Carema is northern Piedmont’s “heroic” wine By Robert Camuto Jul 6, 2021 I’ll go anywhere Nebbiolo grows in northern Italy, such is the spell this elite Piedmont native casts. But until this spring, I’d never been to Carema, a tiny village and wine appellation in northwestern Piedmont, about 90 miles north of Nebbiolo’s most famous
Long ago, sweetness in any form was far rarer than today, and it was prized thusly. In our era of ubiquitous corn syrup, junk food, and soda, it is difficult to imagine a world in which sugar was special, and the overall difficulty in selling sweet wines across all markets testifies to that. Still, sweetness in wine—real wine whose sweetness has not been coerced—remains one of nature’s rare gifts. Producing sweet wines requires a grower to be courageous, as she must wait to harvest and risk late-season vagaries of weather, or, in passito-style wines, assume the risk of air-drying fruit for upwards of half a year in her cellar. Sweet wine production requires prodigious effort for feeble yields, which generally then take longer to produce and longer to sell than their dry counterparts.
In August 1977, Neal Rosenthal quit his “stagnating career as a lawyer specializing in the arcane rules and regulations of corporate and international tax law, and, in a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of financial stability, . . . purchased the remnants of my parents’ retail business, a neighborhood liquor store” in “a tiny cube on the corner of Seventy-second Street and Lexington Avenue” in “the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a tony residential quarter.” The store’s selection of wines and Rosenthal’s knowledge of wine were limited, but he set about improving both, with impressive results: He and his wife, Kerry Madigan, are now co-owners of Rosenthal Wine Merchant, a “little importing company” that is “little” only in the sense that it serves a limited clientele, one that appears to be knowledgeable, choosy and rich.
Even a global pandemic can’t dampen interest in the pink wine juggernaut. According to VinePair’s internal data, rosé is off to an earlier than usual start to its strongest seasonal period, with a 19 percent increase in reader interest this March compared to 2019.
That interest comes off the back of four years of solid growth. According to Nielsen data, off-premise sales of pink wine increased almost 300 percent between January 2016 and January 2020, starting the decade with a value of over $576 million. It’s a remarkable success story, and one that looks set to continue based on the increasing diversity and elevated quality of wines VinePair recently tasted for our annual rosé ranking.
This year’s list encompasses bottles from mainstay regions like Provence and southern Italy, with fresh additions from throughout the Mediterranean, including Spain and Greece. There’s also a strong selection of domestic offerings, many of which can be purchased and shipped right from the wineries. Winery-direct sales are particularly resonant right now, as much of the country is sheltering in place; it’s a sales channel we expect to see grow in importance moving forward in the new normal.
The number of bottles tasted for this year’s list surpassed 100 labels. With a staff panel of tasters, we hotly debated our selections and rankings based on drinkability, mass appeal, quality, and value for money, with prices taken from wine-searcher.com or the winery itself, in the case of direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings.
On the topic of price, the top 25 bottles of 2020 offer further proof of the value offered by the rosé category: More than half of the bottles on this year’s list deliver change from a crisp $20 bill. At least 10 come in at $15 or less.
Château Peyrassol is one of the top 25 rosés of 2020. A delightful reminder of what makes Provence rosé so popular, this wine ticks all the boxes. The nose is delicate but serves layers of white flowers, red fruit, and a sprinkle of savory spices. The palate is both bold and refreshing, with tangy fruit cut by a piercing jolt of acidity. Add a hint of wet rocks and a dusting of white pepper to the equation, and you’ve got yourself the best rosé of 2019. If you can’t find this exact bottle, the producer’s entire range is equally impressive and should be sought out. Average price: $35.
Precision, Finesse, and Approachability
The wines of Domaine Hubert Lignier in Morey-Saint-Denis have stood at the apex of our Burgundy portfolio for four decades now. Our partnership began in 1981, when Neal purchased a small amount of 1978s from the preternaturally talented Hubert, who was then selling off much of his wine to…
Domaine Levet in Côte-Rôtie has been a cornerstone of our portfolio since the 1983 vintage—the first they ever produced. Bernard and Nicole Levet began their domaine with three and a half hectares of enviable holdings around Ampuis, passed down through Nicole’s father Marius Chambeyron, a legendarily brazen vigneron who planted a coarsely hand-painted “CHAMBEYRON” sign high on his parcel of Côte-Brune to compete with those of his more famous and moneyed négociant neighbors. (It remains there to this day.) Today, their daughter Agnès is at the helm, though Bernard is still intimately involved, and they work their vertiginous, unforgiving terrain with bred-in-bone skill. Labor in this appellation is necessarily manual and unavoidably treacherous, with many terraces so narrow as to accommodate but a single row of vines, which plunge for scarce water through miserly topsoil and meters of pure schist. The wines today are produced in the same doggedly old-school manner as they have always been: minimal de-stemming, natural fermentations, long macerations, élévage in old foudres and tonneaux, and no filtration. Perhaps in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, such unpolished wines were out of step with the times, not offering a gentle enough entryway into Côte-Rôtie’s innate wildness. Today, however, when even many a well-meaning risk-embracing wine displays a certain eagerness to please, Levet Côte-Rôtie stands as a beacon of elemental authenticity.
Agnès Levet describes the 2017 vintage as “classic”—less intense in character than 2018, with more obvious minerality and less overall heft. She and her team began harvesting on September 6th, a full three weeks ahead of 2016, and she reported normal yields: in the vicinity of 40 hectoliters per hectare. The below 2017s were bottled in September of 2019, just prior to harvest.
Comprised of vines from throughout the family’s holdings, Levet’s basic Côte-Rôtie is de-stemmed 50%, and spends two years in 600-liter barrels, less than 10% of which are new. The primary vineyard sources are Les Craies and Mollard in the Côte Blonde, with younger vines from Moulin and Fontgent in the Côte Brune. This 2017 is rich but balanced, with spice-inflected tannins and an impression of slowly unfolding layers—alternatingly elegant and authoritative.
2017 Côte-Rôtie “Les Journaries”
The Levets own a third of a hectare of forty-year-old vines in the fabled vineyard La Landonne, and this cuvée is built around that holding, augmented by small parcels of old vines in other crus. No de-stemming is done here, which allows for that intoxicating spice signature to reach even greater heights. Compared to the ferocious “La Chavaroche” below, “Les Journaries” shows greater refinement and elegance, though in no sense is it tame. The 2017 is explosively aromatic, with a high-toned but enveloping sense of Indian spices that is something of a Levet signature. It enters silkily and finishes with notable grip, its black, brooding fruits completely saturating the palate.
2017 Côte-Rôtie “La Chavaroche”
The crown jewel of the Levet family’s holdings is a 1.2-hectare parcel of old vines at the very summit of the great La Chavaroche vineyard, and the wine they summon from this dizzying slope is among the most iconic in our entire portfolio. Always arrestingly wild, “La Chavaroche” possesses an unmistakable musk: a warm-animal profile that feels somehow ancient and unknowable, a sort of profound riddle of terroir. In typical fashion, this 2017 is more punchily mineral than “Les Journaries,” although it is no more obviously structured; in fact, its tannins are remarkably well-distributed across the palate, and the wine shows surprising poise for such a heat-marked vintage.
