A couple of weekends ago, I conducted another Blind Tasting at our humble little abode here in Houston, to which I invited other wine writers from the area. As you may recall, I conduct a tasting of American True Rosés in the Spring, and the second was this Fall when I tasted through American Pinot Noirs.
All of the blind tastings (now sixteen in total) have produced some surprises, which is, quite frankly, why tasting blind from time to time is healthy. It is often too easy to be influenced by price, producer, or PR firm when tasting non-blind, and it is also good to “re-center” one’s palate in a way—to focus only on what is in the glass.
Why do I limit my tasting to just American sparkling wine? Good question. As any casual reader of this space knows, I am a bit of a champagne hound. I dare to mention how many bottles from what I consider the world’s greatest wine region actually reside in this house currently. But. There is no doubt that American sparkling wine has made great strides and while I hesitate to assert that Yankee bubbles have “caught up” to their French counterparts, I do maintain that the top-end American sparklers give Champagne a run for the money.
Here is the first half of the 20 rosé sparklers that we tasted a fortnight ago. I will publish the remaining ten notes on Monday as well as my overall top wines and what I consider to be the “best value” wines from the tasting.
2021 Bending Branch Winery Texas Tannat Frizzante Rosé Wine, TX: Retail $25. Information about this wine is scant on their website, but it seems as though it is carbonated, not the traditional method. Medium pink with some orange undertones. Muted nose but some rich red fruit does eventually come through. Maybe a bit medicinal? That medicinal note comes through on the palate as well, but so does a ton of that red fruit. Very Good. 89 Points.
NV Laetitia Winery Brut Rosé, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA: Retail $39. 65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir. Fairly light in color, almost a Provençal pink with some peach and red berry fruit. Quite fantastic on the palate with an impeccable balance between the luscious fruit and the zingy acidity. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2016 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir. Fairly dark for a rosé, but not quite a light red. Despite considerable coaxing, not much on the nose here. Not much fruit on the palate either, but decent acidity and notable minerality. Very Good. 88 Points.
2018 Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé, Carneros, CA: Retail $54. 90% Pinot Noir & 10% Chardonnay. Very light pink, maybe lighter than your average rose from Provence. Faint wild strawberry on the nose, but much fruitier on the palate, quite nice with nice tartness, particularly on the finish. Excellent. 92 Points.
2020 Pedernales Cellars Kyla, Texas Hill Country, TX: Retail $35. Tempranillo Pet Nat. Light to Medium color with a dirty wild strawberry nose and maybe some peach. Fervent sparkle and plenty of tartness on the palate, with decent fruit. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé, CA: Retail $24. 73% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir, 1% Pinot Meunier. Light to medium color with a peach/cherry nose with a touch of funk. No funk on the palate, which is actually quite lovely: good fruit, acid, and depth. Nice. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé, Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $36. 56% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay. Light to medium, with a scrumptious nose: sweet nectarine and cherry. Fantastic on the palate as well with a near-perfect balance of red fruit, zingy acidity, and layers of complexity. Yowza. Fantastic. Outstanding. 95+ Points.
NV Domaine Carneros Cuvée de la Pompadour Brut Rosé, Carneros, CA: Retail $42. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Fairly light in color with a funky nose (I love the funk), with not much fruit at least initially. The palate, though, explodes with fruit on the palate, with a near-perfect balance. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2017 Stoller Pinot Noir Legacy LaRue’s Brut Rose, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. 84% Pinot Noir, 16% Chardonnay. More of a fairly light orange than a pink with some faint peach and strawberry notes on the nose. This feels like there might be some age as I am getting an oxidative note along with really tart (and abundant) fruit. Salinity. I like it. But everyone else might not. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir. Another wine that is perhaps more orange than pink with a ripe red fruit nose and hints of celery. The palate is quite nice, mineral, and earthy, with nice fruit and great acidity. Yeah. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.