Your guide to the drinks of the season with Giles Fallowfield, the Champagne Guru
The popularity of pink champagne has never been higher and with summer around the corner we’re thinking pink. Wider availability (nearly every producer, large or small, now makes rosé), better quality and the generally fruitier, softer style – that many find more approachable than straight brut non-vintage (white) champagne – have helped fuel growth. It looks different in the glass, too, with a wide range of hues from shocking pink through coppery opal tones to a pale, almost colourless, onionskin. Here are five of my favourites…
Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé
Although Clicquot claims to have made the first ever rosé champagne back in 1775, its non-vintage rosé was only launched in 2005 in Japan. It was such a success, Clicquot sensibly invested in getting better, more concentrated fruit and red wine from its Pinot Noir vineyards in Bouzy and quality took a leap forward when this came on stream. Now its non-vintage pink is one of the best, with lovely, bright fruit and a seductive, soft, creamy palate.
Widely available. Majestic,“£56 a bottle, mix six price £50.40, majestic.co.uk;
Pink champagne is unusual in the wine world in that most is made by blending red wine – perhaps between 10 and 15 per cent depending on how strong a colour you want – with white champagne. However, Michel Drappier makes his savoury all-Pinot Noir brut rosé by the rarer saignée method, where colour is literally “bled” from the blacks’ skins. The resulting concentration of red fruit is so strong he actually lightens it with a little Pinot Noir vinified as white wine, but the final colour of the wine varies depending on the harvest.
Handford Wines, £41.99
Bruno Paillard’s champagnes are classy, understated and mostly only available in restaurants with a maître d’ and a Michelin star or two. This pink is made from Pinot Noir sourced in top vineyards like Mailly, Bouzy and Verzenay, which gives typical notes of cherry and strawberry. Freshness and citrus lift come from a splash of Chardonnay from the north of the Côte des Blancs while the finish is long and elegant. Like other rosés it’s a good match with quite spicy foods.
Selfridges, £56.99 selfridges.com
This small négociant house based in the Côte des Blancs first came to my attention thanks to its pink fizz. It is, like the Fourny brothers (Charles-Henry and Emmanuel), a wine of charm. A mostly Chardonnay blend of three vintages, the third of Pinot Noir in the mix, 13 per cent of which is red wine, gives a purity of berry fruit while a touch of oak adds a velvety texture. Enjoy it as a classy aperitif, with cured salmon or sushi.
The Good Wine Shop (Kew), £45, thegoodwineshop.co.uk
Rosé accounts for more than 20 per cent of Moët’s sales, more than double the market average. They have invested heavily to make these wines even better. The first vintage rosé that benefits from Moët’s new Epernay red-wine facility shows finer tannins giving a velvety texture. The red wine quotient is important in Moët’s pinks because they use a higher proportion than most. Half of the Pinot Noir used (23 per cent) is vinified as red wine, double what others typically use. Generous with a gingerbread note, it shows a nice savoury bitterness on the long finish.
Hedonism, £67.40 hedonism.co.uk