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Rosé is Riveting

An effervescent appreciation of some recent sparkling wines and champagnes



Let's hear it for flowers, chocolates and pink Champagne! Wait, why am I hearing more scoffs and groans that moans and sighs? Look, nobody had any more say about this Valentine's Day business than they did about inventing the seven-day week, so get right with it—the road to hell is paved with bottles of unpopped pink sparkling wine.

Four sparkling wines and one Champagne were tasted sort-of-blind, allowing for different styles of bottles. All of these wines are enjoyable in their own way, and it seems unfair to coldly assign them a point score. So they're ranked in order of favorites. (Don't we all do that, anyway?)

Chandon 40th Anniversary Cuvée Sonoma County Sparkling Rosé ($40) This was released in 2013 to celebrate the winery's beginning. Wouldn't it be a coup to use it to celebrate your own 40th anniversary? Act fast, because it's a limited production that is nearly sold-out; after it's gone, there'll be no use crying for more. It's a pale, copper-tinged salmon pink, with the finest of bubbles. Aromas of maple syrup, raisins and faint hints of hazelnut may or may not strike one as ideal, but wait for the glazed-fruit-topped cheesecake aromas. This wine wins because it's a little different, a little sensual.

Chandon Étoile North Coast Sparkling Rosé ($50) Salmon pink, with strawberry candy and meaty yeast aromas, this has a salty sensuality to it and the aroma of a real pink rose. Roiling mousse, a raspberry palate and a confected, lip-smacking finish.

Korbel California Brut Rosé ($12) The hue of a cruel, salmon-pink dawn. Aromas of sulfured apricots initially, leading to peach juice flavors and a classic, yeasty note. The Korbel might be a cheap date, but it's reliable, fun and—who knew?—a little kinky: there's Sangiovese, Gamay, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc in the party with Pinot Noir.

Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage Champagne ($60) Deep apricot-pink, with aromas of blood orange and a gassy aspect that blows off after a while to reveal tantalizing aromas of just-crushed Pinot Noir grapes. It's got hot pink packaging, but its mood is gothic and brooding.

Domaine Carneros Cuvée de la Pompadour Carneros Brut Rosé ($36) It's got the brightest, pinkest hue of the bunch, but there's not much to report after that. Pink grapefruit aroma, pink grapefruit flavor, some strawberry. It's creamy and fruity enough—maybe it didn't rate so high because it's just so nice and well-adjusted and would pair really agreeably with a variety of brunchy cuisine. Sure, it's not gothic and brooding like the Piper-Heidsieck (see above), but it'll wait faithfully for you. Is the finish a little bitter? Have a damn bonbon.


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