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A Bunch of Rosés this Valentines

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champagne logo By The Champagne Concept (Harrogate)

Over the past few years Rosé Champagne has become more and more popular, whether it be to accompany strawberries and cream whilst watching Wimbledon, serving with canapés at a Champagne reception or the perfect gift at Valentine’s.

With Rosés filling the shops this February ahead of the 14th, now is the time to explore this lovely pink fizz!

This article will clue you up on Rosés, how they are made and how to choose the perfect Rosé for you.

How its made – “Assemblage vs. Saignée”

You may not be aware, but there are two different ways to make a Rosé Champagne which result in to very different wines.  The more common approach is called “Rosé d’Assemblage”.  Assemblage, French for blending is exactly that; ahead of placing the champagne in the bottle to age, still white wine and red wine are blended to produce the desired hue of pink.  This is then placed in the bottle with yeast and sugar to ferment and age (this is the point in the process where Champagne gets its magical fizz).  Whilst Rosé d’assemblage is the main process used to make Rosé Champagne, it is not allowed to be used anywhere else in France to make a sparkling Rosé.

Now the classic phrase, only wine from Champagne can be called Champagne does not stop with Rosé, therefore the little dose of Red wine added to the blend needs to be made in the Champagne region and there are very few vineyards in Champagne which make a red wine, in fact most of them can be found in the village of Bouzy, therefore most of the Rosé Champagnes you drink, no matter the producer or grape blend, will have one common attribute, they are made pink by the same wine – the Bouzy Rouge.

So what makes one Rosé assemblage different to another?  There are 3 big variations;

  • the grape blend of the white wine (the split used between the 3 grapes of Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Point Meunier) will significantly impact the flavour of the Champagne. For example, if purely Chardonnay grapes are used, this will create a very subtle and elegant Rosé, a very light and easy drinking aperitif wine.  A pinot noir or pinot meunier dominated wine will be more fruity and robust.  Many Champagnes will indicate the grape mix on the back label
  • the percentage of red wine added to create the Rosé impacts the flavour also, a high percentage such as 15% will result in a fruity and more vinous (wine flavoured) taste. A low percentage such as 6% can deliver such a delicate rosé that on blind taste you may not notice that it is pink but allows the wine to be paired such things as summer fruits where a white champagne cannot. It is sometimes not clear from the label how much red wine is added but the Colour of the Champagne will give it away
  • The sugar content will have a significant impact on the taste of the Rosé. A standard brut will have between 6-10 grams of sugar per litre and tends to be on the drier side.  A sweeter tooth should look out for a Sec or Demi-sec Rosé, these pair nicely with berry deserts such as Eton mess.

The other, more uncommon Rosé Champagne is the Rosé de Saignée (French for “Bleed”).  To make this Rosé the Red Grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are used.  Whilst the grapes are red, the juice is white.  Once the juice is pressed from the grapes, it is left to sit in the skins of the grapes to take on the colour of the Skins.  Left for a few hours, a lighter Rosé is produced, if left for a much longer period the Rosé becomes a darker and richer red.  Making a Rosé this way is difficult as leaving the juice to sit with their skins can mean the flavour is damaged by the tannin on the skins.  However, when made successfully, this lovely rich rosé can be sublime! – Rich with red berry flavours such as cherries and blackcurrants this Rosé can be paired nicely with a cheeseboard or a good quality Chocolate.

In conclusion, the world of Rosés is a vast and varied one, whether your tastes are for something, sweet for dry, rich or elegant there is a rosé Champagne out there for you.  Over the month of February, The Champagne Concept in Harrogate will be showcasing a wide range of Rosés to help you find your favourite!

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