France harbors a vast multitude of talented growers, fascinating appellations, and deep veins of viticultural history. Even among this embarrassment of riches, however, the Rougier family’s Chateau Simone is a true jewel—an estate with a singular terroir, owned by the same family for many generations, with no break in tradition along the way.
For the vigneron, aging can be a beautiful thing. Youth frequently seeks to announce its place in the world with maximum volume; age, more comfortable in its accumulated prowess, understands that a softer voice can be just as powerful.
Some folks are so amazingly productive, you’d swear they had figured out a way to clone themselves—or at least bargained to add a few hours to each of their days that the rest of us can’t access. Our old friend, the indefatigable Yves Cuilleron, is one such person. When Neal began working with the Cuilleron domaine in the early 1980s—with Yves’s uncle Antoine—there were three wines in play: a Saint-Joseph Rouge, a Saint-Joseph Blanc, and a Condrieu.
When we hunker down with Michel Gahier in his modest cellar just off the main square of Montigny-les-Arsures (known locally as the “Capital of Trousseau”), we never quite know what he’ll unearth from his library. During our last visit, he blind-tasted us on an enchanting 1990 Chardonnay “La Fauquette”—made with no added sulfur, and as fresh as the day it was born.
Certain viticultural areas possess a serene, understated sort of visual beauty: the subtle undulations of the Côte d’Or, for instance; or the Médoc’s stately expanse of gravel. Much of the action happens below the earth’s surface, of course, and the accompanying topographies are more soothing than arresting to behold. However, there are other vineyards where […]
“Orange wine” is a bona fide category now, one whose amber-colored tentacles have crept further and further into the mainstream over the past several years. Still, amidst an ocean of skin-contact white wines from every corner of the globe, those of Josko Gravner stand apart. His resurrection of this ancient practice two decades ago was certainly not an inevitability, especially considering technology’s ever-increasing role in the winemaking process, and it took someone of Gravner’s vision and tenacity to forge such a path for himself.
Mountainous, Magical, Microscopic
We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have always relished working with small producers. Over the years, we have grown our portfolio not through assimilating big brands, but by continuing to forge alliances with people who work their land on an intimate, human scale.
Peter Hahn is making some of the most dynamic, complex, and satisfying Vouvray in the entire appellation today. An American by birth, Peter acquired the four-hectare Clos de la Meslerie in the commune of Vernou-sur-Brenne in 2002, and rehabilitated it through fastidious organic viticultural work the estate’s old vines of Chenin Blanc, producing his first […]
We have lived with Paolo Vodopivec’s wines in our portfolio for over a year now. Each bottle opened, each glass consumed, solidifies something we sensed in our very first encounters: there is nothing on earth quite like these. It’s not just that the wines are outstanding—which, indisputably, they are—but they seem to operate on an […]
Chardonnay grows everywhere, but Chablis is Chablis, and there is nothing else on earth remotely like it. Its extreme northern latitude; its distinctive soils, rife with the fossilized shells of an ancient sea whose bed transformed into Chablis’ best vineyards; Chablis at its best is a triumph of terroir over grape variety. Regrettably, much Chablis […]
For lovers of true, old-style Rhône wines, Domaine Bois de Boursan in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a rare gift. This storied appellation has seen its fair share of concessions to modern winemaking in recent decades. In a quest for richer fruit, silkier tannins, and bigger scores, many growers lost the soul of the place, and drinkers who […]
It has been deeply satisfying to witness the surge of interest in the Alto Piemonte in recent years. This beautiful, geologically diverse swath of vineyards in the Alpine foothills northeast of Piedmont suffered particularly heavy losses through the ravages of phylloxera and the growth of the local textile industry (which pulled people away from backbreaking […]
The Soul of the Montagne de Reims Laid Bare We have always been delighted with the depth and quality of the Champagne we buy from the Coulon family in the Montagne de Reims, but they have reached stunning new heights in the past several years. In terms of their rigorous vineyard management and cellar practices, […]
A New Summit Gevrey-Chambertin accounts for the largest surface area under vine in the entire Cote de Nuits, and it can be challenging to get a handle on its broad range of terroirs. How fortunate we at Rosenthal Wine Merchant are, then, to work with Harmand-Geoffroy—a long-established domaine whose enviable holdings lie entirely within the […]
