The Best Rosé Champagnes

Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

Champagne is a wine, a place, and a state of mind. Which is one of the reasons it’s perfect in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Some people might think they want a box of chocolates, but as romantic indulgences go, a bottle of rosé Champagne is infinitely better.

Over the last week, we did a series of double-blind tastings to see which rosé Champagnes we felt were the most refined, complex, and delicious. We found there’s a big swing in quality…not all rosés are created equal. Our eight fantastic winning rosés are below. You can scroll down to them right now, or stay with me for a minute for a few helpful tips on rosé Champagne in general.

First, rosé Champagnes are usually more expensive than golden Champagnes, a reflection of the fact that they are more rare (just 11% of all Champagne exports) and they’re a lot more difficult to make. There are two methods for making them. The first—and historical—method (called saignée) involves letting some of the base wines sit in contact with Pinot Noir skins until they pick up enough color to tint the wine pink. The other method (called d’assemblage) is more common today and involves adding a small amount of still Pinot Noir wine to the base wines before the wine is bottled and undergoes the second (bubble-causing) fermentation. Both processes are thorny, and achieving an exact coloration is difficult, as a lineup of rosé Champagnes (which range from pale copper to baby pink) will attest.

A rosé Champagne needn’t be made mostly from red grapes, although a number of them are. Indeed, a rosé could be made from 60 percent Chardonnay and only 40 percent Pinot Noir, because only a small amount of red wine is needed to achieve the pinkish color.

So here are our Top Eight Rosé Champagnes (listed alphabetically). All of them are extremely dry. (They ranged from 0 to 0.9 percent sugar). In our tastings, all of these rated between 92 and 96 points.

BOLLINGER Brut Rosé nonvintage (Champagne, FR) $120
Bollinger, one of the great, historic family-owned “houses” makes exquisite Champagnes that are always round, rich, and luxurious. Their rosé is kinetically alive, with high voltage flavors and minerality. The intensity and richness are the result of long aging on the yeast lees (30 to 36 months for this rosé). Bollinger is also one of the last remaining houses to vinify some of their best lots in impeccably-cared-for old oak barrels.
62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Meunier

CHARLES HEIDSIECK Rosé Reserve Brut nonvintage (Champagne, FR) $110
Another of the great old “houses,” Charles Heidsieck was one of the first Champagnes to be wildly popular in the United States (in the mid 1800’s when the house’s founder—known as “Champagne Charlie”—toured around the country). The rosé buzzes with freshness and has lots of red fruit, mandarin orange, and brioche notes. Layered, long, and taut.
40% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier

DRAPPIER Rosé de Saignée Brut nonvintage (Champagne, FR) $70
Eight generations of Drappiers have farmed what are now 240 acres of beautifully sited vineyards sitting on limestone. The wines are artisanal, with very low use of sulfites and long aging on lees. The rosé is made saignée from 100% Pinot Noir (which is uncommon). Loads of bright strawberry, raspberry, and Bing cherry notes. Chalky with a crème fraiche-like rich tanginess. Aromatics as fresh as mountain air. Pristine and rich.
100% Pinot Noir

LOUIS ROEDERER “Roederer et Starck” Brut Nature Rosé 2015 (Champagne, FR) $82
With zero sugar, vibrating acidity, and fresh flavors reminiscent of Meyer lemons and strawberry mousse, this is a sleek, elegant rosé from a top vintage. For all their richness, the Roederer Champagnes always have an aerial lightness to them. Roederer, one of the great old “houses,” is family-owned, and has been among the most environmentally conscious of all Champagne firms. This wine was a collaboration with the designer and artist Philippe Starck.
50% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay, 13% Pinot Meunier

MARC HÉBRART Rosé Mareuil sur-Aÿ Premier Cru Extra Brut nonvintage (Champagne, FR) $63
Marc Hébrart is one of my favorite Grower Champagnes, and I love the energy and vibrancy of their wines. Their Champagnes dance on the palate with a choreography all their own. This is a bone-dry filigreed rosé and tastes of spices, crystalline sea salt, warm homemade bread, and wild raspberries still on the briar. The Hebrart Champagnes also have that fantastic “starched” texture that’s the result of grapes grown in top vineyard sites (Premier Cru and Grand Cru) on limestone soils. So very sumptuous and long.
55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir

PHILIPPONNAT Royale Reserve Rosé Brut nonvintage (Champagne, FR) $85
A small jewel of a “house,” Philipponnat is still run by the Philipponnat family which began growing grapes in the region in 1522. (The father of Charles Philipponnat, the current owner, was also the head winemaker at Moët & Chandon from 1949 to 1977 and made the legendary 1961 Dom Pérignon.) Philipponnat’s extraordinarily precise and refined rosé has perfect form and “cut.” With both mouthwatering acidity and beautiful creaminess from long aging on the yeast lees, it’s like a sword enveloped in whipped cream. A wonderful balance of elegance and richness plus loads of chalkiness and lovely fruity/yeasty notes of strawberry Danish.
75% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier

TAITTINGER “Comtes de Champagne” Rosé 2007 Brut (Champagne, FR) $250
Made from grapes grown exclusively in Grand Cru villages in the Champagne region, Taittinger’s “Comtes de Champagne” vintage rosé is a prestige cuvée produced only in exceptional years. The wine is bold, layered, very rich, and considerably more intense than the house’s regular rosé. The wine’s finesse and filigreed character—as well as its very tiny bubbles—come from very long aging on the yeast lees (12 years). Superb and powerful.
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay

VEUVE FOURNY ET FILS Rosé Brut Premier Cru (Champagne, FR) $71
I could easily drink this wine all night. The chalky taut feel; the cherry blossom and wild rose aromas; the flavors—like some unreal version of a not-sweet strawberry shortcake (fruity, creamy, biscuity). There’s lots of finesse here, too. Charles and Emmanuel Fourny head up this small “Grower Champagne” estate and work with 40 year old vines grown on chalk and limestone in Premier Cru villages.
50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir


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