You know the wine, now get to know the brandy. The massest of mass market wine brands, Stella Rosa, parachuted into the brandy business late last year, offering a trio of brandies at launch — all flavored and imported from Italy. We received one of the three: Tropical Passion, which is further described on the label, completely seriously, as “tropical passion flavored brandy.”
How much tropical passion flavor can you handle? Well, stick with us and you’ll find out.
The nose is indistinct but closer to apricots and peaches than the mango and pineapple I was expecting, which is strange because Stella also makes a peach-flavored expression. The aromas of toasty earthiness and fresh linens one expects to find in a young brandy are on display, but only barely: The more savory qualities of the spirit manage to stay mostly out of focus. The aforementioned peach quality is immediately evoked on the palate, but this does manage to fade ever so slightly toward a more tropical mango note as it develops. Again there’s the bite of an earthy backbone and a slightly green quality — surely unavoidable in a spirit like this — but again to my surprise it is never unpleasant. Equally surprising is that, while the finished product is simple, sweet, and filled with fruit candy notes, it’s never cloying or overbearing.
There’s a vague implication that there’s brandy actually in this bottle, but I wouldn’t dream of attempting to classify it as such, except on a technical basis. My best advice would be to use this in lieu of a peach liqueur in a cocktail — though the price tag is awfully high for such an endeavor.