There are so many different ways to make sparkling wines: from dry, rich traditional method (also known as Champagne method) to lighter, fresher Charmat method (also known as tank method – think Prosecco), and then into a lower-alcohol, usually off-dry bubbly made in the ancestral method. There are so many different styles, even within those categories, but they are all available in pink! There are fabulous sparkling rosé wines from all around the world, but we will explore five distinct wines and regions.
We can start off with a classic: Rosé Champagne!
Champagne is made in something we usually call “Traditional Method”. It undergoes two separate alcoholic fermentations (that is, changing sugar to alcohol by way of yeast), with the second fermentation taking place in bottle. Once the second fermentation is done, the wine stays in the bottle with the lees (residues) of the yeast, usually for 18 months, but sometimes for more than 5 years! This lends the wine some of the characteristics of the yeast: brioche, bread, pastry, and doughy flavours, and helps give added complexity. This is where the very typical character of traditional method wine comes from! After the winemaker has decided that it is time for the wine to go to market, the bottles are disgorged, meaning the yeast is expelled from the bottle, and the crown cap is replaced with a cork.
Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage: This rich, dry Champagne is lovely and fruit-forward, drawing you in to heady notes of blackberries, ripe black cherries, and a citrusy note that is reminiscent of blood orange and honey pomelo.
One of my favourite traditional method rosés comes from the Niagara region of Canada. This small region is relatively new on the wine scene, but has been winning awards like crazy the last few years. It is well worth a visit, and with about 100 wineries in the area (and loads of other things to do), you will never get bored!
Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Rosé Brut: This sparkling rosé is pale salmon in colour, with elegant and mouth-watering aromas of brioche, wild strawberry, and lemon curd. On the palate, there is a fine, creamy mousse, with flavours of strawberry rhubarb pie, fresh red apples, and biscuits. Equal parts fun and serious, this lovely rosé is perfect any time of the year.
Just outside the vibrant city of Barcelona, the Penedès region of Spain is home to Cava – Spain’s answer to Champagne. Some of the most impressive traditional method sparklings are made here, housed in hundreds of miles of underground cellars. At Codorniù, one of the oldest Cava houses (it’s origins date back to 1551), you can visit the wine “cathedral”, which was designed by one of Gaudi’s apprentices. Then, take a train through their extensive cellars, and walk through the beautiful gardens while sipping your bubbles.
Codorniù Gran Codorniù Pinot Noir 2011: Beautifully salmon-pink in colour, this bold, elegant rosé shows intense notes of raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry, with an underlying band of citrus. On the palate, a fresh, creamy mousse accents ripe red berries and rich yeast-driven flavours.
Located in Dundee Hills, Oregon, Argyle has been making wine in the Willamette Valley since 1987. They are well known for their traditional method bubbles, winning consistent critical acclaim for their wines. In 2009, Argyle was named “Oregon’s Premier Winery” by Wine Spectator.
Argyle Brut Rosé 2012: Bright, salmon-pink in colour, look for an elegant bouquet of rose petal, pomegranate, tangerine, cranberry, and raspberry. On the palate, this dry, creamy bubbly is very well-balanced, with flavours of Meyer lemon, blood orange, and biscuits. Yum!
And now for something completely different! This unusual sparkling is made in the ancestral method, and comes in at 8% alcohol – perfect as a mid-day sipper. It comes from the tiny appellation of Bugey in the Savoie region of eastern France. Bugey only gained appellation status in 2009 – definitely a late bloomer!
Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon “La Cueille”: With just a hint of sweetness, this is the perfect party wine. Incredibly fragrant, with a deep rose tone, look for loads of wild strawberries in this fresh, bright summer sparkling.
Photo credit: NOUW