Rosé Champagne

2014: Gold: 0; Silver: 4; Bronze: 8; Commended: 1
2013: Gold: 2; Silver 5; Bronze: 4
Must-list index: 80%
Overall performance SWA 2014: D

Traditionally, of course, rosé Champagne is the drink of romance. But in the past our tasters’ blind dates with this category have often resulted (metaphorically) in the kind of evening they’d sooner forget rather than declarations of love.

There was still a bit of that this time. Overheard from one taster was the somewhat double-edged comment: ‘On the nose it’s not the kind of Champagne you would want to put in your mouth, but once you get it there it’s OK.’ A bit like saying: ‘He/she looks OK if you keep your eyes closed.’

Such ambivalence rather summed up rosé Champagne’s performance this year. We had a lot of entries to choose from and a lot of decent wines, but not a great deal to get genuinely excited about – perhaps because of a stylistic shift towards food-friendliness.

‘There seemed to be a general move towards less sugar, especially at the top end,’ said Garry Clarke of The Chester Grosvenor. ‘I like the fact that there’s more austerity. It makes them more food-friendly.’

Although if ‘food-matching’ is the answer for rosé Champagne, you have to wonder about how sensible the question was in the first place.

In the past, pricing has been an issue for this category, but our tasters now seem to be resigned to funding the champenois need for a new car every year. ‘The value was surprisingly good, from cheap to expensive,’ said Julien Sahut from China Tang at The Dorchester.

Though it’s significant that only two wines came in under £20 and most were over £30, which is hardly cheap for NV, however much of it you think you’ll sell on weddings, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.

And certainly the fact that none made the final Gold List is an indictment of a flight that could probably best be described as ‘a bit meh’.

‘It’s unfortunate, but none of the Champagne pinks really delivered for the money compared to the pinks from elsewhere,’ said Gold List co-ordinator Christine Parkinson. ‘The [Taittinger Comtes] is clearly a wine of serious pedigree, but it’s still too young.’

If you want pink fizz that really over-delivers, you need to turn the page…

From the Tasting Teams

‘I’m definitely trying to move Champagne away from being a celebration drink and to being more of a food wine.’
Garry Clarke, The Chester Grosvenor

‘There were some big differences in terms of style and quality. It made it hard to reach decisions – everyone liked different styles.’ Olivier Marie, Le Coq d’Argent

‘Consumers of serious wines don’t drink rosé Champagne… it’s the brand and the colour selling it. Retailers will do better out of these than the on-trade.’ Matt Segal, Frederick’s