Beneath the towns that flank the central Loire lies another world. It is a world of caves, dug into limestone by prior generations—folks who knew that the ideal place to nurture a bottle of wine is deep within the same earth that nourishes the vines from which it came. Given the extensive German occupation they endured in World War II Read More
Sylvain Morey’s career path is a far cry from that of a typical Burgundian vigneron. As a boy, he worked among the vines with his larger-than-life father Jean-Marc and his grandfather Albert—two dyed-in-the-wool old-schoolers with whom we at Rosenthal partnered joyously for many years. Read More
These regions, often but not always peripheral to the countries in which they find themselves, harness their historical and cultural tensions to produce some of the greatest, most intriguing wines that we at RWM have the pleasure to include in our portfolio.
Even in warmer weather, some occasions cry out for a red. This Tuscan wine is a gorgeous expression of sangiovese, with many excellent producers.
Here’s my wine for the summer: Chianti Classico.
I know, it’s not what people usually imagine as a summer wine. It’s red, for one thing. Sunny days, sweaty nights and poolside tables are the regular haunts of rosés and whites.
I’ve always resisted the notion that seasons alone dictate what’s best to drink. It’s the food at least as much as the weather.
For us here at Rosenthal Wine Merchant, as well as for countless drinkers across the country, Château Le Puy has greatly expanded our notion of what Bordeaux can be—aesthetically, philosophically, and historically. In a region teeming with commercially minded product and still suffering from the excesses of an era during which power was seemingly prized over grace, Le Puy is a beacon Read More
We opened our first bottle from Domaine Viret tonight … the ENERGIE 2019. Get excited because this wine has “blockbuster” written all over it. A quaffable yet serious wine that renders its Syrah component with exceptional elegance and purity. “Energie” offers formidable value at its price level. I suggest everyone on the sales squad sample […]
My first trip to the Languedoc did not go as I expected. Rather than piercing deep into an unknown, unexplored realm, I instead felt a strange, through-the-looking-glass sense of homecoming. The Languedoc’s craggy hills and wild friche, while a world away from the climate of Vouvray or Chablis, resembled uncannily the scattered Chaparral that […]
Atop a hill in Saint-Maurice-sur-Eygues, in the southern Côtes-du-Rhône, a structure looms at once imposing and beautiful. Constructed of rectangular earthen-yellow stones broader than a human’s wingspan, it is flanked on the entirety of its left side by an Ionic-columned portico, and punctuated on its upper level by three large circle-top windows. Read More
In a year of many exciting additions to our Italian portfolio, we at Rosenthal Wine Merchant are thrilled to announce our first foray into the region of Emilia-Romagna. In 2008, Gianluca Bergianti founded Terrevive with 16 hectares in the village of Gargallo di Carpi just outside Modena…Read More
The Recaredo estate in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is justly regarded as the greatest producer of sparkling wine in the Penedès. Their long-lees-aged, zero-dosage, single-vintage, hand-disgorged wines are ubiquitous on the greatest wine lists in Catalunya and in Spain in general, and we at RWM have greatly relished building their reputation here in the United States over the past dozen years of our partnership. Read More
The traditionalism of the Cappellano family in Serralunga d’Alba is not one of blind adherence to the past. It is a searching, intelligent traditionalism, one which prioritizes accumulated wisdom and connectedness to the land over the allure of technology and the pressures of the market. Read More
Sancerre is not exactly a hotbed of experimentation. Knowing that it can generally be sold on name alone, its growers hew toward conservatism, and it requires a particularly driven vigneron to veer from the citrus-and-chalk orthodoxy the market has come to expect from the appellation. Read More
With only 11 domaines and 220 cultivated hectares of vines, the gorgeous seaside appellation of Cassis produces distinctive wines of sun-soaked Mediterranean generosity and marked salinity, the vast majority of which are consumed locally. We have worked with the Domaine du Bagnol since the early 1980s, first with former owner Claire Lefevre, and since the early 2000s with the magnetic Genovesi family, proudly representing among the very few examples of this historic appellation to be found in the American market. Read More
Certain wines feel timeless, elemental. They cut through the ephemera of technology, fashion, ideology, and marketing, and hit the taster right in the gut. Such experiences are precious, and increasingly rare, so it is with immense gratitude that we introduce our newest partner in Tuscany: Read More
