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. This most recent iteration was the fifth annual tasting of American sparkling wines.
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.
This is the last of four installments for my Fifth Annual World’s Largest Blind Tasting of American Sparkling Wines, and the final ten rosés from the group of 20 pink wines. There were 49 wines in total, making it the largest of the five sparkling wine tastings that we have had.
I started this tasting five years ago with the aim of shining a bit of light on the sparkling wines being made in this country. It wasn’t (and isn’t) meant to be a competition with Champagne, but rather to highlight wines from both widely available producers and a few that are only available direct from the winery.
At the end of the notes, I have also listed the top wines from this year’s tasters, my top wines (at least as I see them), and those that I consider to be the best values.
NV Chemistry Pinot Noir Rosé Bubbles, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. 100% Pinot Noir. Fruity and fun on this medium-colored wine. The palate follows the lead of the nose and is fruity, fun, and well-made. Yeah, I could drink the heck out of this. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Korbel Sweet Rosé, California: Retail $16. Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Gamay, Chenin Blanc. Cotton candy pink, with a cherry Jolly Rancher vibe on the nose. Tons of fruit, quite sweet on the palate. This has its place and those who are in that place would love the heck out of it. Very Good. 88 Points.
2018 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Brut Rosé La Bohème, Yamhill – Carlton, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $60. 100% Pinot Noir. Fairly dark in color with darker red fruit (black cherry, maybe even plum) on the nose, while the palate is quite fruity with great acidity, and balance. Outstanding. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Rosé, Carneros, CA: Retail $25. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Really light in color, barely a rosé. Floral, fruity, but also shy. Another lovely wine on the palate. Holy cow: great balance between the fruit and acidity, the right amount of dosage. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2016 Stoller Pinot Noir Legacy LaRue’s Brut Rose, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. Quite funky on the nose which might be due to the age? Almost no color. Great tartness, the fruit is a bit oxidized, and a lengthy finish. I like it. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé, Carneros, CA: Retail $62. 92% Pinot Noir & 8% Chardonnay. Really light cotton candy with a sweet ripe strawberry nose. Really lovely palate with tons of fruit. Not sweet, but ripe and wonderful. Outstanding. 94 Points.
NV Scharffenberger Brut Rosé, Mendocino County, CA: Retail $29. 55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir. Light pink in the glass with some orange notes. Beautiful fruity nose of strawberry and cherry. The palate is fruity, tart, mineral, and complex. Very nice. Excellent. 92 Points.
2016 Left Coast Estate Pinot Meunier Estate Brut Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $55. Quite light in color with just a slight orange hue. A bit “flinty” on the nose with wild strawberry and perhaps black cherry. Tart on the palate, almost overly so, but there is enough fruit on the mid-palate and finish to combat all that acid. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Mumm Napa Brut Rosé, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $24. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. Light pink with strawberry and peach at the front of the nose. Quite nice on the palate with a lovely balance and just the right amount of dosage. Excellent. 91 Points.
2017 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé Blossom Ridge, Eola – Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $64. 100% Pinot Noir. Quite light in color with just a hint of orange. The nose is mostly peach with a touch of lemon. The palate is quite dry and the fruit is rather sour, leading to a lengthy finish. Very Good. 89 Points.
The Group’s Top Wines*
- 2016 Domaine Carneros Late Disgorged
- 2017 Flaunt Wine Company
- 2016 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvée
- NV Scharffenberger Brut Excellence
- 2020 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling
- NV Roederer Estate Brut
- Laetitia Winery Brut Rosé
- Mumm Napa Brut Rosé
*appeared on at least three of the lists of top wines
My Top Wines
- 2017 Flaunt Wine Company ($48, 96 pts.)
- 2011 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvée ($88, 95 pts.)
- NV Scharffenberger Brut Excellence ($23, 95 pts.)
- NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé ($36, 95 pts.)
- 2012 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvée ($88, 94 pts.)
- NV Domaine Carneros Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour ($42, 94 pts.)
- 2019 Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé ($55, 94 pts.)
- 2016 Brooks Sparkling Riesling ($55, 93 pts.)
2017 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Brut Rosé ($50, 93 pts.)
- 2018 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Brut Rosé ($60, 93 pts.)
- NV Scharffenberger Brut Excellence ($23, 95 pts.)
- NV Roederer Estate Brut ($28, 93 pts.)
- NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Rosé ($25, 93 pts.)
2020 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling ($20, 93 pts.)
NV Pine Ridge Vineyards Chenin Blanc ($18, 93 pts.)
- NV Scharffenberger Brut Rosé ($28, 92 pts.)
NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs ($25, 92 pts.)
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé ($25, 92 pts.)
NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($24, 92 pts.)
- NV Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($24, 91 Pts.)
NV Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma County ($20, 91 pts.)
NV Korbel Blanc de Noirs ($13, 91 pts.)