Wine with Leslie Williams: The best pink sparkling wines and champagnes

Champagne is a drink that works all year round, as welcome on a chilly Christmas morning as on a hot day in June.

Wine with Leslie Williams: The best pink sparkling wines and champagnes

Champagne is a drink that works all year round, as welcome on a chilly Christmas morning as on a hot day in June.

Krug Champagne is celebrating June and July with a by-the-glass offer in Greenhouse and in Rosa Madre restaurants, both of which have created a special dish, including capsicum peppers, Krug’s chosen ingredient.

I can confirm that Mickael Viljanen’s tartare of scallops, with frozen oyster and an elderflower and Jalapeño pepper jus, works like a dream with the textured citrus, brioche, and lime zest-tinged Krug Grande Cuvée, and I like the sound of Rosa Madre’s anchovies, marinated with red and yellow pepper dish. Krug is not something most of us can afford by the bottle, so glass offers are to be encouraged.

Lanson Champagne also visited Dublin recently. Best of their bunch was their Gold Label 2008 (€65, O’Briens), which had nice depth and fullness, compared to the typical, leaner Lanson-style, which eschews malolactic fermentation. I also liked the Green Label organic, which had smoky citrus and pear flavours (€75 in O’Briens).

In 2011, Lanson bought a 17-hectare, biodynamic-certified vineyard from (the excellent) House of Leclerc-Briant and they have continued using all manner of potions, tisanes, algae sprays, and even music in the vineyard to bring out the best in the grapes.

You read that last bit correctly: it seems it is possible to notate the amino acids in the plant cells and translate the genetic code into music notation. Music helps the molecules in the plant resist mildew and wood disease.

It is played in the early morning, at noon, and in the evening, but doesn’t work for oidium (powdery mildew); only for downy mildew. So now you know; Irish fruit and potato farmers may wish to take note.

All my selections this week are for pink fizz and range in price from low to very high. I love the extra textures and touches of red fruit in pink sparkling wine and Champagne.

Pink fizz is almost always more expensive than blanc. While it is more troublesome to produce, I do think producers have mostly just decided it should cost more because it looks prettier — the pink tax, they call it, whereby women pay more for pink razors and haircuts.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

M&S Cava Rosado Non Vintage, Spain — €10.50

Stockist: Marks & Spencer

Made with 93% Garnacha and 7% Trepat this is a ridiculously good value pink Cava from M&S. With around 9g of dosage this has a little richness while remaining fully dry on the finish. Aromas of raspberries and red currants, fruity but crisp with lingering tart red fruit flavours and a pleasingly soft mousse.

L’Extra par Langlois Rosé, Loire, France — €19.95

Stockist: O’Briens

I’ve featured the Langlois Château still wines here in the past, both the Chenin Blanc and their Saumur-Champigny but I think this is my first mention of their fizz. This is onionskin in colour with bright red fruits and a tart redcurrant freshness and good length. The Blanc version is usually this price but has €2 off in O’Briens this month. Proper fizz at a great price.

Castellore Organico Vino Rosé pumante, Italy — €13.49

Stockist: Aldi

Made in the Charmat method as used in Prosecco where the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled under pressure. This is full fizz Spumante (rather than light frizzante) with a pretty pale pink colour and red fruit and floral aromas, soft on the palate with more red fruits and a crisp fruity finish. There is also a non-organic version at just over a tenner.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Croser NV Sparkling, Adelaide Hills, Australia — €27.95

Stockist: O’Briens

Made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in the cooler Adelaide Hills region in South Australia, a region chosen specifically by Croser who specialise in traditional method fizz. This has strawberry fruit aromas with a yeasty citrus character, smooth and fruity on the palate but with pleasing crisp acidity. The NV blanc is also good and on offer for €22.95 in O’Briens.

Lanson Rosé NV, Champagne, France — €47.95 (was €58)

Stockists: O’Briens, www.wineonline.ie, widely available.

Lanson are a solid old Champagne House (1760) and the standard black label is on offer in O’Briens for €36.95. The house’s insistence on a non-malolactic style means their wines are bone dry. This has very pale onion skin colour, textured red apple and soft baked bread and lemon peel, red fruit on the mid-palate and lingering apple skin and citrus on the finish.

Krug Rosé Champagne, France — €429.40

Stockists: O’Briens, The Corkscrew, On the Grapevine, Mitchell & Sons, Jus de Vine, Greenacres.

Yes, I know. This is a mad price but can’t we dream? Regular (gorgeous) Grande Cuvée Krug costs €215 so this is double. But this is my favourite. Densely textured, lingering and complex with layers of red fruit mixed with soft brioche flavours, as elegant a drink you will ever taste.

Contact Leslie Williams at wine@examiner.ie

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