Review: Sparkling Roses from Brendel, Robert Mondavi, and Rotari (2023 Releases)

Review: Sparkling Roses from Brendel, Robert Mondavi, and Rotari (2023 Releases)

Sparkling rosés are perfect for warm weather enjoyment, but the bottles we’re tasting today are not light summer sippers. They are fine examples of the depth and complexity that can be drawn out of sparkling rosé when it is well crafted and made with well-sourced grapes. Poured cold, they’ll certainly be a welcome addition to any pool party, but they also reward serious attention throughout the year. Two today come from Napa Valley, though they are made with different grapes, and the third draws from the Trentino region in northern Italy. Let’s pop some corks and see what makes each distinctive.

2020 Brendel “Young Leon” Frizzante Rosé –100% Grignolino from St. Helena in Napa Valley, California. The wine pours pale pink/orange in color and has a light nose of strawberries along with Pez candy and cotton candy. Taking a sip, the palate follows suit but is bolder, showing strawberries, rhubarb, SweetTarts, and more Pez. This makes the wine sound very sweet, but it is actually fairly dry. There are ample bubbles here, but they aren’t as small as I would like. Midpalate, some minerality appears, and the wine has a bit of a chalky mouthfeel, which makes me think yet again of Pez. The wine has high acidity, but a fairly short finish. Altogether, this sparkling wine is unusual but doesn’t hold together well. B- / $38 /

2021 Robert Mondavi Sparkling Rosé – Made predominantly from Moscato di Canelli grapes from the Wappo Hill Vineyard in Stags’ Leap, Napa, California, along with some Malbec and Pinot Noir. Pouring this sparkling wine, big, sweet strawberry notes burst from the glass. Going deeper, there is watermelon, light salinity, and a gentle mineral note to the nose as well. Taking a sip, the strawberry note again comes first along with some watermelon and sweetness for an almost Jolly Ranchers candy flavor. I didn’t find it cloying, but it isn’t for fans of dry wine. On the palate, there is medium acidity, and the bubbles are small and plentiful and provide an enjoyable mouthfeel. The finish is fairly long as the sweet strawberry and watermelon notes slowly fade. The wine isn’t very complex, but it is enjoyable and would be perfect served very cold on a hot summer day. B+ / $35 /

2016 Rotari Blossom Label Brut Rosé Trentodoc – 75% Pinot Nero and 25% Chardonnay, then rested on the lees for 24 months. Pale salmon in color, this sparkling wine shows generous tiny bubbles and has a complex nose of yeasty dough, strawberries, and pink grapefruit. The palate follows suit beautifully, but here the fruit comes first: strawberries and cream, raspberries, and pink grapefruit give it an inviting brightness. There’s depth here as well as a doughy note which follows along with some minerality, and the long finish introduces a light, savory character. A constant stream of small bubbles and high acidity lend the wine good structure and a silky mouthfeel. This Trentodoc might be a bit complex for poolside sipping, but the quality and the price make this one to buy by the case. A / $24 /

2016 Rotari Blossom Label Brut Rosé Trentodoc




Robert Lublin teaches whisk(e)y and wine appreciation classes for Arlington Community Education, near Boston, MA. He is also a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and has published books and articles on Shakespeare as well as theatre and film history.

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