Xavier Gérard is an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in the Northern Rhône. Having assumed control of his family’s impressive holdings in Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu with the 2013 vintage, Xavier has been steadily honing his craft over the ensuing years; today, his svelte, pure, classicist renderings of Côte-Rôtie’s unique terroir rival anything produced in the appellation. Furthermore, his nimble, acid-prizing touch with Viognier yields Condrieu of appealing restraint and foregrounded minerality. Xavier is steering his viticulture toward the fully organic—a particularly arduous feat on these brutally steep terraced slopes—aiming for certification over the next several years, and he has refined his touch in the cellar to allow for sensitive rather than systematic whole-cluster usage, natural fermentations, and minimal handling of the wines during their élévage. His emphasis on elegance and precision provides a wonderful counterpoint to the beloved Côte-Rôtie of the Levet family (who introduced us to Xavier ten years ago), while offering an equally profound glimpse into these slopes’ prized schist. The just-arrived 2017 Côte-Rôtie is perhaps Xavier’s highest achievement to date—an elegant, poised wine of tremendous drive and tight-knit concentration, and one with remarkable future promise as well.
2017 Xavier Gérard Côte-Rôtie
The Gérard family owns 3.2 hectares worth of old vines in Côte-Rôtie, spread among four notable vineyards: Mollard (comprising two-thirds of their holdings), Viallière (planted in 1922), La Brosse, and the fabled La Ladonne. Tailoring his de-stemming regimen to each harvest’s particular character yet never wanting the stems to dominate the wine, Xavier included around one-third whole clusters in the 2017 vintage, and the wine spent two years in well-used 600-liter demi-muids after a natural fermentation in concrete. This type of traditional, unfussy élévage is a tried-and-true method of harnessing maximum expression from the Syrah of Côte-Rôtie, yet it too often gets tinkered with; thankfully, Xavier sees no benefit to such attempts at sculpture, and his 2017 is as precise and pure as they come. Furthermore, his prices have remained remarkably reasonable in the context of the appellation, and while to call a wine in this echelon “inexpensive” is a stretch, it is undeniably a phenomenal value.
Guillaume Gilles, now in his late-30s (but looking ten years younger), is a force to be reckoned with, and his wines have deservedly garnered progressively more acclaim with each vintage since his debut in 2007. A local, Guillaume learned the ropes through stages with Jean-Louis Chave and Robert Michel between 2000 and 2004, and in fact he makes his wines in Michel’s old underground cellar in the heart of the village. Furthermore, his flagship Cornas is produced primarily from vineyards in Chaillot which were the source of Michel’s “Cuvée des Coteaux” back when he was active. A brilliant farmer, Guillaume eschews chemicals in the vineyards, working his three hectares completely by hand. He vinifies in concrete, uses only naturally occurring yeasts, and—critically—employs only whole clusters with no bunch-destemming, a vital contributing factor to his wines’ intoxicating aromatics and a resounding statement of his old-school values. He ages his wines in 600-liter demi-muids of considerable age, racking minimally and employing never more than 60 milligrams of total sulfur, and bottling without fining or filtration. Guillaume’s Cornas is unfailingly expressive, deep, powerful, and spicy, humming with terroir and easily rivaling the greatest creations of the appellation’s old masters.
Guillaume reported a hot, extremely dry 2017 growing season. Between a touch of frost in late April and intense hydric-stress pressure during the scorching summer, his yields were down 30% below average, with younger vines suffering more acutely. Despite these challenges—rapidly becoming the “new normal” in this era of climate change—the 2017s here are hugely impressive, carrying their ample flesh with agility and never sacrificing the energy which always marks Guillaume’s wines.
NOTE: With this release, we introduce two new cuvées, both from the 2018 vintage: a luscious Marsanne-Roussanne blend from his beloved Les Peyrouses vineyard, and a riveting old-vines Gamay planted high on the Ardeche plain to the west of Cornas. Both are available in painfully small quantities.
2018 “Les Peyrouses” Blanc (Vin de France)
From the vineyard of Les Peyrouses, a site just east of Cornas in which Gilles also owns 150-year-old Syrah (see below), this new cuvée comprises two-thirds Marsanne and one-third Roussanne, from a third of a hectare’s worth of vines planted between 2009 and 2013. Its soils of sand, clay, and large galets render a white wine of formidable amplitude but excellent focus, given shape by a touch of appealing bitterness on the finish. This 2018 underwent alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in well-used 500-liter barrels, and was bottled without fining of filtration.
2018 “Combeaux Massardières” Gamay de la Vallée du Doux (Vin de France)
A few years ago, Guillaume acquired a 0.3-hectare plot of 40-year-old Gamay planted in pure granite at 600 meters altitude in the Ardeche, and he produces a mere 800 bottles per vintage on average. As with his Cornas, he refrains from de-stemming his Gamay, but he allows fermentation to proceed semi-carbonically. Any kinship with its Beaujolais brethren, however, is purely varietal, as this 2018 is powerfully structured and inky-fruited, with wild aromas of sandalwood and potpourri, and mouthwatering concentration.
2017 Cornas “R”
The “R” in this wine’s name stands for Les Rieux, a vineyard situated up above the main amphitheater of Cornas at a lofty 400-450 meters altitude. Guillaume acquired acreage here in 2010, immediately planting vines on its soils of white granite which had never before borne wine. Whereas before the turn of the century there was really nothing planted above 300 meters in Cornas, today’s warmer climate allows for wines from plots like this one to reach full maturity at modest alcohol. Robert Michel, upon tasting “R” (formerly known as “Nouvelle R” but changed due to a copyright issue) for the first time, remarked that it reminded him of the Cornas he and his village-mates made in the ‘70s and ’80s; certainly, the bright, spice-saturated red character of the fruit here provides a fascinating contrast to Gilles’ more brooding flagship Cornas. Clocking in at just 13% alcohol, this 2017 “R” sizzles across the palate with uncanny focus, presenting a lithe take on Cornas that nonetheless displays classic black-olive and smoke character, as well as ample concentration.
Guillaume’s flagship Cornas comprises three separate parcels, all within the renowned vineyard of Chaillot, planted between the early-1950s and the mid-1970s: lower-lying Combe de Chaillot, with its sandier soils, offers more straightforward fruit; steep Les Terrasses, high up on the slope and poor of topsoil, contributes granitic punch and intense spiciness; and the also-terraced Grandes Mures, with its sun-soaking southward exposition, provides sumptuously dark-fruited contrabass notes and enhances the final blend’s overall structure. Guillaume vinifies and ages each parcel separately, blending them after an eighteen-month élévage in a blend of 400-liter and 600-liter oak casks of between five and fifteen years of age. This 2017 is a dense, brooding old-school powerhouse of a Cornas, with rugged structure and bottomless depth; it beckons to be cellared a bit but should unfurl slowly and majestically.
