Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day with Bollinger Brut Rosé

It’s Valentine’s Day, which for many people means spending hours gazing lovingly into the eyes of their loved ones, “Unchained Melody” playing softly in the back of their head like some sort of cupid-y soundtrack, and uttering phrases more suited to Hallmark cards than real human conversation.

But for me, it means Champagne.

Don’t get me wrong here: I plan on sharing a bottle with my wife, and probably even rubbing a bit of it on my daughter’s lips--because, after all, Champagne is always meant to be shared with those you care about and love. (And, in my 10-week-old daughter’s case, it’s never too early to get her to appreciate good Champagne.) Personally, though, Valentine’s Day is a fantastic annual excuse to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly and pair it with something special.

Tonight, then, I’ll be cooking up something with lobster and mushrooms, probably a risotto, and enjoying a bottle of Bollinger Brut Rosé, a consistently excellent wine that seems custom-made for this day.

Laser-point bubbles, delicate lacing, and a beautiful burnished salmon color make this wine intensely appealing before you even take a sip. The first sniff from the glass is enough to remind you both why Bollinger is among the most revered of the top houses, as well as the intrinsic and multi-faceted benefits of rosé Champagne in general. It speaks of some sort of perfect bakery first thing in the morning, just as the strawberry-filled pastries are coming out of the oven. There are candied cherries in there too, as well as a bass-note of pie crust. These are supremely evocative; you just want to keep smelling them. When you do finally take a sip, the house-typical creaminess is cut by beautifully balanced acidity, tiny farmers’ market strawberries, and cherries. It manages to be both bright and deep at the same time, eliciting notes of minerals, lead pencil, and subtle fruit, though the fruit of the palate is less sweet and pronounced than the overall impression of the nose--a very appealing bookend.

Drinking this well, and sharing it with the two ladies of the house on our first Valentine’s Day as a family? What a perfect way to celebrate the holiday.


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