The frost damage of this past week that affected large swaths of the European vineyards has become depressingly familiar as a storyline. Although there is much discussion of the frequently excessively hot summers that have occurred in Europe, the greatest impact of climate change on the wine sector is the mild nature of the winter […]
Few American drinkers are well acquainted with the Luberon, the picturesque interzone between the southern Rhône and the
northern part of Provence, as its production for many years has been geared toward simple bulk wine. However, our good friend Sylvain Morey—the youngest in a 400-year line of Moreys in Chassagne-Montrachet—is deeply engaged in unlocking the potential of the region, Read More
This domaine possesses among the more astonishing collections of vineyards in the Côte de Nuits, but it wasn’t until young Benoit Stehly—Georges’ nephew—took the reins in 2010 that the wines began to articulate fully the greatness of their terroirs. Read More
Wine School By Eric Asimov April 2, 2021 Back in the 1980s, when I was learning about wine, I used to cherish Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It seemed like an important and wonderful appellation. Certainly the bottles impressed me, with their dignified crests embossed right on the glass and their imposing labels, often in Gothic fonts. Domaine Gour […]
As those familiar with our tastes may surmise, we at Rosenthal were not explicitly seeking out high-alcohol wine from the deep south of Italy in the recent past; nonetheless, the Attanasio family’s bold, wild Primitivo di Manduria grabbed us by the collar…Read More
In advance of a trip to Provence in September of 2020, we were fortunate to be introduced to Chateau Les Mesclances by Etienne Portalis, who currently helms the singular Chateau Pradeaux in Bandol. Read More
Until very recently, we found ourselves in a curious position: despite working with two of the most beloved producers in the Chianti Classico zone—Montevertine in Radda-in-Chianti and Le Boncie in Castelnuovo Berardenga—we had no “Chianti Classico” to offer our clients, as both of these maverick growers choose to operate outside the classification system. Read More
One of the oldest partnerships in our entire family of winegrowers is with this enviably landed domaine, with their staggering collection of holdings throughout Meursault and Volnay. We began our work here first with the hugely talented classicist Vincent Bitouzet—from the 1978 vintage through the 2009 vintage—and, under his son Francois’s stewardship from 2010 on, the wines have gained even greater precision and complexity. Read More
Last spring, a young woman named Maria Sole Giannelli reached out to us via email about potentially representing her wines in the US. While we receive scores of such solicitations each year, Maria Sole’s sincerity and passion for her craft shone through almost disarmingly in that initial correspondence, and we began a conversation, full of curiosity. Read More
If you take a single variety and make wine in three distinct regions, how different will the wines be?
By Eric Asimov
Feb. 22, 2021
How important is the choice of grape in determining the character of a wine?
Extremely important, obviously. But it is far from the sole factor. Soil and bedrock, climate, farming methods, altitude and inclination, intent of the winemaker — all the elements of terroir can be just as important. Read More
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:…Read More
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…Read More
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 New Partner in the Heart of the Camargue
Just upstream of the ancient city of Arles, the mighty Rhône river abruptly forks, and its resultant two arms—the southeasterly-flowing Grand Rhône and the southwesterly-flowing Petit Rhône—encircle the largest river delta in western Europe.
In the big business that Provence rosé has become over the past fifteen years or so, it is easy to imagine that all stones have been turned over, that all worthwhile producers are represented in the market, and that every “new” Côtes de Provence pink out there is in fact just a label created in a boardroom and made with purchased juice…
The story of the legendary Montevertine estate in Radda-in-Chianti begins in 1967, when Milanese industrialist Sergio Manetti purchased the property …
In a pandemic era, when traveling is largely out of the question, these wines, good values all, can take you on a trip around the globe.
Good wine has the power to transport. As we now approach a full year locked in pandemic freeze-frame, with many people largely confined within their national borders, wine still provides an opportunity to taste the world.