2017 “Les Peyrouses” Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge
Hailing from the flats just to the east of the Cornas appellation, the “Les Peyrouses” Rouge is a remarkable and unique wine: pure Syrah planted in the 1870s, during phylloxera’s initial outbreak, and constituting the very first grafted vines in the area. The soil in this vineyard is a mix of sand and clay, with loads of large limestone galets, and the wine Guillaume coaxes from these astonishingly old vines is so powerful in its fruit that he gives it twelve months élévage instead of eighteen. (Also, as a testament to its sheer power, he always presents it after his Cornas during visits to his cellar.) The 2017 vintage is remarkably spicy, with typically powerful tannins but a slightly more subdued sense of wildness than other vintages have shown, bringing it closer to his Cornas stylistically.
The Lionnet family has been farming in Cornas since 1575, and the four-hectare domaine today comprises an impressive array of very old vines in some of the area’s greatest sites. In 2003, Corinne Lionnet and her husband Ludovic Izerable—originally from Grenoble—assumed control of the family holdings, and we have witnessed with great delight a steady and remarkable improvement over the ensuing vintages. They obtained organic certification with the 2012 vintage, and, like Guillaume Gilles, they have recently acquired new holdings in Cornas’ higher-altitude reaches, pointing a way forward both for the domaine and the appellation itself. Ludovic and Corinne are great friends with Guillaume, and the constant dialogue among them about their craft benefits everyone involved. Although Lionnet’s practices are quite close to that of Gilles—natural fermentations, no de-stemming, neutral 600-liter barrels for ageing—the wines are more chiseled, leaner and slightly sterner in their youth, yet equally classic in personality and revelatory with proper bottle age.
Ludovic and Corinne suffered even more than Guillaume in the punishingly dry 2017 growing season, reporting a 40% reduction in crop size. Given the extremes of the vintage, however, their 2017s are startling in their elegance, with chiseled fruit, lifted aromatics, and hyper-focused minerality. There is arguably no domaine in Cornas performing above the level of Lionnet, and we highly encourage you to get on board before the wines become significantly more difficult to access.
2018 Saint-Joseph Rouge “Terre Neuve”
Ten years ago, Ludovic and Corinne acquired a 0.4-hectare parcel in Châteaubourg, the southernmost village in the Saint-Joseph appellation (and thus the nearest to Cornas). They planted Syrah in its soils of clay and large-stoned limestone, and in 2018 they wrested a mere three 500-liter barrels from these relatively young vines. Bottled after one year of élévage, the 2018 “Terre Neuve” offers explosive aromas of licorice, fresh-ground pepper, and violet-tinged black fruits, and its scrumptious and juicy palate provides a wonderful in-house contrast to the domaine’s more formidably structured Cornas cuvées. Of note, most Saint-Joseph is from granitic soils; this site’s limestone lends the wine a less thunderous, more restrained mineral character that allows the remarkably pure fruit to shine clearly.
2017 Cornas “Pur Granit”
2017 is only the second vintage of Ludovic and Corinne’s “Pur Granit”—from a southeast-facing one-hectare parcel of massale-selection Syrah, planted between 2008 and 2011, in the vineyard of Saint-Pierre at around 380 meters altitude. The combination of high altitude and pure-granite soil (hence the name) yields a taut, racy Cornas of remarkable mineral articulation; somewhat in the vein of Gilles’ “R,” it offers a slightly more easygoing counterpart to the “Terre Brûlée” below. This 2017 is stunning in its purity and depth, with intoxicating aromas of smoky leather and incense, and a blatantly stony palate of greater concentration and intensity than its 2016 counterpart.
2017 Cornas “Terre Brûlée”
Ludovic and Corinne farm very old vines (between 40 to 100 years of age) in several notable Cornas vineyards, which are all blended into their flagship cuvée “Terre Brulée”: Mazards, with 50-year-old vines in granite-inflected soils of clay-limestone, is dark and powerful; Chaillot contributes classic granitic heft and dusty spice; clay-limestone Pied de la Vigne, which flanks Chaillot’s eastern edge, provides structural rigor; and Combe, the southernmost lieu-dit in the appellation, comprises sandy granite soils which give rounder fruit and more overtly floral aromas. Aged entirely in used 600-liter demi-muids, the 2017 “Terre Brulée” is rivetingly aromatic, with notable tension between its dense drought-vintage fruit and its spice-route fireworks. A sense of forbidding concentration beckons patience, but this is potentially a legend in the making.
At Rosenthal Wine Merchant, the Alps have always been close to our heart. After all, the iconic Carema from Luigi Ferrando—situated at the grand entryway to the Valle d’Aosta—was the first wine Neal ever imported into the United States, back in early 1980.
Commanderie de Peyrassol
Our longstanding partnership with the Commanderie de Peyrassol provides us with our most plentiful source of classically rendered Provence rosés—wines which the market justifiably awaits eagerly as warmer weather draws nearer. The 2019 growing season saddled Peyrassol with high temperatures and dry conditions—factors increasingly becoming the “new normal” in a post-climate-change France—but a bit of well-timed gentle rainfall during harvest brought welcome balance to the fruit and neutralized the looming threat of heavy, hydric-stress-affected rosés. Varieties and parcels at Peyrassol are all vinified individually, which allows the estate great flexibility in the blending of their various cuvées. Indeed, one of the most remarkable things about the range of rosés at Peyrassol is how well-measured and notable the “steps up the ladder” are in the lineup. The wines do not get more boisterous or rich as one climbs; rather, they become more filigree, detailed, and fine—each progressive rung a further zoom-in on a sort of Platonic ideal of Provence rosé. This collection of 2019s sees Peyrassol firing on all cylinders in a vintage exceedingly favorable to their style of wine.
2019 “La Croix” IGP Méditerranée Rosé
Produced from roughly equal parts Grenache and Cinsault, plus a splash of Rolle (Vermentino), the 2019 “La Croix” blends 50% estate holdings with fruit sourced from the Côtes de Provence as well as further north toward Mont Sainte-Victoire. An exemplar of Peyrassol’s blending acumen, it offers the precision and elegance that characterizes all the estate’s rosés, albeit in a more direct, fruit-forward manner than its stablemates below.
2019 “Cuvée de la Commanderie” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Peyrassol’s perennial workhorse hits a bullseye in 2019. Comprising 30% each Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, with small amounts of Tibouren and Mourvèdre completing the blend, the beloved “Commanderie” offers the tension, salinity, and crystalline fruit that characterize this wine every year, with greater lift than the 2018 and a vinous core that does nothing to detract from the wine’s breezy deliciousness. This cuvée blends 70% estate-grown fruit with 30% purchased from several growers in nearby Flassans-sur-Isole with whom Peyrassol has multi-year contracts; Peyrassol’s team oversees the harvest and vinification of these sources.
2019 “Château Peyrassol” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Produced entirely from fruit grown on the estate, the 2019 “Château Peyrassol” is no weightier than the “Commanderie” above, differentiating itself instead through more marked salinity and greater palate persistence. It seamlessly interweaves taut, bright red fruit and vivacious acidity into a texture both cool and layered, and its overall personality is slightly lighter and more focused than that of the 2018. The 2019 is comprised of 65% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, and 5% each Tibouren and Mourvèdre.
