This time of year my thoughts frequently turn to rosé Champagne, partly because I like the festive salmon color, and partly because of the notable presence of seductive pinot noir fruit. Click for my Champagne guides: part 1 and part 2.
Veuve Cliquot invented rosé Champagne in 1777. Over time, these Champagnes have become quite fashionable since they’re associated with both romance and celebration, and prices are accordingly high. You end up paying dearly for that pretty pink color—vintage rosé Champagnes are priced significantly above their non-vintage counterparts.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé is made from the best crus (high quality vineyards) of 40 percent pinot noir, 40 percent chardonnay and 20 percent pinot meunier. The grapes are first vinified to produce a sparkling white wine, and then a small amount of still pinot noir is added to produce an inviting salmon-pink color (about 8 percent of the total volume). The bead (bubbles) is fine and profuse, the aromas of tangerine peel, strawberry, and spice are seductive, and the weighty flavors of cherry, raspberry, orange, and Christmas spices are broad and persistent on the uplifting finish.
This rosé Champagne is ready for toasting now, and can be drunk before the meal and also throughout. It has more structure than other non-rosé Champagnes, so it can be comfortably paired with salmon, ham, turkey, goose, duck, and even prime rib. Sushi is a very compatible match. Available from many Orange County retailers including winex.com and totalwine.com in both standard bottle ($75 to $80) and magnum formats ($160 to $185).