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 négociant. Our fortunes grew in step with one another, as Neal’s increased purchasing allowed Hubert to bottle more of his production, and Hubert’s masterful wines provided (and still provide) us with a standard against which all other Burgundies should be measured. Inevitably, the domaine has experienced change and upheaval through the years, but the wines are, and have always been, regal, soulful emblems of their great terroirs, combining power, elegance, and complexity as only the very greatest of Burgundies can. We are immensely proud to represent such people and such wines.
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. Gahier’s complex, soulful wines experienced immediate success, and enthusiasm has grown to the point where every bottle is sold before it even reaches our shores. Despite Puffeney’s retirement and the oft-discussed takeover of his vineyards by the Marquis d’Angerville in Volnay, Michel has since acquired a dozen or so of the century-old vin jaune barrels that used to belong to Jacques.
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 watched Jean-Marc—a fourth-generation vigneron—find his way and master his craft, and today his generous, electrifying renderings of the great terroirs of Chassagne-Montrachet sell out before they even reach us.
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—and at prices that put to rest the notion there is no value to be found in Burgundy anymore. Each visit to this estate is a master class in the unique terroir of their northern sector of the Côte de Beaune, those less-appreciated vineyards in and around Pernand-Vergelesses that flank the grand hill of Corton. The vineyards of Pernand-Vergelesses run at an “off-angle” to the main swath of east-facing, contiguous hillsides that comprise the bulk of the Côte d’Or; they are wedged into a narrow crevasse formed by the disjunction of Corton and the primary escarpment of the Côte de Beaune, and most of the key sites here face westward (or even northwestward).
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. Assisted by his close childhood friend Giulio Gambelli and a local named Bruno Bini (who was born on the property), Manetti produced his first vintage in 1971, with the humble intention of making wine to share with his family and friends. It turns out the trio had a real knack for their craft, and word swiftly spread in the area about the quality of wine Montevertine was creating from their excellently situated high-altitude vineyards.
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 organically farming their five hectares of vines in Vitorchiano, Lazio, since the early nineties, but it wasn’t until the legendary Giampiero Bea began advising them in the early 2000s that their wines gained a larger audience.
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.
Champagne used to be such a simple thing. You popped a cork, and the gushing fountain of wine cued celebratory joy.
You might have had a preference among the house styles of the big Champagne producers, or grand marques. Or maybe you simply chose a brand as your own, as if it were cigarettes or beer.
Also worth noting were the chalky, energetic Vertus Premier Cru from Guy Larmandier.
★★½ Guy Larmandier Champagne Rosé Vertus Premier Cru Brut NV $50
Tangy and energetic, with creamy, chalky citrus flavors.
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…
A Jewel of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Châteauneuf-du-Pape at its greatest and most traditional is a testament to its lofty historical reputation, channeling one of the viticultural world’s most visceral expressions of terroir. When the appellation’s sun-drenched ripeness comes across as a mere fact of being rather than as a calculated aim, and when it is not exaggerated through cellar technique, it is as natural and lovable as acidity in Alpine wine or salinity in Mediterranean wine.
Food & Drink
I cover wine at work, with attention to makers and growers.
When the holidays roll around, no one wants to seem impersonal or cheap. Entertaining, gifting, dressing, dining—everything gets a special flair this time of year and that’s the fun of it. But, let’s be honest, an element of ease is important too.
I’m of the opinion that a bottle of wine is a lovely gift for most adults, but I’m also sure that the people on your list would enjoy receiving some extra dazzle. Here are a handful of easy-to-purchase yet oh-my-goodness gifts for wine lovers.
Neal Rosenthal is one of the most respected wine importers in North America, and his offshoot, Mad Rose Specialty Foods, bears his characteristic instinct for tasty, terroir-driven products from around Europe. While the site is packed with intriguing items—a vertical of vintage-dated Italian honeys, for example—the olive oils from Provençal wine domaines caught my eye. Château Peyrassol’s 2018 olive oil ($30) from their estate groves in the Var region is the perfect gift accompaniment for 2018 Commanderie de Peyrassol Château Peyrassol Rosé ($26). It can also be purchased as an element of the Premier Olive Oil Collection ($105) which also includes a bottle each from Italian family producers the Armatos and the Beas.