2019 “Le Clos Peyrassol” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Taking the crystalline focus of the “Château” above even further, the 2019 “Le Clos” is stupendous in its textural elegance and purity of fruit. It combines roughly equal parts Tibouren, Grenache, and Cinsault from the most favorably situated section within Peyrassol’s holdings, and this 2019 sees the estate experimenting in the cellar to great effect: 20% of the wine was vinified and aged in 10-hectoliter terracotta jars, which contribute a texturally caressing quality to the final blend without sacrificing its sense of laser-like precision.
2019 Cassis Rosé
The dynamic Sébastien Genovesi describes 2019 as a beautiful harvest, one for which a sorting table was virtually unnecessary, and his family’s domaine produced 15% more wine than in the similarly warm and dry 2018. Domaine du Bagnol’s rigorous vineyard practices (organic-certified since 2014) and careful, precise cellar work have resulted in wines of increased harmony and complexity with each passing year, and this vintage of their Cassis Rosé represents a new pinnacle for a justly beloved cuvée. Comprising 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Mourvèdre, the rose-petal-colored 2019 was pressed directly and rapidly (in under two hours) to extract as little color as possible, and the bottled wine contains only 20 milligrams per liter of total sulfur—a factor which contributes to its gorgeous purity of texture and precise, intense evocation of limestone soil.
Ninth-generation Etienne Portalis displays ever-greater confidence and mastery of craft with each vintage, and his rosés reach new heights with the below range of 2019s. Employing only spontaneous fermentations and using a variety of casks for vinification and aging (cement, steel, foudre), Etienne produces rosés of vinous complexity and impressive concentration, all with an evocative salinity at their core. These are wines which justify Bandol’s lofty reputation near the top of the rosé genre, while simultaneously reinforcing Pradeaux’s peerless position within this singular seaside appellation. Etienne began harvesting on September 20th under warm, dry conditions, but the overall year’s water supply was greater than in 2018, resulting in rosés of riveting acidity and excellent balance. As is ever the case, these rosés will drink great young but will amply reward cellaring as well.
2019 Côtes de Provence Rosé
The 2019 Pradeaux Côtes de Provence Rosé carries less Mourvèdre than last year’s: 65% (compared to 75% in the 2018), with 25% Cinsault and 10% Grenache completing the blend. Etienne remarks that the lower proportion of Mourvèdre makes the wine saltier, and indeed this vintage offers a mouthwatering, acid-driven palate of intense mineral cling, with honest, non-confected flavors of dried strawberries and Provençal herbs. Vinified and aged entirely in steel, this wine comes within striking distance of the Bandol in its complexity, yet is brisker and lighter on its feet overall.
2019 Bandol Rosé
As the last bastion of ultra-traditional Bandol, Château Pradeaux never allocates more than 30% of its total harvest toward rosé, even as other growers in the appellation convert ever-greater proportions of their production to pink in order to satisfy the demands of the market. The Bandol Rosé they do produce is a standard-bearer, always among the most magisterial rosés in all of France and a fixture of our portfolio for nearly four decades. Comprising equal proportions of Mourvèdre and Cinsault, the 2019 clocks in at 14.1% alcohol but bears not a trace of heat, instead offering a freshness exceeding that of the quite rich 2018. Jellied quince, crunchy melon, and guava vie for attention with the wine’s turbo-charged chalky core and sizzling acid profile, and an overall sense of intense concentration bodes well for its future development.
2018 “Vesprée” Vin de France
With the 2016 vintage, Etienne began producing “Vesprée”—a rosé of pure Mourvedre from among his oldest vines (60 to 70 years old), vinified and aged partly in cement egg and partly in 600-liter demi-muid. The wine spends ample time on its lees without being racked, and is bottled just before the following harvest rather than early in the year like most rosés—hence the arrival of the 2018 vintage this season. Both saltier and richer than the flagship Bandol Rosé, “Vesprée” (named after the appearance of the sun’s fading rays as dusk approaches) follows the inherent seriousness of the category to a further extreme, yet it remains lively, focused, and Provençal to its core. Despite its deeply imbedded sense of classicism, however, the wine often provokes accusations of atypicality from the woefully conservative appellation authorities, and indeed this stunning 2018 bears a Vin de France designation.
2018 Palette Rosé [available now]
Château Simone’s legendary Palette Rosé makes a legitimate claim as perhaps the greatest rosé in all of France, and, as is the case with their white and red wines, there is certainly nothing else quite like it. Built on the backs of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with smaller amounts of Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Castet, Manosquin, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir, and Muscat de Hambourg, Simone Rosé is produced from a blend of equal parts direct-press and saignée juice. Whereas much commercial-minded rosé is fermented with artificial yeasts and rushed into bottle well before spring’s first shoots emerge, Château Simone’s spends nearly a full year (hence the 2018 vintage here) in old foudres resting on its lees and gaining remarkable depth, with sulfur applied only at the moment of bottling. Sumptuous and utterly seamless in its texture, this 2018 bastes the palate with savory red fruits and delivers an almost viscous impression of concentration. As with all vintages of this wine, it will doubtlessly develop beautifully in bottle for well over a decade.
2019 Luberon Rosé “Poudrière”
It’s an unlikely story: the heir to an enviable share of holdings in Chassagne-Montrachet ends up unlocking the potential of an appellation in northern Provence known more for bulk wine than nuanced expressions of terroir—yet that is precisely what we’re seeing as Sylvain Morey continues to improve and evolve at Bastide du Claux, his outpost in the Luberon which he acquired in the early 2000s. Sylvain is currently undergoing organic certification, which he will obtain in 2021 (though he has been practicing since 2015), and his commitment to harvesting by hand, fermenting without additions, and tailoring blending and élévage to the characteristics of each harvest results in wines of striking depth and purity. The 2019 “Poudrière” blends 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault, with the Syrah and part of the Grenache pressed directly, and the Cinsault and the other part of the Grenache bled off. With flavors of black cherries and peach skins, it presents mouthwatering textural tension and an underlying sense of minerality, as well as an unforced vinosity that shames many of its confected Provençal cousins from more market-friendly area codes.
2019 Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé
Gilles Gasq has had an impressive run lately, having begun producing a dynamite Châteauneuf-du-Pape in addition to his always-reliable offerings from the Côtes-du-Rhône and the Plan de Dieu. His 2019 Rosé, comprising 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah, was produced solely via direct-press and aged in stainless steel on its fine lees for several months before bottling. Sprightlier and more linear than its 2018 counterpart, it offers bright, friendly strawberry fruit, gentle but well-measured acidity, and an underlying freshness not often found in the rosés of the southern Rhône. The domaine has been certified organic for nearly a decade at this point, and the already-expert Gilles continues to hone his approach to great effect.
2019 Ventoux Rosé “Epicure”
After a brutal 2018 vintage in which Luc Guenard suffered a massive reduction in crop size, 2019’s relative bounty was a particularly welcome blessing. Steadfastly organic in his viticultural practices, Guenard reported remarkably clean and healthy fruit in 2019, and for the first time ever he added no sulfur whatsoever to the grapes at harvest time. Composed of one-third each Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, and produced via direct press, “Epicure” is vinified and aged in cement and given only a very light filtration at bottling. This 2019 is vivid in its fruit profile, with flavors of melon and cherry framing a ripe, round texture that nonetheless displays a refreshing and acid-driven sense of lift.