As broad and rich as Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s coverage of viticultural France is, there is one classic appellation whose absence in the portfolio we lamented for well over a decade: Chinon. Nestled along the Loire River’s left bank (to the south of the river itself) as it flows westward through the region of Touraine, Chinon […]
A VITICULTURAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Piedmont, revered for the grandiose wines produced from the Nebbiolo grape, is home as well to an exceptional white variety, ERBALUCE, that is little known and barely appreciated. The Erbaluce finds its home high up in the Canavese district, the lake country in the Alpine foothills north of Torino that […]
A new round of releases from the legendary Montevertine estate, high in the hills above Radda-in-Chianti, is always a cause for celebration. Montevertine as we know it today began in 1967, when Milanese steel magnate Sergio Manetti acquired the property as a summer home. Within a few years, and with the help of a beloved […]
For those enraptured by terroir, perhaps no region in France holds a greater capacity for wonderment than Alsace. Not even Burgundy, with its immensely intricate patchwork of subtly varying Jurassic limestone, can approach Alsace’s geological complexity. We consumers often think of Alsace first and foremost in terms of grape variety; after all, nearly all of […]
The 2016 vintage at the Domaine Fourrier presents in a classic manner with precision and grace. However, it is another in the recent spate of scarce harvests that makes this offer a challenge to place in front of those who have patronized the wines of this estate since the first vintage (1994) we imported so […]
We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have been working with the Rollin family in Pernand-Vergelesses since 1982. Over the years, first with Maurice and his son Remi, and today with Remi and his son Simon, this rock-solid domaine has provided us with wines of finesse, character, and startling purity—and at prices that put to rest the […]
For us at Rosenthal Wine Merchant, Ferrando Carema is more than a wine; it’s an emblem—a one-wine encapsulation of our history, our aesthetic sensibilities, and our most deeply held values. Back in 1980, when Neal and Kerry were still lugging boxes around their Upper East Side shop themselves, it was the very first wine they […]
Great vintages are a tango. Nature leads the grower, and the dance is certainly strenuous, but she seems ultimately to want to create something beautiful. Some growing seasons, however, are 15-round boxing matches, with Nature doing her damndest to leave her much smaller opponent utterly crushed. And in 2014 in the Langhe, Mother Nature was […]
For a former rugby player, Jerome Chezeaux produces some surprisingly sleek and elegant wines. Following up on a reference from Regis Forey, we began working with Domaine Chezeaux in the mid-1990s, having been immediately smitten by Jerome’s egoless, extraordinarily precise renderings of some of the finest sites in the southern sector of the Côte de […]
Enjoying the raw beauty of Liguria is a breeze, but making wine here is no mean feat. As with Cassis (spotlighted in last month’s piece on Domaine du Bagnol), Liguria produces scant quantities of wine that are dispensed of in large part by tourists who flock here to partake in the psychedelic gorgeousness of its […]
Danilo Thomain talks like a tornado—the conversational embodiment of the boundless energy it takes to tend vines in such a steep, difficult terrain as the Enfer d’Arvier. The second-highest zone of the Valle d’Aosta in northwest Italy (only Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle—home of our renowned Ermes Pavese—lies above it), the Enfer d’Arvier […]
The release of a new vintage from Ghislaine Barthod is always an eagerly anticipated and joyous occasion. There is perhaps no grower with a wider range of great vineyard holdings in Chambolle-Musigny, and Barthod’s lofty status in the current pantheon of top Burgundy estates is firmly established and beyond well-deserved. As the old adage goes, […]
The 2017 vintage in France proved to be one of the most low-yielding on record. Problems with a widespread spring frost, abundant hail, and extremely dry conditions during the summer worked mutually to make 2017 the worst harvest since 1945. Amazingly, the one area that managed to avoid these widespread afflictions was the coveted land […]
The combination of 2015 white wines and 2014 red wines produced by Domaine Prudhon comprises a rock-solid source of Burgundy of incredible-value.. While the natural richness of a solar vintage like 2015 had the potential to yield unwieldy, unbalanced white Burgundies for those growers who favor a more heavy-handed approach, Prudhon’s chiseled, acid-driven style counterbalanced […]
We look with great anticipation toward the end of April, when we will receive the 2015s (plus three 2016 regional-level wines) from the domaine of Hubert and Laurent Lignier—the source of perhaps our greatest and most awe-inspiring red Burgundy since the 1978 vintage. Last year, there was much to celebrate with the arrival of Lignier’s […]
