It's not the ten years on lees – the 2005 rosé had 11 years – or the 2mm smaller diameter bottle neck "to tighten the ageing" that chef de caves Cyril Brun calls a mini revolution, it's the dosage of the Rosé Millésimé 2008. At 7g/l, it's the lowest ever at Charles Heidsieck, lower even than for the 2008 white.
Is the Champagne house that has never been afraid of dosage finally bowing to the fashion for low-dosage? Apparently not. Explaining how he made the choice, Cyril Brun said that it could have gone either way, high or low – 11–12 g/l or below 8g – but not in the middle, where it was out of balance. It was the same, he says, with the 2008 white, where he settled on a dosage of 8g/l. He liked both high and low levels for the 2008s and, interestingly, says that if he thought people would keep the bottles for 20 years he would have been tempted to go for the higher dosage.
It's idle to speculate, but it would be fascinating to know what dosage the winemaker of the 2008s, Thierry Roset, would have decided on had he not died suddenly and tragically prematurely in October 2014. All Cyril says is that he thinks his wines are "not so different" from Thierry Roset's.
One thing he is sure about is that the 2008 rosé, like the white, will be long lived. Describing the profile as "very classic Champagne" and "slightly austere" compared to the more exotic, richer 2005 and 2006 rosés, he says the 2008 will close up and be "a marathon runner".
The blend is 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay from 11 Grand and Premier Crus. The Pinots came from Ambonnay, Aÿ, Verzy, Avenay, Tauxières and Les Riceys – Les Riceys' chalk soils rather than its red soils. 8% of the blend was vinified as red wine. The Chardonnay came from Oger, Vertus, Cuis and Chouilly and, as we know, the 2008 aged on its lees for 10 years and the dosage was 7g/l.
Charles Heidsieck Rosé 2008
Pale salmon colour – slightly paler than usual – with a gentle mousse. Enchanting aromas of strawberries, lightly toasted pain d'épices and Seville orange. The palate is a little more austere. Initially taut, chalky and mineral with a fine-chalk texture and an insistent salty orange freshness, it relaxes to become more creamy and substantial, but even then the richness and concentration are compressed in a firm, architectural frame. It's impressively long-lasting in the mouth. And I can say the same for its future. This is a vintage pink Champagne with time on its side. 12%
Importer: Liberty Wines
Photograph: Joanna Simon