Rotari Talento Brut Reserva 2005

(at his first sip of champagne) “Come quickly! I am tasting stars!” …………… Dom Perignon

In a blind tasting of sparkling wines years ago, a 1999 Dom Perignon Cuvee ranked 17 of 27 bottles tasted overall. Dom Perignon is made by Moet & Chandon (France), and is true Champagne. Back when these bottles were blind tasted, it cost $150 per bottle.  Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut, a non vintage sparkling wine made in Columbia Valley, Washington, came in at #1 of 22 sparkling wines tasted (that were under $15). Ste. Michelle beat out all the sparkling wines costing less than $15, and beat out “Dom” (as Frank Sinatra called it) that cost $150 per bottle.

I was not at that tasting, and have not tasted these wines side by side. But I have tasted a lot of sparkling wine, Champagne, Cava,  Prosecco and the like.  Recently, while pouring on behalf of Rotari, I was very impressed by their entire line and its affordability.  But I was especially impressed by Rotari  Talento Riserva 2005. First, this sparkling wine is 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, classic grapes for sparkling wine. The Chardonnay grapes are hand selected from the vines in Trento, Italy, a DOC area.  Third, fermentation occurs in small oak barrels.  Fourth, this wine is made in the classic French method: secondary fermentation, bottle fermented (Fr: Méthode Champenoise.  It: Metodo Classico). Fifth, the juice is allowed to rest on its lees (spent yeast cells) for another forty-eight months!. Instead of racking the juice off the yeast cells, the wine (by resting on its lees) develops richness and more complexity. Finally, the wine is then riddled, and the yeast disgorged.

 So, sixth is a question. How does Rotari continue to do all this today (and the transportation, retail mark up and other expenses) at $15 a bottle?  I’m glad I’m not responsible for figuring those things out, and can just enjoy drinking this wonderful sparkling wine.  Rotari Talento Riserva 2005 is a thirst quencher, thanks to its well balanced acid and fruit. As a “Brut”, this wine is dry, but ever so satisfying.  If you are not used to “Brut” sparkling wine, give it a try. It is not a prosecco, and most certainly not an asti .  Nor is it cloyingly sweet.  This is Chardonnay with a sparkle. In the glass, it has the color of light straw. The nose offers toasted hazelnut and candied fruit with a yeasty aroma that is pleasing (think fresh baked bread). The taste is ever so slightly woody and with a hint of almond, orange peel and buttered toast.   

Serve this Reserva at 42-44 degrees (F) with chilled oysters, shrimp, grilled scallops, strawberries, pear and hard cheeses, or stuffed mushrooms.  Brut sparkling wine goes well with creamy (non-tomato) risottos and vegetables or potato chips (really). Enjoy a bottle on your birthday, to celebrate a new job, or because it’s Friday, or spring is here. And if you would like to participate in a blind tasting of Dom Perignon vs. Rotari Talento Reserva (and are willing to provide the Dom Perignon), I will provide the Rotari. 

……………… Jim
* Visit for mini-tips on wine & food

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