We began our partnership with the inimitable Chateau Le Puy only about a year and a half ago, but our aesthetic and philosophical alignment makes it feel like it has been decades. And, given the voraciousness and enthusiasm with which our clientele has embraced the estate’s wines, the market was more than ready for Bordeaux […]
A New Face of Dolcetto Dolcetto is regularly treated as a second-class citizen in the high-dollar, high-prestige district of Barolo, with growers relegating it to unfavorably exposed parts of their holdings and producing it in a quick, straightforward fashion. Barolo is Nebbiolo country, plain and simple, and while one can hardly fault its producers for […]
One must search ever harder in the great viticultural regions of France these days to find examples of long and unbroken tradition. Market pressures and the conveniences of technology have lured so many growers, even in hallowed areas, to sculpt their wines more obsessively, to shorten their aging regimens, and to soften them up for […]
With its dazzling geological diversity, its ideal latitudinal situation, and its long, proud winegrowing history, France is an embarrassment of vinous riches. It is no accident that it was the French themselves who coined the term terroir—the magical union of soil, climate, grape variety, and knowing human touch which produces that elusive but undeniable sense […]
For the vigneron, even great vintages carry with them potential pitfalls. The 2015 growing season in Burgundy was a relative breeze, with even ripening, ample sunshine, little disease pressure, and stellar conditions at harvest time. As with other “solar” vintages like 2005 and 2009, the temptation to really lean into such healthy, beautiful fruit in […]
Amidst the lush, verdant, rolling hills of the Jura, surrounded by plentiful cattle, occasional vineyards, and little else, one can still profoundly feel the ancient agrarian heartbeat of old France. Here, unlike almost anywhere else in the Old World, persists a robust winemaking tradition of careful, intuitive vineyard management, confidently unobtrusive cellar work, and a […]
Around January 8th, we will receive a monumental set of wines from the tireless Yves Cuilleron, encompassing his red wines from the majestic 2015 vintage and his appellation white wines from 2016. These represent the 30th vintage we have been working with Yves, and we have witnessed with amazement his development and expansion since his […]
Power, Precision, and Purity Nuits-Saint-Georges is rarely the first village mentioned when Burgundy enthusiasts begin to wax rhapsodic about their favorite appellations. With their assertive, articulate nature, their ability to deliver visceral mineral intensity, and their sometimes tough and savory flavors, they possess neither the seductive lusciousness of Chambolle-Musigny nor the warm earthiness of Gevrey-Chambertin—and […]
Each summer, as we approach Labor Day and make final preparations for the autumn shipments, one early-October arrival is always circled as perhaps the highlight of the season from our Italian growers: the single annual release of the majestic cru Barolos from Brovia. The 2013 vintage hardly needs an introduction, as it has already been […]
2013 “Emilien” and the debut of Duc des Nauves The very existence of Chateau Le Puy almost defies belief. In, of all places, Bordeaux—a region that fell especially hard for the oak-and-muscles approach favored by certain critics and point-chasers over the past few decades—there exists a sizable and historic estate that has never made even […]
Over the ages, through marriages, births, deaths, retirements, leases, and purchases, stewardship of the finely-rendered grid of hallowed terroir that is the Côte d’Or shifts constantly. It is the roving lens by which we have come to know these vineyards over many hundreds of years–the ever-moving human counterpoint to the relative permanency and fixedness of […]
Neal I’ve been on a skin-contact kick lately. I think that beginning our relationship with Gravner and diving into those wines in a serious way triggered a perspective shift in my brain. While I had always enjoyed “orange wines” and found them interesting, I was never able to “see into” them the way I felt […]
I had quite a few wines open in Philadelphia this past week as part of a portfolio tasting we did with our distributor there. I’ll send more detailed notes on some of the other wines under separate cover, but I wanted to take a minute to spotlight a wine that was an absolute show-stopper: the […]
I had a tremendous lineup of 2012 Burgundies out today. This was prompted by me sending an email blast showing the 2012’s we still have in stock (and praising the vintage in general), and having several clients express curiosity. I presented the lineup to two clients, then hosted a lunch for a few others at […]
Working in Maspeth, Queens may not be as glamorous as commuting to Midtown, Manhattan but it does have one major perk: my daily walk through the RWM warehouse. Housing thousands of bottles of wine, some decades old, every row of boxes holds something to discover. I like to poke around, turning up treasures like old […]