‘Producing Wine With Each Other and the Creator’: A Group of Nuns on Operating Their Italian Vineyard
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 […]
2017 Yves Cuilleron Ripa Sinistra Dark purple. Ripe blackberry, licorice pastille, smoked meat and potpourri scents are complemented by a powerful mineral overtone. Youthfully chewy and broad in the mouth, offering densely packed, mineral black/blue fruit liqueur, floral pastille flavors and a strong jolt of exotic spices. Finishes with repeating mineral and dark fruits notes, […]
2017 Domaine Lionnet Cornas Terre Brulée Inky ruby. Powerful, deeply perfumed aromas of black and blue fruit preserves, licorice and olive, along with a sexy floral overtone. Coats the palate with juicy blackberry, boysenberry, violet pastille and spicecake flavors, while a smoky mineral flourish adds vibrant lift. Chewy tannins shape an impressively long, mineral-accented finish […]
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.
It has been a joy to witness the slow and careful passing of the torch from Gérard Harmand to his son Philippe at Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy over the past decade. The Harmand family has tended land in Gevrey-Chambertin since the late 19th century, and over the years they amassed nine hectares of Pinot Noir—all within the confines of Gevrey, and encompassing an impressive and varied range of parcels throughout the village. Over our nearly twenty years of partnership, we have seen gradual but marked improvements in the wines’ clarity and expressiveness, as this father-and-son team coaxes new depths from their tremendous holdings with each passing vintage.
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.
Barolo’s extraordinary geological and topographical complexity is echoed in the staggering variety of its wines—170 crus singing their paeans to Queen Nebbiolo in 170 unique dialects. As with all great winegrowing regions, however, the story of Barolo is the story of two inextricable histories: the glacial, impassive evolution of the earth itself and the feverish tumult of human endeavor which overlays it. As much as it is a story of valleys, ridges, sand, silt, and marl, then, so is Barolo a story of labor, land acquisition, political upheaval, ego, and fashion. Wine is the seam along which those two threads interweave, but—as the modernist missteps of a few years back illustrated—that seam will pucker under too heavy a human hand. Little is required for Barolo’s forceful origin-stamp to roar its pedigree, and we at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have always prized growers in this zone who understand that implicitly and enact it faithfully.
With Michel this Saturday morning. Certainly one of the great domaines in our portfolio. Drinking 1985 Trousseau Grands Vergers. NIR
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.
We have before us this evening a near perfect wine, a classic rendition of the particular terroir that is the Graves. The beauty of this wine crafted by Christian Auney is its subtle tenacity, the rigor of its structure which is truly distinguished.
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.
Our dedication to wines of terroir is best and most fundamentally expressed in a wine such as the Cornas “Terre Brulée” 2016 produced at the Domaine Lionnet. For all the excitement that swirls around the wines of the northern Rhone and various other interpretations of Syrah globally,
The story of the Conti sisters in Boca is a twofold triumph: as ultra-committed winegrowers who are reclaiming and replanting old vineyards in this difficult-to-farm zone, they are part of a larger effort to restore the Alto Piemonte to its pre-phylloxera glory and productivity; and, as visionary, trend-bucking women in a deeply conservative rural area, […]
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.
We are drinking this evening the finest wine of the year to date. An astonishing wine of breed and class from one of the finest vigneron of my career: Vincent Bitouzet’s Meursault Perrieres 1990. A white wine of almost 29 years age that is brimming with life, rich but vibrantly fresh still with a glowing […]
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.
Martino Manetti remarked during our visit last April that no two consecutive vintages at Montevertine have had remotely the same character since 2007, and perhaps no pair underlines that more forcefully than 2014 and 2015.
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.
The story throughout the south of France for the 2018 growing season was similar: an inordinate amount of rainfall from February through June engendered a rash of mildew that had growers scrambling, treating between five and ten times as much as usual in many instances. The weather pulled an immediate about-face in July, turning remarkably hot and remarkably dry—conditions which persisted until harvest. This whiplash effect stressed both vines and vignerons, to be sure, but happily the quality of the rosés from Provence is generally outstanding in 2018. The higher amount of rainfall led to rosés not burdened by unwelcome heaviness due to hyper-low yields, but the dryness of the latter part of the growing season prevented a sense of dilution in the final wines. In general, the 2018 rosés from the south of France display impeccable balance, superb drinkability, and a streak of classicism that sets them above the 2017s.
A journalist asked us to send Joseph Dorbon a question about understanding the balance of a wine aged sous-voile, and he penned a rather insightful response, which is noted below in both French and English (Translation: Dillon Lerach): Responding to your question about oxidation, I will first assume that you are only speaking about whites. […]
Our people are cranking out some very fine wines! We drank again today three wines that have been sitting in our fridge OPEN since John Paine showed them to his New Orleans clients a couple of weeks ago.