2019 Ventoux Rosé
The rock-steady Soard brothers produced a remarkable version of their Ventoux Rosé in the 2019 vintage, a season which offered a similarly warm and dry character to 2018 but without that summer’s overwhelming hydric stress. Composed of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Carignan, and produced solely via direct press, this 2019 offers perkier acidity and an overall greater sense of energy than the 2018, with a sense of well-judged restraint that characterizes all the domaine’s wines. Fenouillet has been certified organic since the 2012 vintage, a fact which shows in this rosé’s vibrancy and vividness of fruit.
2019 Gigondas Rosé “Amour de Rose”
Our stalwart source of great Gigondas for nearly forty years, Gour de Chaulé is undergoing an exciting period, with Stephanie Fumoso’s intelligent and passionate young son Paul having recently joined the domaine full-time. Comprising 40% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, and 20% Mourvèdre, their 2019 Gigondas Rosé clocks in at 14.5% alcohol, but this lofty level belies the wine’s sense of harmony and freshness. Whereas the wine in times past was produced purely from saignée, Stephanie began incorporating a proportion of directly pressed juice some years back, and for the past few years it has been made exclusively via the direct-press method. Furthermore, Stephanie and Paul harvest those plots destined for their rosé earlier than those for their red—and always early in the morning in order to preserve freshness and minimize the use of sulfur at the time of picking.
2019 Syrah Rosé “Sybel” IGP Collines Rhodaniennes
The immensely talented Yves Cuilleron has amassed a towering reputation over his 33-year career for rendering northern Rhône wines of typicity, depth, and pleasure. Tucked among his formidable and expansive lineup is “Sybel”—a rosé of pure hand-harvested Syrah produced from the bled-off juice of his many cuvées, fermented spontaneously and aged in a combination of steel and large wood. Both easygoing and surprisingly terroir-expressive, it is a rosé that could come from nowhere but the northern Rhône, and it represents remarkable value year-in and year-out.
2019 Corbières Rosé “Rosé des Glacières”
For the even-keeled and remarkably kind Jean-Baptiste Gibert, 2019 was an even drier year overall than 2018—a not-insignificant fact given the already inherently rugged and rain-starved climate of Corbières. With assistance from some well-timed rainfall in August and early September, however, Gibert’s organically tended vineyards yielded a relatively large crop of impeccable fruit in 2019. His always unique “Rosé des Glacières”—pure saignée Syrah from vines up to 40 years old—offers more freshness than a typical vintage, with a drier impression overall (its 1.5 grams per liter of residual sugar are undetectable). Flavors of macerated strawberries and Provençal garrigue spread generously over the palate, given definition by tangy but supple acidity and an appealing undertone of gentle bitterness.
2019 Bordeaux Rosé
Husband and wife Olivier Allo and Angelique Armand produce an impressive range from their estate’s holdings in and around Sainte-Croix-du-Mont—a zone historically coveted for its finely wrought botrytised sweet wines but capable of producing excellent dry wines as well. Their restrained, beautifully balanced Bordeaux Rosé blends equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and is produced solely via direct pressing. In keeping with its vintage-mates across France, this 2019 is lighter in color and in spirit than the 2018, both fully ripe and delicately pretty, and with a clear, focused line of acidity.
2018 “Rose-Marie” Vin de France [available now]
Like all of this enigmatic and iconic estate’s wines, Le Puy’s “Rose-Marie” is a true outlier. Since the 2006 harvest, the Amoreau family has bottled a rosé of pure Merlot from the bled-off juice of a single vat of “Barthélemy”—the wine they produce from their highest-altitude and most prized vineyard. “Rose-Marie” is aged in old barrels without the addition of yeasts, sulfur, or, for that matter, anything at all. The results are startling in their purity and frankness, with unmediated flavors of herb-tinged red fruits wed to a riveting acidity and a powerful underlying sense of chalk (Barthélemy has less than a foot of topsoil atop its mother-rock of solid Astrée limestone). Rare and delicious, “Rose-Marie” is produced in minuscule quantities and is only available sporadically; it is a wine that will challenge one’s notion of what rosé can be, and in the best and most satisfying way imaginable.
2019 Rosé de Loire “Astrée”
2019 marks the first vintage from flowering to harvest for Soucherie’s new chef de cave Vianney de Tastes, whose skilled, delicate touch resulted in a rosé of excellent poise. Produced entirely from direct-press Gamay planted in the Astrée vineyard—a departure from the Grolleau-Gamay blend of the previous vintage—this 2019 Rosé de Loire is ethereally pale, pouring a glinting light-copper in the glass. The palate continues the theme, with vivacious acidity and a captivating combination of serenity and energy; one gets all the prettiness of Gamay without any of the excess roundness to which it is sometimes prone. Notably, the entire 6,000-bottle production of the 2019 was allotted to Rosenthal Wine Merchant, and we couldn’t be happier with the quality and value this exemplary rosé provides.
2019 Menetou-Salon Rosé
With each passing vintage, Philippe Gilbert cements his position at the vanguard of this eastern Loire appellation. His steadfast commitment to biodynamics (he was the first in Menetou-Salon to adopt the practice), his refusal to machine-harvest, and his minimal intervention in vinification and aging result in wines of energy, clarity, and visceral exuberance. Philippe’s ever-delightful rosé shines in 2019—a season which, like 2018, was overwhelmingly hot and dry, but which produced wines of greater equilibrium and drive. Produced from directly pressed Pinot Noir and aged on its lees in stainless steel, the 2019 carries an undetectable 1.9 grams per liter of residual sugar and clocks in at 13.4% alcohol. It offers a very pure expression of calcareous minerality, with delicate but juicy cherry fruit and a soaring but well-integrated acidity.
2019 Sancerre Rosé
Gilles Crochet reported a particularly small Pinot Noir harvest in 2019—about half of a normal yield—due to an unusually intense late-summer heat wave which grilled a portion of bunches not shielded by leaf cover. Despite a warm and dry season, however, the 2019 Sancerre Rosé displays the rapier-like precision and scintillating minerality for which the estate is renowned, albeit with a subtle wink toward Pinot Noir succulence which cooler vintages often lack. Produced entirely from hand-harvested direct-press Pinot Noir, it spends several months on its fine lees in stainless steel before bottling, and develops interestingly in bottle for several years past vintage.
Drinking this marvelous wine this evening. Gorgeous in all aspects. Aromatic with dark cherry and cigar box aromas. Quite full in the mouth but with a graceful, persistent finish marked by velvety tannins. 19 years young with plenty of energy for the long haul. A complete, complex and impeccable wine.
We initially met Michel Gahier ten years ago through his neighbor Jacques Puffeney (a man who truly needs no introduction), just as wider awareness in the region was beginning to crest.
With his impressive array of holdings throughout Chassagne-Montrachet, complemented by parcels in Puligny-Montrachet, Santenay, Montagny, and Rully, Jean-Marc Pillot is among our most important suppliers of Burgundy. Since our first vintage together over twenty years ago, we have…
We have been working happily with the Rollin family in Pernand-Vergelesses since 1982. Over the years, first with Maurice and his son Rémi, and today with Rémi and his son Simon, this rock-solid domaine has always provided us with wines of finesse, character, and startling purity—
The story of the legendary Montevertine estate in Radda-in-Chianti begins in 1967, when Milanese industrialist Sergio Manetti purchased the property and immediately planted two hectares of vines.
