageing adding complexity, depth and interest. Savoury wines with real vinosity that are good with food.
£44.95, The Whisky Exchange.
Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royal Brut Rosé NV
I tasted this yesterday (12/2/2019) at the Bancroft Wines trade event with Jean-Claude Fourmon’s son Benjamin, who has just taken over running the business. Based on the 2013 harvest and served in magnum, it has that extra bit of class and pizzazz that such a format always seems to bring with bright cherry fruit and some richness on the palate. (65% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier, with the 12% of red wine in the blend usually coming from Cumières).
£48 (75cl), Harrods
Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV
This will probably be the pink that comes out in this household and not just because it’s there resting in the cellar. Like its Brut Réserve partner, it’s a hot favourite here. Lovely fruit expression, but it’s the silky palate depth that I yearn for.
£55, Amazon; £59.99 Tivoli Wines; £65, Fortnum and Mason
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
This is another classy option that’s also available chez moi, but may be saved to savour in the garden once the weather brightens up. It’s delicate with beautifully defined red fruit aromas, lovely freshness and creamy texture and it bears a little extra cellaring if you want something slightly more evolved.
£58.15 The Whisky Exchange; £63.99, Selfridges,
Louis Roederer Vintage Rosé 2012
A top class pink all made from Roederer’s own vineyard fruit and a blend of 63% Pinot Noir to 37% Chardonnay. A vintage with lovely balance, that’s already attractively approachable but only at the very start of a long drinking window and will evolve, gathering complexity, for at least a decade.
£65.95, TheFinestBubble.com (2-hour delivery in London available)
Charles Heidsieck Millésime Rosé 2006
This pink gets lovelier with age. I adored the 1999 vintage which stayed in the market for several years (you might still be able to find it) and just got better and better, creamier and creamier, with more time on the cork. TFB also has the riper 2005 (at £99.95) and maybe that’s better for drinking now.
£84.99, TheFinestBubble.com (2-hour delivery in London available)
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé 2006
This is here because it was arguably the luxury pink fizz I most enjoyed drinking in the whole of 2018. I admit this was helped in no small way by being accompanied by the devine food of the late Joel Robuchon, but while that may have swayed me, I stand by the judgement. Any champagne that changes and evolves as expressively as this, delighting in a different way at every sip, is something special.
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Alexandra Rosé 2004
Laurent-Perrier’s Brut Rosé is the pink champagne that kicked off interest in the category and is a widely available, decently made pink fizz. This is its prestige cousin, initially produced for LP maestro Bernard de Nonancourt to celebrate one of his daughters’ (not Stéphanie) weddings. Quite a gift. On my week-long tour of Champagne last November, it was the last wine I tasted at Laurent-Perrier and I left for home with a lovely memory of its warmth, savouriness and complexity, in the taxi ride back to Reims station. It’s not cheap, but it is fine.