We would always wonder why Brut Rose Champagnes cost more than their Brut Counterparts. Were they more of a delicacy, as the old wine books suggested? During a revealing tasting recently, we were about to find out.
There was a time, not that many years ago, that we could host an entire evening class to the brilliant, powerful, sassy Brut Rosé Champagnes from our grower Champagne department. In fact, it more often was the case that our rosé champagne events sold out before the, then more austere, Blanc de Blancs events would. The ladies would call and all the smartest men would, too. We’ve poured buckets of brut rosé champagne in my years here as your champagne specialist.
The Issue of Quality
Something began to change about five years ago, though. The brut rosés I were being sampled on, hell, even some I was revisiting, continued to go up in price and I was finding many of them suffering from off-putting matchstick qualities on the nose. Even our tried and true rosé champagnes were showing, what I have since learned in my yearly travels to Champagne, reduction, (a condition of the winemaking process) that was scarring the wines with aromas that were covering up all that stunning character we loved about rosé in the first place.
There was little I could do but shrink my inventory and stick strictly to the wines that never showed any of those stinky qualities. Randy bemoaned the loss of half our rosé champagne offerings, but he too felt better that we were offering our customers the best. Stinky/tanky-smelling is NOT good enough for you.
The Issue of Cost
The past year or so, I am thrilled to share, the wines are coming back! All that deep fruit, curve in the mouth, all that freshness and sass has been showing up in my glass again. So, of course, we started re-stocking our shelves.
“So, what if we hosted a Brut and their Brut Rosé Counterparts tasting?” Randy asked about two months ago. His idea to pour two wines from the same domaine side-by-side and see if there is a valid reason for brut rosé champagnes costing more than their brut brethren?
The idea seemed fun to me, mostly because I have often wondered why rosé champagnes cost more than a house's standard bottling. (In the still wine realm, rosé wines are a comparative bargain compared to their house's main wines.) When I first began buying the champagne here at The Wine Country I would have salesmen flatly tell, “More Pinot Noir, more money,” a comment I shrugged my naïve, still-learning shoulders about and swallowed that answer. That was until I really cracked champagne as a category wide open and crawled inside to devour all the information I could.
One of the first things I learned, Chardonnay is much scarcer in terms of planted vines in the champagne region, and it goes into nearly almost every “basic” brut that is produced, so Blanc de Blancs, it would make sense, should be more expensive. What’s up with that?!
After a few more years I did discover that as a category most wineries produce less brut rosé champagne for a number of reasons. I’ve heard everything from "it’s easier to sell Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to the large houses", to "people don’t take the category seriously, especially particular markets that think of bubbly pink wine the stuff for girls". I particularly hated hearing that one, I promise you.
A Fun Night of Discovery
Randy came up with the concept of Brut/Brut Rosé and I was all in for a fun night of discovery and getting a full house full of people to give me their impressions. The night was a smash. People were on waiting lists to get a last minute reservation and that night, there was a indeed a group full of big voices and opinions. I love that stuff.
The two most interesting takeaways for me, there were three different cases where a winery's brut rosé had less Pinot Noir than their regular Brut….take that fibbing, “More Pinot more money” sales dudes!
Second takeaway, well it was something that have been saying for decades here at The Wine Country, it is all completely subjective. Which is why we have never fallen victim to the points system. Your “95” can be your neighbor's “86” and you would both be right. I mean, other than feeling like you had to give the damn thing a number value in the first place.
Were the rosé champagnes worth the extra money? To some of the crowd, absolutely they were, for whatever the reason, and others not. Wicked cool, this wine stuff isn’t it?
Me., I was split. Some wineries blew me away with their rosés and others floored me with their brut. Love that too. The one thing I was happy to rediscover is, there are a bunch of truly beautiful rosé champagnes on our shelves now and we are so very happy to have them back.
Welcome Back to Brut Rosé
This Brut Rose is made from equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a producer that makes around 5,000 cases, total annual production, so this is a rare wine indeed. This is one of those wonderfully aromatic Brut Rose. The nose is loaded with apples, black cherries, biscuit and cream. Just sumptuous and generous. Gloriously full but with a very fine stream of wee little bubbles.
$57.99 per bottle
Now this wine has been a store favorite for over a decade but with Laetitia Billiot at the helm the wines are more brilliant than ever! Made from 85% Pinot Noir you do find a deeper, more sultry weight and aromas here. It coats the mouth and stays for a very long time. A wine you could easily serve with red meats, ducks, salamis and hearty fishes. Just screaming good.
$54.99 per bottle
Hands down one of the sexiest Brut Roses we have. Made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and a wine I have always called, “A librarian in fishnet stockings, smart and sexy as hell” and it doing its thing like hell right now. Black fruit, pie dough, citrus, sweet cured ham and all with perfect bone structure and curves.
$66.99 per bottle
Now this is for the truly decadent wine lover. Always a cult like following for the wines from Vilmart They have a density and power that few can match. Deeply floral, showing black fruit as it is 90% Pinot Noir but it is the depth and length that steal your heart. Striking and without question a wine of noble texture and power. I was able to get one case so get at it bubble lovers.
$91.99 per bottle
Gobillard Brut Rose is for that person that thinks Rose Champagne is fruity nonsense. Here you have a wine made from 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier that is exceptionally dry and tangy. You get nice tart cherry and green apple skin along with a fierce mineral note mid palate. Light, airy, again very dry and super lacy in texture. White fishes, fried nibbles, olives and potato chips would adore this shy and reserved “pink” wine.
$61.99 per bottle