It’s difficult to believe that we are preparing to receive our fourteenth vintage from the sisters of Monastero Suore Cistercensi. Led by Adriana and Fabiola (pictured left), this convent of 70 Cistercian nuns has been…
Those who decry the lack of access to fine Burgundy at palatable prices need look no further than Domaine Henri Prudhon in Saint-Aubin. While it is undeniably true that the prices of many wines from the most battled-after growers have reached the level of pure commodity, there are still areas of this hallowed region where one can find great Burgundy at affordable prices—villages like Saint-Aubin, with vineyards on a high slope, in a cool microclimate, mere paces away from grand cru turf.
With over thirty harvests under his belt, Regis Forey exudes the calm, warm confidence of a seasoned Burgundian vigneron operating at the apex of his powers. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Regis crafted robust, dense wines from his family’s enviable holdings in the Côte de Nuits—impressive wines which have aged superbly, but which do occasionally bear traces of a certain youthful striving. In recent years, however, he has honed a style that prioritizes subtlety in numerous ways: a shift from traditional 228-liter Burgundy barrels to 500-liter demi-muids in order to reduce the influence of oak; less manipulation of the cap during fermentation (once-per-day punching down at most) to promote gentler extraction; an increasing incorporation of whole clusters (which reduce color and emphasize higher aromatic tones); and a markedly reduced sulfur regimen.
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 Château 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. A bottle of Simone from fifty years ago was produced in the same way, in the same cellar, with literally the same vines, by the same family, as the soon-to-be-released new vintages.
Georges Lignier, Bitouzet-Prieur, and Meix Foulot
To get ahead of the potential effects of the threatened tariffs, we at Rosenthal are front-loading the year with great wine, and we encourage you to take full advantage. Over the next few weeks, we will welcome new releases into our warehouse from three stalwart growers: Georges Lignier in Morey-Saint-Denis, Bitouzet-Prieur in Volnay and Meursault, and Domaine Meix Foulot in Mercurey. Among these arrivals are the benchmark 2015 reds from Georges Lignier, Bitouzet’s finely wrought 2016 whites, and the full lineup of 2015 premier crus (plus the 2017 village-level Mercurey) from Meix Foulot.
Over the past 35 years, Giampiero Bea—both through his own deeply personal wines and his far-reaching influence—has become a cornerstone of our family of growers. Building on the work of his father, a through-and-through farmer whose Umbrian dialect is so thick as to be nearly incomprehensible to outsiders, Giampiero realized what made Paolo’s wines so special and built a working philosophy around it.
When Neal Rosenthal took over his father’s Upper East Side pharmacy-turned-liquor store in 1977, he couldn’t have predicted that it would mark the start of his decades-long career in wine. “I had no experience in wine from both a business or drinking standpoint,” says Rosenthal, adding that, at the time, he had no intention of pursuing it either.
But before long, the one-man retail operation quickly morphed into its current iteration: Rosenthal Wine Merchant, his namesake wine importing business that’s been going strong for more than four decades. In 1979, he started buying wines from California, then, within a year, began looking to Burgundy and beyond to expand his portfolio.
Some folks are so productive, you’d swear they had figured out a way to clone themselves—or at least bargained to add a few extra hours to each of their days. The indefatigable Yves Cuilleron is one such person. When Neal began working with the Cuilleron family 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. Today, Yves produces…
Religious women at a monastery outside Rome produce serious wines.
Passing by the vineyards at Monastero Suore Cistercensi, you may see figures pruning the vineyards or checking out clusters of grapes. What’s unique about these figures, though, is they are each wearing a nun’s habit.
We’ve all heard of beers made by Trappist monks—Chimay—and liqueurs by Carthusians—Chartreuse—but there is wine made by religious women too. At this monastery in Vitorchiano, Italy, the Sisters of the Cistercian Order tend five hectares of vineyards to make two white wine blends, Coenobium and Ruscom, as well as a red wine blend called Benedic.
The Sesia River originates high in the Italian Alps, just below the Monte Rosa glacier on the border of Switzerland, and flows 140 kilometers southeastward before joining the Po River near Casale Monferrato. Along its path, the Sesia passes neatly through the center of the Alto Piemonte, bisecting its winegrowing communes into western and eastern appellations. One hundred and fifty years ago,
It is no exaggeration to count Josko Gravner among the most influential winegrowers of the past half-century, and in the world of non-interventionist wine his impact is perhaps unmatched. His revival of the ancient practice of white-wine skin-maceration over 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.
2016 Guillaume Gilles Cornas Inky ruby. Smoke- and spice-accented cherry liqueur, blueberry and violet scents are complicated by hints of olive paste and cured meat. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering intense black and blue fruit, bitter chocolate and licorice flavors and a spicy touch of cracked pepper. The meaty quality comes back on
IF I’M BROWSING for wine in a retail shop and chance upon an unfamiliar one, I’ll turn the bottle around and check the back label for the name of the importer. That name may be writ small or large, depending on the importer’s ego and/or typeface selection. Either way, it can be a useful indicator of the character, quality and even style of the wine.
Certain importers, such as Neal Rosenthal and Kermit Lynch, became famous decades ago thanks to their consistently well chosen, high-quality, interesting portfolios of wines. (See “The Old Guard,” below, for more about them.) They also inspired a new generation of professionals who have put together their own portfolios of characterful wines. I’m happy to see the name of any of the following companies when I check a back label. I know the wine will be an interesting one—and I’m that much more likely to try it out.
We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant take great pride in the portfolio of small-grower Bordeaux we’ve assembled over the years. The inception of the company aligns closely with a drastic shift in the region toward modern technology and blockbuster-styled wines, but we have always sought vignerons here who prize balance and classicism over showiness. And it all began with Château Haut-Segottes… In 1980, at the very outset of his importing career, Neal made the acquaintance of Danielle Meunier, proprietor of this nine-hectare estate in the heart of the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation.
Weeknights are a state of mind. More accurately, they are a state of fatigue.
Whether it’s a Tuesday or a Saturday, sometimes all you want is an uninterrupted stretch of peace and quiet, maybe some leftovers and a chance to wear out the Netflix subscription. That, and a couple of glasses of decent wine.
Wine with dinner is an easy win, especially with a bottle that is not only good enough to pique your interest and reward your attention, but one that is also inexpensive, without requirements for concentration or close observation.
While Barolo’s style pendulum continues to swing away from the excesses of a few decades back, it is a true reward to work with an estate who never succumbed to modern technology’s seductive promises. The Brovia family established themselves as winegrowers in the hamlet of Castiglione Falletto in 1863, amassing over time an enviable collection of vineyards in some of the zone’s greatest crus (Rocche di Castiglione, Villero, and Garblet Sué), as well as a sizable holding in the cru Brea in Serralunga d’Alba.