I’m always intrigued by the wines of the Vallée d’Aoste, a hilly, Alpine region that sits on the border of Italy and France. I especially like those from Grosjean…
2018 Rovellotti Vespolina Ronco al Maso The 2018 Vespolina Ronco al Maso is bright and exuberant in its first impression, just as nervy tannins make an appearance to remind us of where we are. Succulent dark cherry, plum, spice and savory herbs all race out of the glass. This is an especially fruity, forward style, […]
2018 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo The 2018 Pian del Ciampolo is a glorious wine. The purest essence of Radda emerges in a wine with striking translucence and captivating balance. The 2018 offers notable depth with less opulence and more freshness than the 2017. Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint and spice are all finely knit […]
2015 Monsecco Sizzano The 2015 Sizzano is gracious and understated, not to mention wonderfully alluring. Bright red cherry, orange peel, dried flowers and mint are all finely-knit. Translucent, ethereal and light on its feet, the 2015 has so much to offer. It is one of the prettiest wines I have tasted from Monsecco. 92 2020 […]
2019 Domaine Lionnet Saint-Joseph Blanc Pierre Blanche Incisive aromas of fresh nectarine, orange zest and succulent flowers carry a chalky mineral overtone. Sappy, concentrated citrus and orchard fruit flavors show excellent clarity and stain the palate, picking up a touch of fennel and delivering powerful back-end lift. The mineral and floral qualities repeat strongly on […]
2018 Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos-de-la-Roche Grand Cru The 2018 Clos de la Roche Cuvée MCMLV comes from a 0.25-hectare parcel that Laurent’s grandmother said never frosted over. It has a crystalline bouquet of vibrant red cherry and wild strawberry fruit laced with crushed limestone. The palate is silky-smooth on the entry, with perfect acidity and […]
2017 Guillaume Gilles Cornas Opaque ruby. Powerful aromas of ripe dark fruits, olive, smoked meat and exotic spices; a suave floral element builds in the glass. Sappy and energetic on the palate, offering densely packed black and blue fruit, floral pastille and spicecake flavors that turn sweeter on the back half. Finishes very long and […]
2018 Xavier Gérard Saint-Joseph Le Blanchard Deep, youthful violet. Pungent, expansive aromas of ripe black and blue fruits take on spice and floral accents with air. Broad and fleshy yet lively as well, offering bitter cherry, cassis, cracked pepper and violet pastille flavors and a touch of smokiness. Finishes very long and spicy, with repeating […]
2018 Jean-Marie Fourrier Chambertin Grand Cru The 2018 Chambertin Grand Cru has a finely detailed bouquet of blackberry, briar, crushed stone and a touch of iris petal; good focus and detail here. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, taut and precise. The vibrant, shimmering finish is seductive. Excellent. (94-96) 2023 – 2050 Jan 2020 […]
2018 Domaine Philippe Foreau (Clos Naudin) Vouvray Moelleux Réserve A fruit basket of baked pear, guava, banana, and notes of rosewater and orange blossom. Right now, the sugar dominates a bit. This is a rich and unctuous sweetie, but give it some time. 130 grams per liter residual sugar. 90 2022 – 2032 Jul 2020 […]
2018 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Lieu-Dit Vernon Diaphanous yellow-gold. Mineral- and spice-accented orchard, pit fruits and a hint of violet on the deeply perfumed nose. Densely packed yet lively as well, offering palate-staining nectarine, pear liqueur and Meyer lemon flavors that show outstanding clarity and solid back-end thrust. The floral and mineral notes build emphatically on […]
2017 Castello Conti Vino Rosso di Alto Piemonte Origini The 2017 Origini Vino Rosso di Alto Piemonte is Croatina, Nebbiolo, Vespolina, Dolcetto di Boca and Uva Rara. Readers will find an intense wine that melds together rich, exotic dark fruit with all the energy that is typical of Alto Piemonte reds, a combination that works […]
2015 Massimo Clerico Coste della Sesia Ca’ Du Leria The 2015 Coste della Sesia Ca’ Du Leria is a dark, sumptuous wine laced with dark cherry, plum, new leather, licorice and spice. The richness and ripeness of the year are evident, and yet the Ca’ du Leria remains translucent and faithful to its origins. Readers […]
2018 Domaine du Gour de Chaulé Rosé Gigondas Amour de Rose Limpid pink. Potent raspberry and tangerine aromas are complemented by floral and mineral accents that expand in the glass. Juicy and well-concentrated, offering lively red berry, citrus fruit and lavender flavors that tighten up steadily on the back half. The mineral and floral notes […]
