Sunday, March 4, 2012
An Outstanding Rosé Champagne
Every once in a while, you taste a wine that really makes you sit up and notice. There are many reasons for this- perhaps it's the aromatic profile or maybe it's the balance, persistence or structure. I find it often has to do with another factor - the wine is delicious! I recently tried the Benoit-Lahaye Brut Rosé from a small grower-producer in Champagne and from the first sip, I knew I had found a new favorite.
Benoit-Lahaye is located in Bouzy, a town very famous for its Pinot Noir. In fact, it is so famous that when you start to research other producers of Champagne to discover where the Pinot Noir for their Rosé was sourced, more often than not, it's Bouzy. However, most growers make their rosé with Pinot Noir vinified as a red wine; this is then blended with Chardonnay for the final wine.
Benoit-Lahaye however makes their rosé Champagne according to an approach known as saignée. This process, which is also known as "bleeding," is one in which the rosé is made from free run Pinot Noir juice which has been macerated and bled from the skins after the grapes have been destemmed. This is a more "pure" manner in which to make top-quality Rosé Champagne; it is however, an technique not in use by the majority of producers. Benoit-Lahaye by the way, labels his Rosé Saignée as Rosé de Maceration.
Everything about this wine is impressive, from the deep strawberry color to the beautiful fresh strawberry and currant fruit aromas to the notable richness on the palate and finally to the lengthy finish. The bubbles are ultra-fine and persistent, the mid-palate is quite generous and the acidity is lively and perfectly tuned. The complexity is dazzling and the overall balance is flawless. I basically have run out of words to describe this stunning wine; this is simply one of the very finest Rosé Champagnes I have ever tasted.
I was not familiar with Benoit-Lahaye, so I did a google search and noted that several bloggers who write about Champagne mention him as a grower/producer that everyone is talking about. It's nice to see that confirmation from other Champagne lovers as well. Not that I would have changed my mind about this wine if I had read opposing opinions for some reason, but it's clear that this is one of Champagne's very best!