France harbors a vast multitude of talented growers, fascinating appellations, and deep veins of viticultural history. Even among this embarrassment of riches, however, the Rougier family’s Chateau Simone is a true jewel—an estate with a singular terroir, owned by the same family for many generations, with no break in tradition along the way.
The 2016 Gamay “La Mourziere” is more proof of the sensational quality being cranked out by our quartet of SWISS growers. Clean, bright, dynamic, classic Gamay scent and flavors wrapped in this delicious wine that is a perfect companion to a multitude of dishes. So light on its toes but with an athletic posture that […]
For the vigneron, aging can be a beautiful thing. Youth frequently seeks to announce its place in the world with maximum volume; age, more comfortable in its accumulated prowess, understands that a softer voice can be just as powerful.
Some folks are so amazingly productive, you’d swear they had figured out a way to clone themselves—or at least bargained to add a few hours to each of their days that the rest of us can’t access. Our old friend, the indefatigable Yves Cuilleron, is one such person. When Neal began working with the Cuilleron domaine in the early 1980s—with Yves’s uncle Antoine—there were three wines in play: a Saint-Joseph Rouge, a Saint-Joseph Blanc, and a Condrieu.
The quite spectacular “Vigne Rovettaz”, single vineyard origin, 2016 Cornalin from Grosjean.
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.
A lovely experience tonight and surprising as well. We are drinking Granger’s Beaujolais Villages “Le Fetrau” from the 2013 vintage.
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 […]
BY ANTONIO GALLONI | NOVEMBER 30, 2018 I came away from my annual fall Champagne tastings absolutely exhilarated by the quality of the wines. As it turns out, I reviewed most of the new releases from the grandes marques in our Summer Preview, so this article focuses heavily on grower Champagnes. That is merely a […]
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 […]
2015 Domaine Rollin Pere et Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru The 2015 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru has fresh and seemingly early-picked, more malic scents compared to its peers: the cooking apple and flint are, dare I say, almost Chablis-like in style! The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity. This taut, linear Corton-Charlemagne offers […]
2015 Domaine Jean-Marie Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques 1er Cru The 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques 1er Cru has a sensual bouquet that remains transparent despite concentrated aromas of raspberry, crushed strawberry and a touch of orange blossom. The palate is rounded and quite sensual, the plumpest of the five Clos St.-Jacques, and a little glossy in […]
2015 Domaine Jean Chauvenet Nuits Saint-Georges Les Perrieres 1er Cru The 2015 Nuits Saint-Georges Les Perrières 1er Cru has an impressive bouquet with ample blackberry and raspberry fruit, fine definition and beautifully integrated oak. The harmonious palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit and a pure, sustained, precise finish. This is an outstanding Nuits […]
2015 Domaine Jacques Carillon Puligny-Montrachet Les Perrières 1er Cru The 2015 Puligny-Montrachet Les Perrières 1er Cru has the most attractive nose of four tasted in this flight from this particular vineyard: well defined, with mineral notes suffusing the citrus fruit with just a hint of white peach, and neatly integrated oak. The palate is very […]
2015 Domaine Hubert Lignier Morey Saint-Denis Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru The 2015 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru has a wonderful, detailed, charming bouquet of red currant, cranberry and bergamot scents entwined with rose petals and minerals. The palate is well balanced, displaying fine definition, gentle grip and a hint of dried blood filtered through the slightly darker-than-expected […]
2015 Domaine Henri Prudhon Saint-Aubin La Chatenière 1er Cru The 2015 Saint-Aubin La Chatenière 1er Cru has a pretty bouquet of orange blossom, white peach and a little bruised apple, all nicely defined and displaying a subtle mineral edge. The well-balanced palate is sappy and saline in the mouth, offering a fine line of acidity […]
2015 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er Cru The 2015 Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er Cru shows a little stem addition on the fresh, detailed nose, which is earthier than those of its appellation peers and acquires graphite and tobacco scents with aeration. The palate is well-balanced, displaying good backbone and fine acidity, but tight […]
2015 Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru The 2015 Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru sports very slight reduction on the nose, but the terroir comes through: fine definition, scents of crushed stone and a little walnut, a subtle marine influence in the background. The palate is well defined with a crisp bead of acidity, […]
“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.
Provence – A day for 3 Chateaux ….
CHATEAU SIMONE: what a lovely estate! Each time I visit (and, remember my first visit with the Rougier family was in 1981) I remain impressed by the impeccable grounds, the perfectly maintained cellar and ultimately the consistently excellent and idiosyncratic wines.
