Rosé, alluringly pretty to the eye with its spectrum of pink, salmon and amber hues, should taste different to other types of champagne, especially classically blended ones on which they are sometimes based.

Styles of rosé – like their colours – vary by the depth and breadth of their composites. They can be full-bodied or incredibly light, fruit-forward or savoury, vinous or lithe, with tannins or without, sweet or dry. However, rosés are most often refreshing and lively with strawberry and raspberry aromas featuring a slightly full, yet crisp, mouthfeel.  With their summery appeal, most are produced to be consumed young although some can be made for long-ageing potential developing complex, full-bodied and powerful profiles over time.

Distinctions can be enhanced or reduced in different ways, depending on winemaking. Irrespectively, all rosés need particularly ripe black grapes, making them more costly to produce than most other wines from the region.

Ripe black berries, especially those from older vines, are more intense and concentrated in flavour and colour, requiring good soil and growing conditions to reach their full potential.

They impart the necessary fruit and structural profile required for elaborating rosé styles but, more than this, because yeast ‘leaches’ colour from the wine during fermentation, it’s important to have strongly coloured black fruit to retain colour profile.

The power and intensity of black fruit was the basis for much of Champagne’s fame in the 18th and 19th Centuries, during which time the Pinot Noir kingdoms of Aÿ and Bouzy were celebrated for their still red wines. Producers to this day are still proud to declare if their rosés comprise red wine from these renowned villages of old.  These historical connections now play a major role in the predominant method of rosé production for many Grandes Marques, which is by the addition method.

The addition method involves adding a component of still red wine to other base wines to form the ultimate blend. This component can vary, depending on the outcome desired, but it’s never more than around 20 percent. Any more and the cuvée would lose its sense of lightness and crispness. Depending on the level of ripeness and amount added, the addition method can be quite vinous and full-bodied with excellent fruit profile and low or no tannins.

Read the full story in ISSUE NO. 1 of VINE & BUBBLE Magazine.

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WORDS | Sara Underdown

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