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Rosé Champagne - How to Find The One You Love, part 2

Jiles Halling

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In part 1 of this blog we sort of dived in at the deep end with the big, bold rosés de saignée.
Next up is ‘Rosé d’Assemblage’ the more delicate and refined cousin, if you like, which is by far the more common way to make pink champagne. Assemblage (pronounced asomblarge) means ‘blending’ in French, and that’s what they do.

They start with the still white wine made from the crushed grape juice and then simply add a little still red wine (made in the champagne region, of course). Then this blend then goes through the normal champagne-making process which creates the bubbles and turns the wine into rosé champagne. Incidentally Champagne is the only wine-making area in France allowed to make rosé wine in this way; everywhere else in France it has to be done using the saignée method.

Rosé champagne made by the assemblage method is usually paler in colour and lighter in flavour than if it’s made by the saignée method. The exact colour and flavour depend on the amount of red wine that is added: the more red wine, the darker the colour and the fuller the flavours. Something around 10% red wine is typical. Anything much more than that and you’d end up with something closer to a rosé de saignée which is not what this type of rosé is all about. Again, to give you a point of reference, Moët & Chandon, Mumm and most other rosé champagnes are rosés d’assemblage.

Because most rosé champagnes are made by the assemblage method there are hundreds to choose from, but two you may not have heard of, and which I'd recommend without question, are Franck Bonville Rosé, Grand Cru and Collard Chardelle Rosé. Franck Bonville is based in the village of Avize in La Côte des Blancs where the white Chardonnay grapes  rule supreme. Franck Bonville's rosé reflects the location and it's light, bright and classy, with a lovely pale pink colour.

Collard Chardelle is from La Vallée de La Marne area of Champagne, where Pinot Meunier grapes are in the majority. You won't be surprised to know then, that there is 50% Pinot Meunier in Collard Chardelle rosé. The other 50% is Pinot Noir, so there is no Chardonnay is this at all. ( Smaller growers tend to source grapes from near where they live so, when you know where they are based, that can immediately give you a clue as to what style of champagne they produce). The result is a rich, cherry-red colour, and plenty more cherry-like taste in the champagne itself.

A very fruity rosé this, with a soft, almost sweet texture - really easy to drink. Now you’ve read both parts of this post, you know that there are two types of pink champagne, and that gives you the power to choose the style you like. ( to read part 1 go here Personally I’d go for a blended (assemblage) rosé as an aperitif before a meal, especially if it’s a nice warm, sunny day.

This style of rosé just seems light and bright and right for that kind of occasion. If I were having a meal and were going to sit down and really savour the champagne then I reckon it would be a rosé de saignée for me, but it’s entirely up to you, so whatever you like is right.

So what does this all mean for you?..... Well, the first thing to do is to decide which of the two styles you prefer – more champagne-drinking practice needed I’m afraid! It’s tough, I know, but someone’s got to do it.

Because most rosé champagne is rosé d’assemblage, this is probably the style you’ll have come across already. If so, try looking for a rosé de saignée next time, just so that you know the different tastes.

Then, when you’ve decided which of the two styles you prefer, you can try other champagnes like it until you find the one that’s perfect for you. Let me know which one’s your favourite. 

Stay Bubbly - Jiles

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