2018 Domaine Jean-Jacques Carillon Bienvenue-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru The 2018 Bienvenue-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru amounts to two-and-a-half barrels this year (one barrel new.) It has a beautifully defined bouquet of Granny Smith apples, crushed limestone and a touch of sea spray that gains intensity in the glass. The palate is beautifully balanced with touches of white peach, […]
2016 Brovia Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia The 2016 Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia’ continues a theme of total sensuality in this range. Black cherry, plum, spice, lavender, mint, licorice, sage, black pepper and leather infuse the wine with striking layers of nuance. The 2016 possesses striking inner perfume and tons of depth, with impossibly […]
2017 Podere Le Boncie Chianti Classico Le Trame The 2017 Chianti Classico Le Trame is a wine of real character. Amarena cherry, earthiness, licorice and cedar notes develop in a nuanced, silky Chianti Classico that has so much to say. Time in the glass brings out a very pretty aromatic upper register and notable brightness […]
2014 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso San Valentino The 2014 Montefalco Rosso San Valentino is the result of a very difficult vintage for Paolo Bea, though you’d never know it. Here I’m finding an exotic, layered expression, as rosy florals and peppery herbs give way to sweet, crushed strawberries with smoky minerals, hints of soy and […]
2018 Domaine Ghislaine-Barthod Chambolle-Musigny Aux Beaux Bruns 1er Cru The 2018 Chambolle-Musigny Aux Beaux Bruns 1er Cru has one of the most elegant bouquets from Ghislaine Barthod, offering beautiful, seductive red currant, crushed strawberry and crushed rose petal aromas. The palate is very well defined, with strict tannins framing dark berry fruit laced with soy […]
Stunning 2015s, plus a new wine
The past decade has witnessed a massive influx of interest in the Alto Piemonte, as a younger generation whose forebears may have fled the area for big-city comforts came to realize the specialness of what was left behind…
Antonio Galloni (Vinous) recently published his tasting notes on NOAH from the Alto Piemonte.
2018 Rosso Noah
The 2018 Rosso, a blend of Nebbiolo, Croatina and Vespolina, is a total knock-out and also a fabulous introduction to these wines. Sweet red cherry, blood orange, mint, spice and star anise are all beautifully lifted. Translucent and exotic, this deceptively mid-weight red blend packs quite a bit of punch. The 2018 is a wine that captures all the sensuality and allure that make Alto Piemonte wines so compelling.
50% Nebbiolo, 40% Croatina, 10% Vespolina
93pts Drinking window 2023 – 2038
Antonio Galloni Tasting date: Sep 2020
2015 Noah Lessona
The 2015 Lessona is all finesse. Dried flowers, mint, herbs, sweet dried cherry and mineral overtones all grace this sublime, ethereal red. The Lessona is much lighter than the Bramaterra, but its depth and energy are there, they are just expressed in a more understated manner. A whole range of bracing mineral and citrus notes drive the red berry flavors in an utterly beguiling, polished red. What a wine!
95pts Drinking window 2023 – 2040
Antonio Galloni Tasting date: Sep 2020
2015 Noah Bramaterra
The 2015 Bramaterra is rich and explosive in the glass. Blood orange, chalk, mint, white pepper and macerated cherry are some of the many aromas and flavors that develop in the glass. There is something incredibly wild and untamed about the 2015 that is so incredibly enticing. In the glass, the 2015 is deep, powerful and built for the long-haul. It is a wine of tremendous character and breeding.
80% Nebbiolo, 10% Croatina, 10% Vespolina
95pts Drinking window 2023 – 2040
Antonio Galloni Tasting date: Sep 2020
Introducing Two Spectacular New Cuvées of Menetou-Salon Rouge
Philippe Gilbert produces Pinot Noir as one who understands the variety to its core—its charms, its challenges, and its ability to display utmost finesse. Some eastern Loire Pinot Noir suffers from a “Burgundy inferiority complex,” with extraction and oak employed to compensate for the terroir’s tendency toward leanness; other examples display the opposite, with a simple, curt elevage overstating Pinot’s relative simplicity in these zones vis-à-vis the Côte d’Or. Philippe, on the other hand…
Joseph Dorbon’s setup is simple: three hectares of organically tended vines on prime south-facing slopes above his home village of Vadans; a horse to help him plow; and a subterranean 16th-century cellar in which his soulful wines slowly take shape. We met Joseph through Michel Gahier, and indeed the two men share a certain combination of…
By Eric Asimov
Nov. 12, 2020
The end of 2020 is mercifully in sight.
