Ask any retailer, and they will tell you that Christmas is upon us already, god forbid. Putting up with “Snoopy’s Christmas” in every shop we walk into is just one of the things that make this time of year barely manageable. But the good thing about Christmas is that we can drink anything we feel like – anything – and we don’t need to justify it to anybody.
So for this year’s Christmas I’ve decided I’m going to drink Rose Champagne. Although I am on somewhat of a budget, Christmas deserves a bit of a splurge, and at any rate, through sheer luck and good timing, I often find myself present at the popping of a cork.
Rose Champagnes suffer from a poor reputation and are often seen as somewhat of a pariah. For some reason, we associate pink with cloying sweetness and a wine that’s too much to deal with. But this is a myth: Rose Champagnes are generally slightly more full bodied, and often drier, that normal Champagnes, which makes them an excellent wine for matching with food. Most Champagne houses nowadays will do two or three Roses: a non vintage, a vintage, and maybe even a prestige cuvee.
As with normal Champagne, the non vintage represents the ‘house style’, and will usually offer good, if straightforward drinking, and a promise of what is to come with the top wines. Of the non vintages, my pick is the Billecart Salmon Brut Rose. Any list of ‘best roses’ will have this one somewhere near the top, and with good reason – it is a lovely dry style, with copious amounts of strawberry and raspberry, an intriguing minerality, and a beautiful velvety texture. Special kudos also has to go to Taittinger, whose non vintage rose reflects the reputation of this fine House. This wine is intense and delightful, giving off flavours of cherry and blackcurrant, and it just screams ‘crowd pleaser’.
Vintage Roses are often worth spending extra on, because they offer a bit more depth of flavour and intensity than non vintages. Pol Roger Rose Vintage 1999 is ridiculously drinkable. Big and powerful, this wine personified would resemble a particularly fruity body builder. My other vintage favourite is the Veuve Clicquot Rose 2002. A delightful romp through fields of wild strawberries, it evolves in the glass to give off more almondy, almost figgy characteristics. Just the thing to find your way into someone’s heart, or back into their good books, depending on the situation.
Far more frivolous than its regional brother, Rose Champagne has all the components to make it an excellent choice for summer (and Christmas) drinking. In most cases, Rose Champagne is a big dry lovely that will sit nicely with what you’re having for dinner, and in all cases, it will significantly improve morale when you are sitting on your deck come a fine summer evening. And as luck would have it, there happens to be a Rose Champagne tasting at Glengarry shortly, the perfect excuse to try some out.
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