BOIS DE BOURSAN: 2018 was a difficult vintage for Versino; harvest began 12 Sept ended 28 Sept; due to extensive mildew throughout the season, he harvested 11.5 hectoliters per hectare; this on the heels of 2017 which yielded another small crop size of 22 hl/ha.
More commentary on the visits Michael and I made to the growers between Oct 16 and Oct 23 …
DOMAINE DU GOUR DE CHAULE: Harvest in 2018 started on 13 Sept for the Rosé and then proceeded in stages of 3 to4 days as the vineyards ripened in an irregular, and different, pace …
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.
The afternoon of our second day on the road was joyous as the wines of Guillaume Gilles and Domaine Lionnet are simply magical.
GILLES: Guillaume started harvest early in 2018, the 4th of September. He reports a bountiful harvest of excellent quality. The ‘17s have brilliant potential.
CUILLERON: Our second day in the Rhône started with a tasting with Yves Cuilleron. The “Cuilleron Empire” continues to expand and requires considerable time to proceed through a tasting. In fact, 32 wines were presented, the result of which was that we were then late for the remaining appointments for that day.
Michael Kane and I just wrapped up 9 days on the road visiting our growers in the northern and southern Rhône, Provence, Languedoc – Roussillon and Bordeaux. We were the beneficiaries of beautiful Indian summer weather during the entirety of our trip, one of the few blessings from global warming.
Kerry and I revisited this wine over the weekend, opening and drinking most of the bottle yesterday with an udon-based vegetable broth; then, again, tonight to observe the wine’s evolution. It is, actually, spectacularly good, a wine loaded with character, strongly lanolin, petroleum-laced, amidst the background menthol-pine aromatics and flavors.
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 […]
As broad and rich as Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s coverage of viticultural France is, there is one classic appellation whose absence in the portfolio we lamented for well over a decade: Chinon. Nestled along the Loire River’s left bank (to the south of the river itself) as it flows westward through the region of Touraine, Chinon […]
A VITICULTURAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Piedmont, revered for the grandiose wines produced from the Nebbiolo grape, is home as well to an exceptional white variety, ERBALUCE, that is little known and barely appreciated. The Erbaluce finds its home high up in the Canavese district, the lake country in the Alpine foothills north of Torino that […]
A new round of releases from the legendary Montevertine estate, high in the hills above Radda-in-Chianti, is always a cause for celebration. Montevertine as we know it today began in 1967, when Milanese steel magnate Sergio Manetti acquired the property as a summer home. Within a few years, and with the help of a beloved […]
For those enraptured by terroir, perhaps no region in France holds a greater capacity for wonderment than Alsace. Not even Burgundy, with its immensely intricate patchwork of subtly varying Jurassic limestone, can approach Alsace’s geological complexity. We consumers often think of Alsace first and foremost in terms of grape variety; after all, nearly all of […]
The 2016 vintage at the Domaine Fourrier presents in a classic manner with precision and grace. However, it is another in the recent spate of scarce harvests that makes this offer a challenge to place in front of those who have patronized the wines of this estate since the first vintage (1994) we imported so […]
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 […]
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 […]
BY IAN D’AGATA | MAY 17, 2018 | No other region in Italy offers as large a selection of outstanding white wines from so many different grape varieties as Friuli Venezia Giulia does, while the region’s native red grapes yield wines that are equally distinctive. Make no mistake about it: Friuli Venezia Giulia is 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, […]
2016 Frost: If you can’t imagine what a smaller Carillon allocation might look like, you are about to find out. Production was down about 50% from normal levels. No Chassagne Village was produced.
2016 Bourgogne Blanc “Hauts des Champs”: because of frost damage in “Les Grands Champs”, Pillot used a nearby surviving parcel to make his Bourgogne Blanc. The location and character of this wine is very similar to our normal cuvee. 2016 Frost Loss: Jean-Marc lost about 70% of his chardonnay from the spring frost. Fortunately for […]
2016: Because of the limited production of Meursault, he blended “Clos du Cromin” and “Corbins” to make one cuvee. Rougly 60% Cromin and 40% Corbins. This one time cuvee will be named “Climats de Glace”.