Ordinarily, November and December would be the time for gatherings, parties and celebrations. These are the months when the merchants of sparkling wine earn their keep.
This year? Sigh, and cue the shrug emoji.
We will find ways of commemorating the surreal nature of this year. But give up on sparkling wine? That’s just knuckling under to the forces of darkness.
Sparkling wine is made in just about every winemaking region of the world, in a multitude of styles and from almost any conceivable grape.
In recent decades, we’ve come to accept that sparkling wine can be appropriate for any occasion, not just christenings and ceremonies. All the same, nothing suggests a festive mood better than sparkling wine, even if the parties will be more subdued than usual.
This month we will look at several different sparkling wines, each from a different place and made with different grapes. Here are the three I suggest:
Ferrari Trento Brut Metodo Classico NV (Taub Family Selections, Boca Raton, Fla.) $25
Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Brut 2014 (The Rare Wine Company, Brisbane, Calif.) $32
Recaredo Corpinnat Terrers Brut Nature 2014 (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York) $33
The Ferrari is produced in northern Italy using the same method as Champagne. It even uses a Champagne grape, chardonnay.
The Recaredo is a cava, though it isn’t called that. Recaredo is like a number of leading Catalonian producers that feel the term “cava” has been diminished by the millions of low-quality bottles turned out every year. It, too, is made using the Champagne method, but with local grapes — xarello, parellada and macabeu, grown in the Penedès.
The Huet comes from the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley and is made of chenin blanc, though not by the Champagne method. Instead, Huet employs the methode ancestrale, like a pétillant naturel. Huet does not use that term, although it calls the wine pétillant in another sense of the word, which indicates that the carbonation is gentler than would be typical in a Champagne-style wine.
If you can’t find these wines, plenty of other choices are available. Other good cava-style wine producers include Gramona, Raventós i Blanc, Mestres, Bohigas, AT Roca, Loxarel and Parés Baltà.
Likewise, if you can’t find the Huet, other good chenin blanc sparklers include François Pinon, Jacky Blot, François Chidaine, Arnaud Lambert and Foreau.
The Ferrari should not be hard to find, but if you can’t for some reason, a lot of other Champagne facsimiles are out there, including Franciacorta in Italy or any number of California sparklers. You could always try a Champagne, too, or go further afield, as with a sekt from Germany or Portuguese sparkling wines.
Drink it with fried chicken, or with pizza. Try it with jamón Ibérico with nuts, or really anything you like. I don’t much like Champagne with caviar — that’s vodka’s reason for being — but if you like, why not? Or just drink it with ceremony.
As for 2020, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Langhe maverick Nicoletta Bocca, in her “Valdibà” and “Vigna Dolci” cuvées, issues forth among the finest examples of young-bottled Dolcetto in the entire region. It is with her ultra-long-aged wines, however, that Nicoletta establishes herself as a true visionary: one who pushes Dolcetto and Barbera into little-explored realms—into spaces usually reserved for the haughtier Nebbiolo (on the rare occasions it even reaches such heights). With her beloved “Austri”…
Some wine lovers will run for the hills at the mere mention of Châteauneuf-du-Pape—a bogeyman whose alcohol-driven wallop of overripe fruit threatens to bully the palate and dull the senses. The appellation has certainly seen its share of gloppy, overbearing wines through the years, particularly as global warming and the predilections of a certain prominent palate took sway over the past couple of decades. Indeed, trying to drink wines like these is like trying to dance with a bag of bowling balls.
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.
At a time in which American wine drinkers are spoiled for choice, Swiss wine—which traces its origins back at least to Roman times—remains an enigma. Switzerland’s self-sufficient and insular nature accounts for this in part, as locals consume nearly 99% of the country’s 15,000 hectares worth of production each year. Price has traditionally presented another hurdle, as Switzerland’s relative wealth, combined with the labor-intensive nature of its Alpine viticulture…
… A hunched figure, barely visible in the twilight, barred the great subterranean cellar’s modest entrance. Ragged and weary from their journey, the five sommeliers looked at one another with surprise; the old book had mentioned nothing of a gatekeeper. They had followed the map with great care, the promise of long-buried vinous spoils, theirs for the taking, having sustained them through the endless Krug-less days—but it seemed a final challenge awaited. The sentinel scowled at them from beneath his large hood.