Giampiero Bea—both through his own deeply personal wines and his wide-ranging influence—has become a cornerstone of our family of growers. Building on the work of his father—a through-and-through farmer whose Umbrian dialect is so thick as to be nearly incomprehensible to outsiders—Giampiero realized what made Paolo’s wines so special and built a philosophy around it. In a series of decades that saw Italian winegrowers embracing modern technology whole-hog, Giampiero—as co-founder of the ViniVeri (“Real Wine”) group—advocated for respectful vineyard work, biodiversity, a de-emphasis on technology in the cellar, non-engagement with professional critics, and an overall trust in old agrarian wisdom.
One of the more exciting developments at Rosenthal Wine Merchant in recent years has been the expansion of our efforts in the Loire Valley. The “garden of France” is a vital part of our DNA, of course: our partnerships with Lucien Crochet and Philippe Foreau date back to the early 1980s and constitute some of our most important relationships, and we have worked with others there for nearly as long. In terms of our more recent discoveries, last year we debuted the pure and classic wines of Château du Petit Thouars to immediate acclaim, our clients seemingly as excited as we were to once again represent a great source of Chinon. And now, we are thrilled to introduce to the US market our newest partner: Château de Chaintres, in the heart of the lovely appellation of Saumur-Champigny, perched high above the Loire River just to the west of Chinon.
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 back 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 local named Bruno Bini who was born and raised at Montevertine,
What a terrific wine we have at the table tonight! The Mondeuse 2015 from Romain Chamiot is racy and joyous. Classic Alpine notes of pine resin and wild berry fruit with vigorous acidity and impeccable balance. Very much proof of the nobility of Mondeuse when planted on these sub-Alpine plateaus. Excellent value as well! NIR
Drinking this wine tonight. This is the sort of Nebbiolo that I grew up on. Fine, sexy, somewhat pale in color, grainy tannins with bitter cherry flavor, hints of earth on nose and palate, subtle spice and tree bark to boot. Very fine drinking right now with a myriad of dishes … roast chicken, flank steak in its juices are two that come to mind. We had fat portobellos tonight to indulge my vegetarianism which worked perfectly.
Over the past two decades, Jean-Marie Fourrier has justifiably ascended to the upper ranks of Burgundy’s pantheon, and his thrillingly pure and articulate wines are among the most coveted in our entire portfolio. A former protégé of the legendary Henri Jayer, fourth-generation Jean-Marie assumed control of his family domaine with the 1994 vintage, and today he controls nine hectares spread among Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, and Vougeot.
From his five-and-a-half hectares of prime real estate in Puligny-Montrachet—with a sliver in Chassagne-Montrachet—Jacques Carillon produces among the most focused, mineral-drenched, age-worthy white wines in the Côte de Beaune. We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant enjoyed the privilege of working with his father Louis for nearly three decades, and Jacques’s methodology follows directly from his father’s—as does the character of the wines.
Sitting on the deck on a lovely summer’s eve finishing a bottle of Sizzano 2013 from MONSECCO after polishing off a pizza fresh out of the oven topped with pickings from the garden. What a joy this unpretentious wine is! Aromatically compelling with the classic scents of Nebbiolo … the earthy compost underlies the faded,
Sitting at The Corner in the Hotel Tivoli drinking the 2013 Sancerre Rouge “Croix du Roy” from Lucien and Gilles Crochet. Married specifically to a plate of potato gnocchi with fava beans but went equally well with the green pea risotto served simultaneously. The essential red fruit of the wine was subtle and charming; the
Just finished a lovely little red from Valcombe that sang beautifully over two days. It is a shame that this estate in the Ventoux is often overlooked as Luc Guénard is cranking out some satisfying wines at very reasonable prices. And, as for purity of expression and total absence of manipulation in the cellar as
Our biannual visits with the Foreau clan in Vouvray have developed a certain reassuring rhythm over the many years of our partnership. We convene in the house, toasting with the latest disgorgement of their peerless Brut (which routinely spends at least five years on its lees).
This past Saturday night we entertained some friends for dinner and drew some precious wines from the cellar … as you can witness from the photo. Each of the five wines served was in splendid condition.
The histories of Rosenthal Wine Merchant and the village of Carema have been intertwined since January of 1980, when Neal purchased a small lot of wine from Luigi Ferrando—the very first wine he ever imported. In the ensuing four decades, Ferrando’s Carema has gone from a wine virtually unknown outside of its immediate vicinity to one of the most iconic wines in our portfolio, revered by enthusiasts across the United States and well beyond, and allocated down to the bottle.
By Eric Asimov June 6, 2019 June is here, and in wine shops and on restaurant wine lists that can only mean one thing: The rosés have arrived. For the next three months, the world will be awash in rosés. When the summer ends, they will disappear, consigned to dusty back shelves until the calendar
A rock-solid source of pure, chiseled red Burgundy for us for over 25 years now, Domaine Jérôme Chezeaux is undergoing a particularly exciting phase right now. While the wines have always been honest and delicious, the last few vintages show a level of finesse and precision which—in a just world—would vault them into the top ranks of the Côte d’Or’s elite. Furthermore, Jérôme’s daughter Lyse, having completed a series of international internships, has now joined her father full-time, her brightness and enthusiasm adding a wonderful dimension to our visits to the family cellar.
2016s from Guillaume Gilles and Domaine Lionnet.
The whole of Cornas comprises 145 hectares of vines—smaller than many individual mid-sized estates in a region like Bordeaux or Tuscany—and its punishingly steep slopes ensure, in Darwinian fashion, that only the most committed growers will forge wine here. We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have always had a penchant for the gutsy, wild Syrah that issues forth from this southernmost Northern Rhône hamlet, and our long relationship with the legendary Robert Michel (who retired after the 2006 vintage) provided us a succession of ruggedly traditional wines which still dazzle to this day.
Broad and imposing, the hill of Corton visually dominates its immediate environs, announcing the commencement of the Côte de Beaune in dramatic fashion as one heads from north to south. Here, the rigorous unbroken east-facing procession of the Côte de Nuits yields to a circular orientation, as the vineyards of Ladoix, Aloxe-Corton, and Pernand-Vergelesses fan out 360 degrees from Corton’s densely forested cap—echoing the more variegated orientations and multiple diversionary combes of the Côte de Beaune itself.
Each new release from the tiny Cappellano estate in Serralunga d’Alba is a cause for celebration. Although they have never courted the press—the legendary late Teobaldo Cappellano famously forbade critics from scoring his wines—they have developed a riotously enthusiastic following over the years for their uncompromisingly traditional, scintillatingly pure creations.
It is telling that the name for the geology of the Carso is also the name of the region itself; Carso/Karst/Kras, after all, means both the stone and the place, and this picturesque stretch of the Istrian Peninsula between Trieste and the Isonzo River is defined by the hard limestone on which it sits. Winegrowing here, indeed, is no mean feat, and the labor required simply to cultivate the vine in this unforgiving terrain speaks to the admirable tenacity of its inhabitants.
No. 4 was the 2015 Cuvée Carlan from Mas Jullien, a bright, balanced and structured blend of 60 percent grenache, 30 percent cinsault and a mixture of other varieties in the remainder.
Laurent Lignier, now in his fifteenth year at the helm of his family’s hallowed domaine, has achieved an unprecedented level of purity and precision in his 2016s—which are slated to reach our shores in mid-April. During his tenure, he has steered the family’s already impeccable vineyard work towards a fully organic regimen, and the domaine has been certified organic as of the 2018 vintage.
