For this year’s Christmas toast, reacquaint yourself with the bubbly personality of French rosé Champagne, writes Toni Paterson.
Raise a glass of good cheer with French rosé Champagne.
“Champagne – the word alone brings into everybody’s mind festivities, celebrations and happiness.” Well, it seems nothing much has changed since these words were written in Britain’s Guardian newspaper more than 60 years ago.
Champagne has a natural affinity with the festive season. This year, I recommend seeking out one of the many excellent rosé Champagnes, which are not only fashionable but also delicious, complex and satisfying.
Rosé Champagne has had a long history. Records at the Ruinart Champagne house show that its first batch was shipped in 1764. Only small volumes were produced, despatched to wealthy European aristocrats. This early version was described as ‘ oeil de perdrix’ (eye of the partridge) in reference to its pale pink colour and coppery sheen, which was likened to the eye of the bird. This colour was thought
to have come from a brief maceration of red grapes, resulting in a pink-hued juice. There is also a reference to elderberries being used as a colorant.
‘Pink’ or ‘rose’ Champagne was also being sold in London in the early 19th century, though the references are scant, and once again it seems to have been a niche product for the wealthy.
Veuve Clicquot is thought to have been the first Champagne house to produce a modern rosé Champagne, which involves the addition of red wine, back in 1818. Today, there is an excellent range available in Australia, varying in style from delicate, pale examples to deeply coloured, assertive wines.
I’m a firm believer that the right food can bring out the best in Champagne. Dishes with a distinct umami element, such as a savoury pastry made with ham, parmesan and mushroom, will draw out the flavours in the most magnificent way.
Try these NV DEUTZ ROSÉ, $110 Pale pink, stylish and refined, with a fine bead, gentle savouriness and excellent palate tension. NV CHARLES HEIDSIECK ROSÉ RÉSERVE, $160 A gloriously rich and expressive Champagne, with great style and depth. NV RUINART ROSÉ, $120 Incredibly fresh and racy, with impressive palate weight, harmony and intensity. NV HENRI ABELÉ BRUT ROSÉ, $95 This is a highly complex Champagne, with nuances of savoury pastry, cream and meringue. Outstanding length and finesse. PIPER-HEIDSIECK ROSÉ SAUVAGE, $75 A powerful rosé Champagne with a deep pink colour and assertive nature. Its weighty mid-palate and gentle tannins make it fabulous with food.