2016 Bourgogne Blanc: Because of frost damage to this white grape parcel, Cornu combined all his surviving Chardonnay from Chorey, Ladoix, and Meursault and made 8 barrels (usually, he would have had 30 barrels of his three different whites) of Bourgogne Blanc. 2016 Savigny Rouge: not made because of frost damage. 2016 Ladoix “La Corvee”: […]
2016 Frost: Rollin joins Barthod as perhaps the worst affected by the spring frost. Production is down about 70%. They made no Aligotè and no “Ile des Vergelesses” (first time they haven’t produced this wine since they purchased the parcel in 1932). Also, they were permitted to purchase grapes for the Hautes Cotes de Beaune […]
2016 Frost: Among the hardest hit with frost among our vigneron in Burgundy, Ghislaine experienced the smallest harvest of career in 2016. Yields are down roughly 70% for the year, and she failed to produce “Combottes” and “Chatelots”. Prepare your clients who are lucky enough to receive allocations of the ’15 that there is going […]
Marsannay Rouge 2016: this wine was not made in 2016 due to the frost. The small number of grapes he was able to harvest were added to the Bourgogne Rouge. Marsannay Blanc 2016: did not make Marsannay Blanc due to frost damage. Aligotè: 2016: this wine failed to finish its fermentation and is still carrying […]
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 […]
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 […]
Wineaux By Susana Leonardi My high school biology teacher, Sister Mary Justine (or maybe it was Sister Mary Martine — I confuse them) made the class spell aloud, in unison, the name of our current unit: S-E-X. I have no idea why shouting the letters was somehow more acceptable than her just saying the […]
We began our partnership with the inimitable Chateau Le Puy only about a year and a half ago, but our aesthetic and philosophical alignment makes it feel like it has been decades. And, given the voraciousness and enthusiasm with which our clientele has embraced the estate’s wines, the market was more than ready for Bordeaux […]
A New Face of Dolcetto Dolcetto is regularly treated as a second-class citizen in the high-dollar, high-prestige district of Barolo, with growers relegating it to unfavorably exposed parts of their holdings and producing it in a quick, straightforward fashion. Barolo is Nebbiolo country, plain and simple, and while one can hardly fault its producers for […]
For Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s longtime clients, the wines of Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea likely need no introduction. Since the mid-1980s, the bold, unpolished, yet intellectually stimulating and singular wines from this beautiful family farm in Montefalco, Umbria, have delighted and challenged a steadily growing fan base in the United States. Now, each new series of […]
By Eric Asimov March 1, 2018 Back in the early days of Wine School, we focused on Chianti Classico, the signature red of Tuscany. Now we head to a different part of Tuscany to drink Rosso di Montalcino. Rosso di Montalcino is the younger sibling of Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello must be aged for at […]
excerpt from: THE POUR By Eric Asimov Feb. 26, 2018 POMEROL, France — The word Bordeaux connotes magnificent chateaus, aristocratic (or at least wealthy or corporate) landowners and wines that occasionally live up to their pretensions. But in the vine-covered countryside surrounding this sleepy village, where the tiniest undulation of the land constitutes a hill, […]
LOIRE VALLEY …. LOIRE VALLEY Although the Loire Valley’s wine regions experienced a few episodes of frost during the 2017 growing season—a calamity that seems to becoming de rigueur in these post-climate-change pseudo-winters and early flowerings—they were thankfully spared many of the stressors that plagued the deep south. None of our five rosé-producing growers throughout the region […]
LANGUEDOC AND CORBIERES …. LANGUEDOCA huge variety of terroirs exist within the Languedoc’s vastness, and one particularly great one is having its moment: the Terrasses du Larzac, a zone just north of Montpellier and inland from the Mediterranean. The number of wine-producing domaines there has ballooned from 30 to 110 over the past decade, as […]
A QUARTET FROM THE SOUTHERN RHONE …. In the ever-thirsty global rose marketplace, it is Provence that is held up as the gold (or, shall we say, pale salmon) standard—for color, for texture, for flavor profile, and for ease of use. There are many consumers who look askance at any rose that isn’t ultra-pale and […]
FEBRUARY 7, 2018 story: JON BONNÉ Meet the winemakers leading the revolution in dry, mineral-driven wines in the Roussillon. When anyone thought about the southern French region of Roussillon, it was as the latter half of the awkward geographic mashup “Languedoc-Roussillon,” which was mostly known for stylish, ripe wines. A few informed souls might have […]
ON THE ROAD WITH JEREMY, NEIL AND CLARKE VISITING THE GROWERS AND REPORTING FROM THE FIELD PROVENCE AND THE LUBERON As was the case throughout the south of France, the defining characteristic of the 2017 growing season in Provence was the profound drought. Our growers in the Cotes de Provence, Bandol, Cassis, and the Cotes […]
