Feeling effervescent and seeing the world through rosé-colored glasses at the festival that presents Champagne, sparkling wine and rosé from around the globe.
Celebrated novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” He would have been in his element at the Rosé and Bubbles Festival 2018, where I encountered more Champagne than I could potentially taste in one afternoon. What a heavenly conundrum.
I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day that I get the chance to bliss out in bubbles, especially such exquisite ones from Champagne houses like Michel Gonet, Jacquesson and Henriot. Yet there I was at the Leica Gallery in West Hollywood on a late August afternoon, noshing on Petrossian caviar blinis, wooed by more than 50 labels of Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, Cremant de Limoux Brut, Sparkling Brut and Brut Rosé. Yes, even pink bubbles. To be fair, in addition to fabulous fizz, plenty of lovely rosé was on offer, and we’ll get to my rosé report soon enough, but those who know me know my affinity for sparklers.
Let’s start with one of the only Champagne houses to offer vintage pours, Henriot. Their Brut Millésimé 2008 is a magnificent blend of ten Premier and Grand Cru Villages—50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. This signature cuvée has a light, fresh and creamy style with citrus and minerally notes. It’s gorgeous. However, at $100 a pop, for the love of all that is holy, please don’t waste it in a Mimosa or Kir Royale or any Champagne cocktails, for that matter. The only thing you should mix with these divine bubbles is your friends.
Despite the fact that 2012 was one of the most challenging growing seasons on record in the Champagne region (frosts, hailstorms and a very wet summer—yikes!), Louis Roederer produced an exceptional bottle in the 2012 Brut Millésimé Rosé. Elegant and rich with an intense bouquet of black currant and a pink grapefruit finish, it looked dazzling in the glass and was beautifully crisp on my tongue.
I also fell hard for Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée 741 Extra Brut. While it’s a non-vintage bottle, the Cuvée 741 is an expression of a certain year; in this case, the 2013 harvest. Comprised of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, these fine bubbles were crafted using only the first pressing of the grapes, yielding the most desired and highest quality juices.
About an hour in, I was feeling quite bubbly. But that’s only the half of it. Those who embrace a “Rosé All Day” lifestyle will be pleased to learn that there was no shortage of opportunities to drink pink. For some, rosé is summer in a glass, but who says summer must end? I think you truly can enjoy rosé across the seasons. In other words, All. Damn. Year.
I’m enamored with Provence. Besides being a stunningly picturesque and magical place to visit—lush fields of lavender, sapphire skies, windswept seashores, charming hilltop villages, charming hilltop gentlemen—the rosé produced in its three major appellations (Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence) tends to be fresh, crisp, bright and dry. A Provençal rosé contains significantly less sugar than those irritatingly sweet blush wines—the culprits that triggered all sorts of misperceptions about the category. This ain’t White Zinfandel, people!
I flitted about the festival, seeking out wineries from Provence, and discovered Cœur Clémentine Rosé, a fruity yet mineral-driven wine with an expressive nose that marries flowers and citrus fruit perfectly. It is an intriguing composition of Cinsault, Grenache, Tibouren and Mourvèdre, with an origin story that’s just as fascinating.
Cœur Clémentine is the handiwork of a tightknit trio of friends and rosé fanatics whose search for a high-quality Provençal rosé without the high price tag led them to make one themselves. Mission accomplished! Their $20 bottle earned a double gold medal at the 37th Annual San Francisco Wine Competition and scored 95 points. It also captured my cœur (heart).
Another wonderful rosé that delivers exceptional value is Fleur de L’Amaurigue, a light and lively composition of 60% Grenache and 40% Cinsault from an outstanding terroir in the heart of Provence. I tasted the 2017 vintage, which greeted me with aromas of exotic fruits, a delicate mouthfeel, a touch of apricot and a hint of minerality on the finish.
As is the case with rosé from Provence, Cœur Clémentine and Fleur de L’Amaurique are very food-friendly. These wines complement an array of dishes, from steamed vegetables and shellfish to spicy, full-flavored Latin and Asian cuisine. What about burgers? Oui. Barbeque? Bien sûr. Both bottles are delightful, festive and incredibly versatile. The next time you’re considering food and wine pairings, bring on the pink.
Props to Ian Blackburn and wineLA for hosting a chic and first-class tasting event that celebrated the great producers of Champagne, sparkling wine and rosé from around the world. Feel free to invite me back next year or just send me to France, where my cœur longs to be.
Copyright © Michelle Gigon/2018 Singular Communications, LLC.
Michelle Gigon is the Food, Wine & Spirits Editor for Singular magazine. On her list of favorite things are (A) discovering memorable epicurean experiences and (B) telling people about them. A former brand agent at CAA, Michelle is also a freelance creative director on lifestyle marketing initiatives for luxury automotive, hotel and fashion brands.