In Time for New Year’s: Gold Medal Delavenne Champagne Rosé Grand Cru
We’ve been visiting Champagne since 1985, touring the labyrinthine caves beneath Reims and sipping Yellow Label aperitifs at Veuve Clicquot. We were taken with the glitz, the glam, the shininess of it all. Most of the wines, however, were forgettable, all a bit too sweet and yeasty, what we used to call “dressed up for the prom.” But who cared? Our egos had been polished. We’d “done” Champagne and had the Gucci ties and the Dior cologne handouts to prove it.
But as the years passed, our taste became more refined. By the early 1990s, we were steering clear of L’Avenue de Champagne in Épernay (purportedly the wealthiest street in France). Instead, we took to the hillside hamlets of the Montagne de Reims, knocking on the doors of Champagne’s artisanal “grower” estates, where impassioned winegrowers were turning out signature, chalk-infused sparklers that reminded us of fine Burgundy — with bubbles.
It would take over a decade to land an appointment at Chez Delavenne, courtesy of a sommelier introduction. On a warm July morning in 2008, we rang the bell outside the courtyard in Bouzy where one of the Montagne de Reims’ most decorated Grand Cru Rosés is made.
Jean-Louis Delavenne greeted us warmly, then led us toward the family’s modest cellars. There were no colorful scarves or Eau de Toilette. We couldn’t have cared less, having long since tired of the red carpet treatment. We’d come for the Grand Cru Rosé Champagne that had again stunned the les juges Champenois, outpointing the big boys and making off with the Gold Medal at Épernay.
In stark contrast to the stuffed-shirt demeanor of L’Avenue de Champagne, Jean-Louis and his son Jean-Christophe were perfectly understated. We tasted the entire Delavenne lineup over the better part of three hours. Each bottle was drawn from just 10 hectares of hand-tended limestone hillsides, all “riddled” in the cramped family cellar that Jean-Louis had manually excavated over the course of three years.
“Our production is very small, barely 6,000 cases each year,” Delavenne Sr. told us. “After you posed the question, we counted the number of private clients who come to Bouzy every year or two: There are 3,000. Before we met you, our largest customers were allocated 120 bottles per year.” Jean-Louis laughed. “And WineAccess wants HOW many?”
The Delavenne Père & Fils Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Cru Bouzy is salmon-pink in hue, infused with piercing aromas of wild strawberries, cassis, and kirsch. The attack is juicy, broad, and precise, infused with blood orange, white peach, and rose petals. Wonderfully refreshing on the mid-palate, braced by riveting Champenois acidity, this is the finest Delavenne Rosé we've tasted since our first visit.
Ok, there’s not much, but sometimes even we have to be happy with a small win. Retail price of $60. Offered today at just $39 for shipment in December — plenty of time for your New Year’s Eve bash. Shipping included on 4.