WINES OF THE TIMES By Eric Asimov Feb. 8, 2018 Oakiness was not an issue in the bottles we liked best. Our top wine, from De Forville, was a classic Barbaresco of the old school, with beautiful floral and anise flavors and an earthy minerality. It was a complete wine and, though accessible now, will […]
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. Since our first vintage together nearly twenty years ago, we have watched Jean-Marc—a fourth generation vigneron—find his way and become a true master of his craft, and today his […]
By Eric Asimov Feb. 1, 2018 For our next topic, let’s return to what may now be familiar ground, Bordeaux. Previously, we’ve looked at two very different appellations within Bordeaux, Haut-Médoc and Pomerol. This time, the topic will be defined by value rather than place. The dominant image of Bordeaux is one of imposing chateaus, […]
BY STEPHEN TANZER | JANUARY 25, 2018 Despite extreme weather conditions in both 2016 and 2015, Burgundy’s Côte d’Or has produced an outstanding pair of back-to-back vintages studded with hauntingly beautiful reds. Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur || Domaine Georges Lignier || Domaine Ghislaine Barthod || Domaine Fourrier/Jean-Marie Fourrier Ten years from now, when their painful memories of […]
Twenty years ago, no one could have predicted the Jura’s current popularity. Twenty years or so ago, when we first crossed the threshold of Jacques Puffeney’s cellar door, there was nary a true Jura wine present in the US market. The oxidative whites and perplexing reds produced from the unheard of Trousseau and Poulsard varieties […]
A New Face in Sancerre Our market here in the United States seems to possess an unquenchable thirst for Sancerre. A clean, fresh wine with plenty of character; a lovely and easy-to-pronounce name; a grape variety everybody knows; what’s not to like? Unfortunately, much like Provençal rosé, the lion’s share of Sancerre is produced from […]
Proof it’s possible to find charming expressions of the region’s native grapes, without undue manipulation and around $30. JANUARY 17, 2018 story: Jon Bonné photo: Lizzie Munro. Bordeaux may be big business, but this most influential of wine regions exists far outside today’s currents. At times, with its baked-in sense of superiority, it can come […]
“Great producers make great wines even in tough vintages”: it’s almost a cliché at this point, but few prove that as forcefully as the legendary Montevertine estate in Radda-in-Chianti. 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 […]
One must search ever harder in the great viticultural regions of France these days to find examples of long and unbroken tradition. Market pressures and the conveniences of technology have lured so many growers, even in hallowed areas, to sculpt their wines more obsessively, to shorten their aging regimens, and to soften them up for […]
With its dazzling geological diversity, its ideal latitudinal situation, and its long, proud winegrowing history, France is an embarrassment of vinous riches. It is no accident that it was the French themselves who coined the term terroir—the magical union of soil, climate, grape variety, and knowing human touch which produces that elusive but undeniable sense […]
For the vigneron, even great vintages carry with them potential pitfalls. The 2015 growing season in Burgundy was a relative breeze, with even ripening, ample sunshine, little disease pressure, and stellar conditions at harvest time. As with other “solar” vintages like 2005 and 2009, the temptation to really lean into such healthy, beautiful fruit in […]
Amidst the lush, verdant, rolling hills of the Jura, surrounded by plentiful cattle, occasional vineyards, and little else, one can still profoundly feel the ancient agrarian heartbeat of old France. Here, unlike almost anywhere else in the Old World, persists a robust winemaking tradition of careful, intuitive vineyard management, confidently unobtrusive cellar work, and a […]
Around January 8th, we will receive a monumental set of wines from the tireless Yves Cuilleron, encompassing his red wines from the majestic 2015 vintage and his appellation white wines from 2016. These represent the 30th vintage we have been working with Yves, and we have witnessed with amazement his development and expansion since his […]
New Releases: 2016 “Coenobium” and “Ruscum” It’s hard to believe that we are about to receive our twelfth vintage from the sisters of Monastero Suore Cistercensi. Led by Adriana and Fabiola (pictured left), these nuns have been organically farming their five hectares of vines in Vitorchiano (an hour or so north of Rome) in the […]
The Gravner operation is serene, simple, spotless, and small. The tour of the facility is quick, and each space is intelligently designed and spared of clutter or unnecessary objects. There is a holistic feeling throughout the endeavor. Josko was very cheerful and talkative (Mateja is traveling). The wines are as Neal described, and are totally […]
Raise a glass for holiday wines. By Andrea Clurfeld | | November 27, 2017 It’s the time of year when almost everyone’s thoughts turn to gift giving. Yes, ’tis the season to be giving. There’s hardly a situation when giving a gift is wrong. The rub, it seems, is what to give. I’m going to […]