It is always immensely satisfying when a great grower finally gets their due. Domaine Levet in Côte-Rôtie has been a cornerstone of our portfolio since the 1983 vintage—the first they ever produced—and, while they have always had a loyal following, it is only in recent years that demand for their uncompromisingly feral wines has exploded.
Those who decry the lack of access to fine Burgundy at palatable prices need look no further than Domaine Henri Prudhon in Saint-Aubin. While it is undeniably true that the prices of many wines from the most battled-after growers have reached the level of pure commodity, there are still areas of this hallowed region where one can find great Burgundy at affordable prices – villages like Saint-Aubin, with vineyards on a high-slope, in a cool-microclimate lying paces away from grand cru turf.
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
Thirty years ago, a regular customer at the Rosenthal Wine Merchant retail shop presented Neal a bottle of 1985 Montefalco Rosso Riserva from Paolo Bea—a wine he had brought back in his luggage because he wanted so much to share it with him. Neal, no stranger to that sort of pitch, wasn’t expecting much, but the bottle so ignited his imagination that he built in a trip to Umbria a few weeks down the road to make the acquaintance of Giampiero, Paolo’s young son.
With his impressive array of holdings throughout Chassagne-Montrachet, complemented by parcels in Puligny-Montrachet, Santenay, and Montagny, Jean-Marc Pillot is among our most important suppliers of Burgundy.
A subject quite close to my consciousness obviously … and these three old friends each demonstrate the elegance of age built on the foundation of youthful strength and excellent breed.
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.
For those who think these wines are a tad expensive, consider this: that harvest levels are sometimes as low as 20 hectolitres per hectare at these two Mas. Reflect on that when you are considering village level white Burgundy at $600+ per case (rendement frequently 50 to 60 hl/ha). Organic?
I spent a delightful morning with Florence and Jean-Francois (known as “Jeff” to Florence!) Rougier after departing from the early morning visit with Sylvain MOREY. The deep dive into Simone started with a trio of vintages of Grands Carmes Blanc.
When drinking a Bordeaux as alive, as seamless, as the 2015 “Emilien” from Château Le Puy, it’s difficult to believe that the estate makes an even greater wine—but they do. Produced from the Amoreau family’s highest-altitude vineyard, “Barthélemy” (named after the ancestor who built the current-day château back in the early 19th century) is released
The vastness of Italy’s rich viticultural variety never ceases to amaze, and it is always a thrill to turn over a heretofore unknown stone. During the past few years, due to our new relationships with Gravner, Zidarich, and Vodopivec, we found ourselves spending more time in the northeast of the country, and taking a closer
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.
Agile, energetic wines that are versatile with many foods are best for the holiday feast. But with delicious food and lively company, it’s hard to go wrong. By Eric Asimov Nov. 1, 2018 Somewhere in this great land on Thanksgiving Day, a guest on the corny side will arrive at the feast, grinning and bearing
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
White and red, Bordeaux bargains abound. Here are 12 elegant, affordable picks. RAY ISLE October 09, 2018 French wine for Thanksgiving? Sacrilege! Why not drink something all-American, like Zinfandel … oh wait, that probably has its origins in Croatia, where it’s known as Crljenak Kaštelanski. The truth is, almost all of the wine we drink
GuildSomm Kelli White 18 Oct 2018 Neal Rosenthal throws open the door to his upstate New York farmhouse. Two red-tinted standard poodles spill out from either side of his legs and begin their inspection. I hold out my hands in greeting—one to Neal, one to the dogs. “You made it!” he exclaims, sounding as surprised
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
I thought considerably about this pairing, and it might be one of my favorites. “Many more people agree they hate poetry than can agree with poetry is,” writes Ben Lerner in this slim little volume that explores why, for millennia, people, even poets themselves like Lerner have been actively hating poetry even as its held
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,
The Pour Eric Asimov Sept. 20, 2018 When you come home and you just want to flop, you want a wine that is inexpensive and undemanding. But that doesn’t mean the wine can’t be great. Weeknight wines are a genre of their own, but don’t take the phrase too literally. Plenty of people work weekends.
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
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
by Simon J Woolf 15/07/2018 Latest, Orange weekly Every week, Simon selects an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed his attention. View the whole series here “The first problem for wine producers is not oidium, it’s ego”, states Paolo Vodopivec disarmingly. “I don’t want my ego in my wines”.
BY JOSH RAYNOLDS | JULY 18, 2018 Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s monumental 2015 vintage was a tough act to follow, but 2016 was up to the challenge. In fact, in many cases the wines from this uniformly outstanding warm year actually outclass – or at least outmuscle – their older siblings. If exuberant ripe fruit, harmonious tannins and
BY NEAL MARTIN | JULY 17, 2018 Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur farms 12 hectares around the village of Volnay and Meursault, including a clutch of serious Volnay premier crus. I tasted a small selection of 2016s that had been recently bottled with winemaker François Bitouzet, the son of Vincent Bitouzet and Anne Prieur. Bitouzet practices organic viticulture
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
Join Us At: Closerie Les Capucines 7 rue de Bourgogne F39600 ARBOIS Tél : 33 (0)3 84 66 17 38 email : firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile : 33 (0)6 50 83 26 00 fax: 33 (0)3 84 66 21 58 web: closerielescapucines.com We are pleased to announce that, as of 31 May 2018, we have acquired “Closerie
BY THE GLASS || By Ellen Bhang || GLOBE CORRESPONDENT || MAY 28, 2018 || The Mediterranean-hugging region of Provence in the sunny French South is arguably the most rosé-associated place on the planet. And while there is plenty of pink to be had, don’t let glossy ad campaigns lull you into thinking that’s all
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
Empire State South’s wine director recommends five of his favs. May 2018 || Steven Grubbs || The text message usually comes early evening: I’m at a wine shop what do I buy I could list some of my favorite French and Italian vintners, but there is zero guarantee that their bottles will be on the
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
From the advantages to staying small to the nuances of scaling the intimacy factor. By Cathy Huyghe Co-founder, Enolytics. Not every entrepreneur can afford to wait over 40 years to launch a brand extension. But for Neal Rosenthal, one of the most respected and established wine merchants in the world, his new venture into wine
2015 Domaine de la Petite Mairie, Bourgueil Rouge “Butte de Tyron” Loire Valley, France. A new domaine to me, Domaine de la Petite Mairie, is owned and managed by Corinne and James Petit, an enthusiastic couple who passionately care for their vines in the Bourgueil region of France’s Loire Valley, making studied and elegant versions
APR 30, 2018 Food & Drink Cathy Huyghe , CONTRIBUTOR How do you know which bottle to choose when you’re standing in front of a wall full of wine? That’s a question I hear a lot. For the answer, I rely on a lesson learned long ago. “Turn the bottle around.” To the back label,
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
Each year, a rapt audience of Piemonte die-hards eagerly awaits the release of a new vintage from the Cappellano family in Serralunga d’Alba. In a zone so seduced by modern methods over the past few decades, Cappellano is the rare estate that never made concessions to technological trickery, never changed their wines to suit the
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