Champagne Henriot Rose Brut and Jaume Serra Cristalino Rose Brut

Wine: Champagne Henriot Rose Brut

Grapes: pinot noir (48 percent), chardonnay (45 percent), pinot meunier (7 percent)

Region: Reims, Champagne, France

Vintage: nonvintage

Price: $49.99

In the glass: Henriot Rose Champagne is a bright salmon-pink color with a clean, clear appearance going out into a faint, almost glass-clear meniscus with medium-high viscosity. Tiny bubbles rise in fine bead-strings up from the bottom to the top of the glass, which is the mark of great champagne.

On the nose: It has a highly attractive nose with oodles of pomegranate juice, tons of bready minerality, almost Burgundian-like red pinot-style fruit with really sexy notes of acai berries and sloe fruit, and then hints of grilled bread, toasted almonds and even hints of raspberries.

On the palate: It is immediately rich and mouth-filling with red fruit up front, then lovely toasty notes of white grape juice, sourdough bread, hints of citrus and other white fruits. That blend of great terroirs from the Champagne region really shows here. It is lengthy and balanced through the midpalate without being overly fizzy, and has a nice toasty complex finish.

Wine: Jaume Serra Cristalino Rose Brut

Grapes: pinot noir (60 percent), trepat (40 percent)

Region: Penedes, Catalonia, Spain

Vintage: nonvintage

Price: $7.99

In the glass: Cristalino Rose is a brilliant antique-rose color with a clean, clear appearance and tiny bubbles rising up from the center; deep salmon at the core, it goes out into a fine light pink rim definition with medium viscosity.

On the nose: The bubbliness in this wine is inobtrusive, meaning CO² doesn’t attack your nostrils, like some other sparklers do. It has fresh-cut strawberries, raspberry sorbet, cranberry juice and hints of chalky minerality and freshly kneaded dough, with underlying red flowers and steely notes.

On the palate: The wine is a flavor bomb of red fruit medley with dominating strawberry, raspberry and red currant over layered and quite complex blood orange, red grapefruit segments, fresh bread and minerals. The midpalate, once the majority of the bubbles have dissipated, is rounded and excellently balanced with the red fruits, measured acidity and lovely touches of tannins that seamlessly integrate into the lingering finish.

Odds and ends: The United States is now the biggest overall market for wine in the world by both volume and value. Champagne prices have increased even in tough economic times, because of the claimed "shortage" by the producers in France, but this has not held people back from continuing to buy it.

Fortunately, this is the end of the year and there are bound to be some great deals in the market. I have come to the conclusion that we need to drink rose bubbly for this holiday season, because despite all the turmoil, we still need to celebrate in style.

Cristalino Rose is ounce-for-ounce the greatest value "methode champenoise" bubbly in the world! Nothing can compare with this delicious rose sparkler at this price. Made from an interesting blend of classic pinot noir and the indigenous ancient grape varietal trepat, this is your perfect choice for the holidays if you don’t want to splurge too much. Bottle variation is the main issue with this one, but when you find the right bottle — and keep trying — you will agree that nothing within $40 of this comes even close.

As far as Henriot Rose goes, this is one stylishly elegant champagne that usually costs upward of $75. The bottle is the classic chubby flask style, mimicking the bottles from the 17th century, and it is an elegant beverage to serve up for any celebration, naturally including New Year’s Eve. The House of Henriot is one of great prestige and this is a far more exclusive brand than, for example Veuve Clicquot, which makes it an easy selection for the annual bubbly review.

These are both great representatives of champagne and sparkling wine and whichever one you choose, if not both, you’ll have a very merry time indeed. Remember to chill them to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit before drinking and serve them in white wineglasses rather than champagne flutes, for maximum enjoyment. Happy holidays.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at

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