… and you don’t have a really long time — like, about six hours — to decide (and buy) what you’re going to offer to your sweetheart — of whatever persuasion, genre, gender, age, nationality — in terms of vinous pleasure at whatever kind of festivity you have planned tonight, whether full-fledged romantic dinner, discreet tête à tête or a discussion about the nature of love vis-a-vis Plato and Augustine in a bosky dell, so let’s cut to the freakin’ chase, brothers and sisters, and remember two words: Brut Rosé, as in Champagne and other forms of sparkling wine. I’m just trying to help.

Image from clipartguide.com

Three from the actual Champagne region of France:

The pale copper-salmon Bollinger Brut Rosé — Bollinger is purveyor to the British Royal Family, so the label is getting a lot of play this spring — is as high-toned and elegant as brut rose gets; this is very dry, all steel and stones, but with hints of strawberry shortcake and biscuits, dried red currants, an idea more than a notion of cinnamon toast with a touch of orange marmalade, but still supremely poised and sophisticated. It’s a blend of 62 percent pinot noir grapes, 24 chardonnay and 14 pinot meunier. Very impressive for the beloved; he or she will love you for this. Excellent. About $100.
Terlato Wines International. A sample for review.

Not to make this all educationy, but notice the slight difference in the blend for the Taittinger Prestige Rosé (in comparison to the Bollinger Brut Rosé above): 55 percent pinot noir, 30 chardonnay and 15 pinot meunier. Many other factors are involved, natch, but the Taittinger Prestige Rosé comes out a little rounder, a little more creamy/crisp in effect; fresh bread, macerated raspberries, dried strawberries with a touch of something wild like mulberries (dark and musky), and tantalizing elements of orange zest, cloves and almonds. Quite substantial yet effortless and ineffable. Excellent, again, irresistible, a playful kiss that mid-way turns serious. Prices around the U.S.A. range from about $55 to $75.
Kobrand Corp. A sample for review.

Third in this triumvirate is the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé, and the blend here is 60 percent pinot noir, 30 pinot meunier and 10 chardonnay, an interesting reversal of the latter two grapes. The color and bead are entrancing, like a foam of pale golden fireworks seething in a faint tangerine/topaz sheathe that at the bottom is almost transparent. Yes, and add to that enchantment dried strawberries and cranberries (with the latter’s hint of wild tartness), toasted almonds and brioche, an elevating aura of crisp and crystalline acidity, effervescence and transparent-seeming limestone. Really attractive and rated Very Good+. Prices around our nation vary from about $35 to $49, so this is the bargain of the group.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Not a sample.
Three alternatives, because as fine as Champagne can be, all the world’s sparkling wine is not produced in that august region nor does it have to be so expensive; you pays yer money and you takes yer choice:

The pale peach/copper colored Mumm Napa Brut Rosé, Napa Valley, used to be the winery’s Blanc de Noirs, but Brut Rose, after all, sounds a little more romantic and enticing. Made from 85 percent pinot noir grapes and 15 percent chardonnay, this is boldly spicy, intense, with well-wrought heft and dimension; strawberry/raspberry with dried red currants, orange zest, spiced tea; dry, crisp, stony, smoky. Mesmerizing stream of tiny bubbles; dynamic effervescence and tone, gratifying concentration and weight; close to elegant. Excellent. About $24, though often discounted as low as $19.
Not a sample.

After its torrent of tiny glistening bubbles in a pale copper/onion skin hue, the Scharffenberger Brut Rosé, Mendocino County (54 percent pinot noir, 46 chardonnay), is refined and polished, exquisitely proportioned in its emphasis on spareness and suppleness; layers of limestone and flint envelop notes of dried raspberries and red currants, orange zest and orange Pekoe tea buoyed by lively acidity; a few minutes in the glass unfold more ripeness and fleshiness, as if the fruit were more spiced and macerated than dried. Really charming. Very Good+. Suggested retail price is about $25, though I (gratefully) paid $19.
Not a sample, obviously.

I tasted — i.e., drank all I could get my hands on — of the Alma Negra Malbec Rosé 2009 back in October when I was in its home region of Mendoza, Argentina, and I was pleased to find that it’s available in the U.S. of A., though only 2,000 cases were produced, so you may have to make a few phone calls in its behalf. This is absolutely delightful, though quite subtle, a weaving of dried strawberries with peach, orange rind, hints of toasted almonds and a bit of almond blossom; dry and thoroughly laced with limestone yet soft in texture, almost cloud-like, so suave and drinkable. Plus, it has this great, mysterious packaging! Very Good+. About $20, though you can find it as low as $17.
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