The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. This means spring, and most importantly, rosé season.
Throughout France, there are strict regulations on how a rosé can be made. There are several techniques, but they all boil down to grape juice spending enough time on grape skins to extract a nice pink hue. The only exception to this rule is the Champagne region, where winemakers are allowed to blend red and white wine to create the desired color, structure, and flavor.
Varnier-Fanniere’s Grand Cru Brut Zero Rosé Champagne is made from such a process. They blend the base wine of their Cuvée St Denis, from 65 year old vines, with 90% Chardonnay and 10% of Grand Cru Pinot Noir from the village of Ambonnay.
Why ‘Brut Zero?’ It is a reference to the dosage, or the amount of sugar added after fermentation to obtain a desired level of sweetness. In this case, it is zero- a completely dry rosé Champagne, which is very rare.
The Varnier estate is small, just over 4 hectares in three grand cru villages in the northern Côte des Blanc where the grapes average 45 years old. Denis Varnier is the winemaker, only the third generation at the estate. But grape growing has been in the Fannière family (Denis’s mother’s side) since 1860. His wines are terroir expressive, displaying the graphite soils of the region.
On the nose you can find strawberry and raspberry fruits, while the palate is pure and austere with tart cherry, pepper, and minerality on the long finish. You can feel the tannins, although they meld beautifully with the texture of the mousse. If you’ve ever wanted to have Champagne with a steak, you have now met your match.