Drinking this exquisite wine this evening, a reminder of the past when wines had a vibrant freshness with modest alcohol levels and scintillating clarity of flavors and aromas. This effort from Magnin is the work of a master vigneron. A wine of impeccable balance with terroir in sharp relief; full with aromas of the mountains […]
The wine shop can be intimidating, with so many different styles of labeling. Here’s help in decoding a dozen basic types.
Buying wine can be a paralyzing challenge. Facing a wall of unfamiliar bottles can frustrate even the most worldly consumer.
Those bottles have labels, of course, often with loads of information about the character and nature of the wine within. But the more detail they offer to knowledgeable wine consumers, the more baffling they seem to the uninitiated.
To cut through the confusion, some wineries simply furnish fewer facts. These wines — often hugely popular ones like Yellow Tail, Barefoot and 19 Crimes — rely on brand names and marketing to build an audience. For dedicated wine lovers, though, the facts are crucial, even if it takes some education to decode a label.
Long before Cava became a brand, a category, a marketing term, a beverage sourced from disparate lands across all of Spain, it was an experimental artisanal wine produced by a handful of visionaries in the Alt Penèdes—the gorgeous rolling hills west of Barcelona in the long shadows of Montserrat, within striking distance of the Mediterranean Sea. The dictates of rapid industrialization transformed Cava from a local Catalan curiosity into a highly marketed juggernaut, with power and influence concentrating in the hands of several enormous bulk producers; but a few holdouts…
Though technically part of Burgundy, Chablis is adamantly its own place, not only for its colder, grimmer climate, or its entirely different geological origins, but for its distinct traditions of élevage. Chablis oaked like a Chassagne-Montrachet loses the ability to articulate its Kimmeridgian intricacies, while a stint in thermoregulated stainless steel often sacrifices texture, resulting in Chablis that feels more like Sancerre—just with slightly different aromatic and flavor signifiers.
The Jura’s meteoric rise among American wine drinkers over the past decade has been well documented, but the wines from the tiny appellation of L’Étoile remain somewhat less known. Perhaps that’s due to its comparatively diminutive size, or perhaps to its lack of appellation-status red wines—much initial fervor over the Jura in the US was driven by the region’s light…
By Eric Asimov
Sept. 3, 2020
This month we’re going to try something a little different.
Ordinarily, I suggest three bottles of the same type of wine. Instead, I want to compare three wines that are closely related but come from different appellations within a larger region, the Northern Rhône Valley of France.
Each is made with the syrah grape. But what if anything distinguishes one from the others? That’s what we are going to examine.
The French appellation system suggests that each place will have its own distinctive characteristics. It’s one thing, say, to compare a Chambolle-Musigny from Burgundy with a Chinon from the Loire Valley. One is made from pinot noir, the other with cabernet franc. You would expect that they would differ for that reason alone.
But if wines are made with the same grape, other factors come into play. In the case of the Northern Rhône, the French authorities concluded long ago that the wines made in St.-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Cornas were all sufficiently distinctive to warrant separate appellations….
We have not covered Cornas previously, so if you cannot find the Granit 30, please consider bottles from Franck Balthazar, Alain Voge, Guillaume Gilles, Mickaël Bourg, Domaine Lionnet and Jean-Baptiste Souillard. I’m not suggesting legendary producers like Thierry Allemand and Auguste Clape, but if you have a spare bottle, by all means go ahead and drink it.
Edgar Coulon is a rare talent. At just 26 years of age, he is quickly becoming the guiding force of his family’s 215-year-old winery in Vrigny, in the heart of the Montagne de Reims in Champagne. Working in tandem with his tireless and supremely talented father Eric, ninth-generation Edgar has worked to steer the estate’s production toward ever-more uncompromising terroir expressivity…Read More
Sylvain Morey’s career path is a far cry from that of a typical Burgundian vigneron. As a boy, he worked among the vines with his larger-than-life father Jean-Marc and his grandfather Albert—two dyed-in-the-wool old-schoolers with whom we at Rosenthal partnered joyously for many years. In the early 2000s…Read More
Sancerre is not exactly a hotbed of experimentation. Knowing that it can generally be sold on name alone, its growers hew toward conservatism, and it requires a particularly driven vigneron to veer from the citrus-and-chalk orthodoxy the market has come to expect from the appellation. Enter Cyril de Benoist de Gentissart…Read More
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…Read More
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. Over the ensuing 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. Read More
Beyond Champagne, excellent bubbly now comes from all over in a diversity of styles. You don’t require a special occasion to enjoy them.
Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut Zéro NV $26.99
The Jura region of France is a reliable source of Champagne-style sparkling wines that are subtly different from Champagne. This one, from the excellent Domaine de Montbourgeau, is a fine example. It’s rich and creamy, yet precise — bone dry and still rounded and lush. In most Champagne-style wines, producers add a dose of sweetness just before sealing the bottle to balance the often searing acidity. But if the wine is balanced without the dosage, as this one is, it can be omitted. Hence the designation, Brut Zéro. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)
Last year a friend asked me a question I had never considered before: Over the many years I had been writing about wine, what was the greatest thing this job had given me?
I answered almost reflexively. As a New Yorker who has spent most of my life living in Manhattan, wine had provided me a connection to nature that I most likely would never have experienced otherwise.
I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few weeks, as the pandemic has now been with us for more than four months. Most of that time, I’ve been in my apartment, far away from vineyards, much less anything that might reasonably be construed as wild and natural, like a forest or ocean. I feel the difference, physically and emotionally.
My friend professed surprise at my answer. He’d assumed that I would cite the wonderful, otherwise inaccessible wines I had been able to drink, or maybe the many intriguing personalities in the wine world with whom I’ve spent time.
These, of course, have been wonderful benefits as well. If I were not representing readers of The New York Times, I would never have had an opportunity, to drink, say, great old wine made from grapes harvested in 1846, or to try 16 vintages of Château Lafite-Rothschild going all the way back to 1868.
I also know that my understanding of wine would not be nearly as rich without having had the opportunity to spend time with people as diverse as Jean-François Fillastre…
By any imaginable metric, Château Simone, the undisputed “Grand Cru” of Provence, is among the very greatest estates in all of France. In their home country, one would be hard-pressed to find a serious wine list without them represented…Read More
To discuss the white wines of the Jura as either “topped up” or “oxidative” is to impose a strict binary on what is in fact a broad continuum. The greatest white wines of the Jura are never monolithically oxidative… Read More
Many people assume that the paler the rosé, the better. Yet one of our three bottles, the Tiberio, was cherry red. The great Bandols are pale, yes, but some of the world’s best rosés, like Château Simone in Palette, a small town in Provence, and Domaine Ilarria in Irouléguy in Southwest France, are as dark as the Cerasuolo.
Chianti suffers from a profound identity crisis: at one extreme, an ocean of under-farmed, over-cropped wines riding on brand recognition and pretend-paisano authenticity; at the other, starched-shirt Super Tuscans with Bordeaux envy and appropriately aspirationalist pricing.Read More
Few French appellations have the brand power of Sancerre. Zippy, citrusy Sancerre coats the throats of millions of drinkers per year, many of whom don’t know that it’s a place, not a grape variety. And, as with other appellations that become household names—Chablis, Champagne, and Bordeaux, for starters—its inherent marketability disincentivizes growers to go the extra mile. Read More
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 pantheon of top Burgundy estates is firmly established and beyond well-deserved. Read More
I love when a bottle reaches out and grabs you by the scruff. I taste my wines frequently—heck, I taste lots of wines frequently—so I feel like I usually have my expectations calibrated pretty accurately as to what I’m about to experience when I pull a cork. Read More
The 2013 Crémant du Jura Réserve “Brut Zero” is spellbinding, and the finest example of the category we have ever encountered. Few pitches in sparkling wine sales are as hackneyed as the “Champagne substitute” angle, but in a very few…Read More
By Eric Asimov
The best examples of these white wines, made with red techniques, are striking and wonderful. Still some dismiss this ancient wine, now trendy once more.
From a distance, what divides white wines from reds seems pretty clear. Yes, the color is obvious, but it’s also the methods of production.
