Serious Champagne: Moët et Chandon Releases Its 2006 Grand Vintage Rosé

An unsettled year yields wine of considerable depth and character

This is rosé with class.

It's something of an occasion when the estimable Champagne house of Moët et Chandon releases a Grand Vintage Rosé, their top-of-the-line pink wine; it has happened only 40 times in the last 95 years. The 2006 iteration of this luscious wine — almost half pinot noir, with about 33 percent chardonnay and the rest pinot meunier — has just appeared on the market, with a suggested retail price of $89.99 a bottle, and it's well worth the splurge.

 The weather was varied in Épernay, Moët's home territory, in 2006: a cold winter gave way to a heat wave, followed by cooler weather and rain, then more heat, and finally rain again at the end of the harvest. Because the crop was abundant, though, Moët was able to pick selectively, ending up with grapes that had good sugar levels and no trace of the bunch rot that affected some portions of the vineyard — though the chardonnay was slightly lower in acid than usual. Higher acidity in the pinot meunier evened this out nicely, and the finished product is beautifully balanced.

 It is also a big mouthful of wine. The light, coppery rosé Champagne style can be very attractive, sexy and lissome, but it seems a little frivolous compared to this Moët, which is serious wine with plenty of body and depth, some mineral-tinged astringency, and a long, complex finish. The nose is toasty, the mousse is fine but not too sharp, and the flavor suggests summer fruits with a whiff of savory herbs.

Bring a bottle of this to your end-of-summer brunch or early autumn supper and you'll earn about as many points as this wine will probably get from the critics — i.e., plenty.