Arriving December 16th Giampiero Bea, one of our dearest friends and collaborators, has an uncanny knack for finding and cultivating talent. As co-founder and president of ViniVeri—a well-respected consortium of winegrowers dedicated to producing wine as naturally as possible—he has introduced us to numerous growers whose ethos and aesthetics align with our own (Giovanna Morganti […]
By Eric AsimovNov. 16, 2017 Thanksgiving is just about here. Preparations are well underway, everything seems to be in order, except … we forgot about the wine. This is not a drill. Whether Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other outsized entertainment situation, it is entirely possible that crucial but peripheral elements to the feast are […]
A REPORT FROM THE ROVELLOTTI FAMILY IN GHEMME I received a note yesterday from my good friend, Antonello Rovellotti, who was brimming with good cheer because of the healthy state of his vineyards in Baragiola, recognized as the top “cru” in Ghemme. He recounted that back when he was a young boy (and he is […]
Our first encounter with Mikael Boutin occurred last February in the tiny and charming village of Rasteau. Mikael, who was directed to us through an acquaintance from New Orleans, solicited us out of the blue, via email. Intrigued by the details of his small domaine and excited at the prospect of adding this appellation to […]
Power, Precision, and Purity Nuits-Saint-Georges is rarely the first village mentioned when Burgundy enthusiasts begin to wax rhapsodic about their favorite appellations. With their assertive, articulate nature, their ability to deliver visceral mineral intensity, and their sometimes tough and savory flavors, they possess neither the seductive lusciousness of Chambolle-Musigny nor the warm earthiness of Gevrey-Chambertin—and […]
From Chablis Gets the Côte de Beaune Treatment from Mother Nature (Jul 2016) by Stephen Tanzer Caves Jean et Sébastien Dauvissat Despite the hailstorm and significant rainfall in the early morning hours of September 1, the grapes were very healthy and ripe in 2015–12% potential alcohol for the village wines and 12.2% to 12.5% for […]
From 2016 & 2015 White Burgundy (Sep 2017) by Stephen Tanzer Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Jean-Marc Pillot told me that based on the frost in 2016 and the date of the flowering he should have picked on October 3, but in the end he started on September 22 owing to the sustained hot weather from mid-July […]
From 2016 & 2015 White Burgundy (Sep 2017) by Stephen Tanzer Domaine Jacques Carillon Carillon’s 2016s were barely starting their secondary fermentations at the beginning of June and thus were untasteable at the time of my visit. Carillon told me he was surprised by their natural acidity levels considering the lateness of the harvest. “The […]
Eric Asimov THE POUR Sept. 21, 2017 The requirements for weeknight cooking are easy to understand, but weeknight wine? It’s a bit more conceptual. The last thing anyone wants after a long day of work is to put in another few hours over a cutting board and stove. But where is the labor in opening […]
2015 Domaine du Gour de Chaulé Gigondas Cuvée Tradition Brilliant ruby. A heady bouquet evokes ripe red and blue fruits, Indian spices and smoky minerals, along with a hint of candied lavender in the background. Deeply concentrated yet energetic black raspberry, boysenberry and spicecake flavors unfold slowly, picking up a licorice quality that expands on […]
In the year we’ve been working with Chateau Le Puy, this singular and idiosyncratic Right Bank estate has made a multitude of fans—and even changed the way many people think about what Bordeaux can be. In a region known for its conservatism, where a fixation on polish, extraction, and control often straitjackets its wines, Bordeaux […]
Each summer, as we approach Labor Day and make final preparations for the autumn shipments, one early-October arrival is always circled as perhaps the highlight of the season from our Italian growers: the single annual release of the majestic cru Barolos from Brovia. The 2013 vintage hardly needs an introduction, as it has already been […]
2015 Pian del Ciampolo and 2014 Montevertine “Montevertine” Few releases garner as much interest and excitement as those from Montevertine. Ever since we announced our partnership in 2006, Martino Manetti’s wines have been touchstones of the RWM portfolio. Fittingly, the duo of wines arriving this September—the 2014 Montevertine “Montevertine” and the 2015 Montevertine “Pian del […]
In the decade since we first encountered Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois, Chantal and Eric Coudert’s classically styled Beaujolais have filled an important niche in the Rosenthal Wine Merchant portfolio. Humble yet exuberant folks, Chantal and Eric provide us with sensational cru Beaujolais that stand proudly among the best wines in the region. While […]
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 limits of Gevrey, […]
With its inherent richness and density, the 2015 vintage posed a challenge to the Burgundian vigneron: how to make wines of balance and elegance that harness the power of the vintage without succumbing to it. At Domaine Jacques Carillon, one senses the touch of a true master operating at the peak of his powers. In […]
