With summer underway, kicking back with a chilled glass of rosé is a great way to beat the heat. As much as we enjoy imbibing sparkling wines of the Champagne region, we're equally interested in the scientific and gastronomic process behind their creation. To learn more we sat down with Elise Losfelt—sixth generation oenologist and youngest member of Moët & Chandon's team of 10 master winemakers— for a tasting of their newly released 2004 Grand Vintage Rosé.
"The year is really what matters," Losfelt says, "the rain, the sun, all of these natural, variable factors influence the character of each vintage." Not every year gets its own vintage, it takes an exceptional crop of grapes to warrant producing a special wine for that year. While Moët's Impérial series aims for consistency by blending several base wines from several years, vintages are produced from wines from a singular year. As a result, they have bold personalities and stand out with unique qualities from each year. According to Losfelt, producing the Impérial and maintaining that consistency from year to year is extremely challenging in light of variable natural conditions. "Creating the Impérial is a rational and scientific process," Losfelt says, "but when producing a vintage, you rely on emotions—it is much more creative."
The 2004 Grand Vintage is certainly not short of creativity and boldness on the palate. Contrary to what many might assume is a sweet wine, the 2004 is refreshingly dry with a slight tannic quality brought on by its inclusion of Pinot Noir varietals. While the blend of varietals varies from vintage to vintage, Moët's winemakers strive for a blend that compliments each grape. With an almost copper hue, the 2004 presents a bold bouquet of black currants with a hint of spice. There is a silkiness on the palate which is followed by a slight kick on the end.
"The fruit notes in this wine are playful," Losfelt says, "this means they hide themselves on the palate and are revealed with different food pairings." The notes Losfelt refers to are best shown when paired with spicy, fresh flavors such as curry and Thai cuisine. Be careful of pairing rosé with sweet dishes and especially avoid pairing with desserts. "The acidity of the wine and the sweetness of the dish will not work together," Losfelt says. "Imagine pairing a glass of lemon juice with a chocolate cake, it's the same principle," she says with a laugh. Be sure to ditch the narrow champagne flutes opting instead for a white wine shape. "When you drink champagne out of a glass that is narrow, the taste is also narrow," Losfelt says. The narrow design of champagne flutes results in champagne missing the first part of the palate, meaning a lesser tasting experience.
The 2004 Grand Vintage is now available at fine wine and spirit stores across the world with an average price of $80.
Estate image courtesy of Moët & Chandon, all others by Hans Aschim