To make red wine, the producer begins by macerating the juice of the grapes with the pigment-bearing skins. This adds not only color to the juice but also tannins, which contribute texture and structure to the darkening wine. When the fermentation is complete and the winemaker is satisfied, the wine is drawn off the skins to begin the aging process.
“Wines like those from Josko Gravner…”
“Farther south, in Umbria, Paolo Bea produces Arboreus, a waxy, bright and juicy wine made of trebbiano spoletino.”
It would require superhuman coldness not to be immediately smitten by Elvio and Annalisa, proprietors of the Ada Nada estate in Barbaresco. Working alongside one’s spouse day in and day out is not for the faint of heart, but these two make it look like utter joy. Elvio, tanned and…
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.
Does not get better than this. Exceptional always but particularly in this vintage. Superb balance with lovely acidity that lifts this wine of important concentration. The terroir of Montefalco rendered to near perfection. NIR
Change has come glacially, but now is the time to explore these Alpine imports.
At first glance, Switzerland’s four official languages, six primary wine regions, 26 political cantons, and 62 appellations take some work to wrap your mind around. But the important things to know are fairly straightforward: the Valais and Vaud — mostly French-speaking and in country’s sunny southeast — produce glorious pinot noir and refreshing chasselas that represent almost all of what we see of Swiss wine in the U.S. These are followed by a smattering of whites and reds from the Three Lakes district just above that and then the many little denominations of the north-easternmost region, known plainly as German-speaking Switzerland. There is also Ticino, extending into the Italian boot, ably if curiously meeting this part of the country’s thirst for merlot.
There is simply no other estate like Château Pradeaux, a pillar of the Rosenthal Wine Merchant portfolio for over 35 years now, and the perennial torchbearer for viscerally traditional Bandol.
Succession is an inevitably precarious affair in the world of wine, which is not only a product of its geology and climate, but the actualization of an individual grower’s aesthetic sensibilities—and, unavoidably, the expression of a grower’s personality as well.
These intriguing wines are sometimes quirky and often unusual. All are delightful, whether with a meal tonight or as gifts to those who could use one.
By Eric Asimov
April 2, 2020
Where I live in Manhattan, wine retailers appear to be experiencing a sales boom, even though many shops are in delivery- or pickup-only mode.
While these are financially difficult times for many people, the desire for wine and spirits remains strong.
People want to drink away the coronavirus blues, at least that’s part of it. But people are also finding comfort in good food, an intriguing bottle of wine, a new cocktail. That’s part of it, too.
So I thought I would put together an inexpensive case of wine, six whites and six reds that I highly recommend and that won’t break the bank. I threw in a few extras, a couple of sparklers and a sherry look-alike. Let’s call it 15 under $15.
Domaine de Fenouillet Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2018 $14.99
This juicy, stony red comes from the Southern Rhône Valley. It’s labeled Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, because the blend of merlot and marselan falls outside of the appellation rules. You already know merlot, and marselan you may get to know. It’s one of seven grapes now permitted in certain Bordeaux appellations as winemakers begin to plan ahead for profound climate change. This one is certified organic and certifiably delicious. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)
Seeing the Ferrando brothers in this photo reminds me of the first visit I made to Carema back in January 1980. In the company of a roguish Neapolitan, I met Luigi Ferrando, father of Roberto and Andrea (seen in this photo) on a damp, overcast day. We met in the small city of Ivrea, home to the Olivetti dynasty, a family noted for its well-conceived approach to urban life, creating over the years a “company town” generous in its living standards and cultural and sporting accoutrements. From Ivrea, we made the short drive to the village of Carema,
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…
Scrambled and sunnysided eggs just gathered an hour or so ago from the chicken coop, sautéed shiitakes in Armato oil with shallots and garlic from last year’s garden and added some Armato oregano and peperoncino, steamed broccoli and Brussels sprouts dressed with Bea “Grezzo” oil … all accompanied by this brilliant Étoile 2016 from Nicole Deriaux’s beautiful Domaine de Montbourgeau. This wine is vivid, vivacious and vibrant, bursting with energy. Sous-voile élevage, no concessions to modernity, honest and true to the grand traditions of the Jura. The salinity obvious in the nose and on the palate references the millennia-old period when this region was ocean rather than terra firma. This wine practically trembles in the mouth with a near static electricity. Fully expressive of its specific terroir, the elegance and cut of Nicole’s wines are on display.
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.