It is with much anticipation that we await the release of the 2015 vintage from Domaine Fourrier toward the middle of August. Our tastings of the 2015s with Jean-Marie Fourrier last September (out of barrel) and this past March (just after bottling) revealed another impressive vintage from one of our most exciting and reliable growers. […]
An ideal time to become familiar with our exceptional growers We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have championed great and distinctive sparkling wines for the entirety of our near-forty-year existence. Since 1981, we have imported the elegant, classical Champagnes of Guy Larmandier in Vertus—long before there was even a “grower Champagne” movement to speak of. We […]
Robert Camuto: Letter From Europe Wine Spectator July 24, 2017 Calabria Rocks Can Cirò be Italy’s next big thing? A new generation is on the move. Cirò is the kind of wine place I want to root for. This ancient Calabrian wine region in sun-baked southern Italy offers a gorgeous countryside of ancient olive trees […]
We received a note from Laurent Lignier today, detailing the extent of the damage from a severe hailstorm last week. Both Morey and Gevrey were hit, with particular severity in Clos de la Roche, Charmes Chambertin and Gevrey 1er Cru “Aux Combottes”. The premier crus of Chaffots, Riotte and the Vieilles Vignes holdings were also […]
Just in time to mark the beginning of July, we are all set to receive an impressive group of wines from the cool mountains of France. Specifically, we expect new arrivals from Joseph Dorbon and Mickael Crinquand in the Jura and Louis and Béatrice Magnin in the Savoie. It is no secret that we at […]
It was clear with the 2014s we brought in toward the end of last year that brothers Franck and Frédérick Buisson had truly hit their stride. Having gradually assumed control of the family vineyards and cellar over the past decade, these young men—the eighth generation of Buisson in Saint-Romain—have sharpened and refined the impeccable vineyard […]
BY JOSH RAYNOLDS | JUNE 27, 2017 Among the oldest of many wine cliché’s is that Rosés don’t age well and, like seersucker suits, are out of style after the Labor Day following the vintage. While wearing summer suits out of season might not be in good taste, drinking the best pink wines year-round is […]
Eric Asimov THE POUR JUNE 22, 2017 If for no other reason than popular demand, summer is rosé season. These wines, once pitilessly disparaged as dull and anemic, have been hotter than July for a decade, a climactic shift that shows no signs of letting up. In the past few months, three books on rosé […]
Etienne Becheras * Domaine Lionnet * Bernard Levet Guillaume Gilles * Xavier Gerard By: Neal Rosenthal & Neil Rosen We will soon receive our most significant shipments of the year from our producers in the Northern Rhône. Recently, we have made substantial additions to our Northern Rhône portfolio; thus, this annual offer has grown to […]
Eric Asimov THE POUR JUNE 16, 2017 ST.-CIBARD, France — The French have a notion that has no real counterpart in English for discussing a delicious wine. It is digestibilité, digestibility in English, a single word that, like terroir, connotes something far more complex. Digestibilité begins with deliciousness, but it also indicates wines that are […]
Whenever we think about the idea of terroir, we think of Carema. The word terroir is frequently used casually when talking about wine. Often a wine is labeled “terroir-driven” if it is viewed as a quality wine that has balance and a pure, unbroken expression of its agricultural beginnings. When asked to give a definition, […]
2013 “Emilien” and the debut of Duc des Nauves The very existence of Chateau Le Puy almost defies belief. In, of all places, Bordeaux—a region that fell especially hard for the oak-and-muscles approach favored by certain critics and point-chasers over the past few decades—there exists a sizable and historic estate that has never made even […]
Benjamin Zidarich and Paolo Vodopivec Terroir, of course, is more than the soil beneath our feet. It is the air around us, and the sky above us. It is the people who work the land, and the cellars in which the wines come to life. It is the distinct soul of a distinct place—a spirit, […]
I don’t know if you saw the news—I only saw it reported in Italian outlets—but the Obamas were in Italy last weekend and participated in a wine tasting and dinner where they drank the 2008 Gravner Ribolla Gialla. There was a neat quote about the wine in Corriere della Sera: “Perché questi vini italiani mi […]
Working in his dark and simple cellar on a side street in the sleepy village of Prémeaux-Prissey, Jérôme is a rare sight today in the Côte de Nuits. The overwhelming interest in the Côte de Nuits (and its subsequent pricing) that we have seen in recent years has changed the landscape of this esteemed sector […]
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 and more enviable range of great vineyard holdings in Chambolle-Musigny, and Barthod’s lofty status in the current pantheon of great Burgundy estates is firmly established and beyond well-deserved. As the […]