As you might remember, a few months ago we shared with you a collection of wines from the excellent selection of importer Kermit Lynch. For this month’s wine club, we’ve turned our attention to fellow importer and industry legend, Neal Rosenthal. Rosenthal, a lawyer by trade began his career in the wine business in the Fall of 1977 when he left his practice and with his wife and partner at his side and decided to purchase his parents liquor store on the Upper East side of Manhattan. Armed with a little more than a rudimentary understanding of the wine world and a very real need to pay the bills the Rosenthal’s grew their humble retail bottle shop into one of the premier import companies in the nation. Rosenthal put in the time traveling, tasting and building relationships to develop a sense of the unique and special. The selections at their core are driven by the importance of terroir and that is why he will proudly showcase several wines from the same appellations. For this wine club we are sharing with you three French wines. Each with a rich history and connection to their place. As with the wines from Kermit Lynch, Rosenthal’s’ imports are made with minimal intervention in the vineyard and the winery. Much like Kermit Lynch, if you’re interested in learning more and traveling through reading, he has a great book entitled “Reflections of a Wine Merchant, On a Lifetime in the Vineyards and Cellars of France and Italy.”
P. & E. Mullins
2018 Domaine Les Trois Toits Muscadet
Muscadet is a white wine made with Melon de Bourgogne grapes from the Loire Valley in France and it is named for the area the wine is grown. The area is in the most westerly region of the Loire, on the Atlantic coast of Brittany, which is also known for its oysters and fresh seafood, hence this wine makes the perfect pairing. Les Trois Toits translates to the three roofs. The Domaine was built on the old foundation of an ancient abbey established there in the 17th century. The cave is built entirely of stone and its roof is marked by three peaks – thus its name. Wine maker Rousseau says their Domaine has been blessed with exceptional terroir and to best respect nature and biodiversity, they will work the vines and make the wine as sustainably as possible. He does embrace “lutte raisonnée” which is if he needed to interfere with science to protect the vines, he would. This wine is made “sur lie” which means it is kept in contact with the dead yeast cells (the skin of the grapes etc.) In the glass this wine is almost crystal clear. Although you can see the body it holds when you swirl your glass. On the nose there are delicate notes of white flowers and citrus. Its essence is fresh and airy. On the palate, it is bone-dry and light-bodied with minerally, citrusy notes and high acidity.
2018 Bitouzet-Prieur “Grange le Duc” Passetoutgrains
Cote de Beaune Volnay Burgundy, France
On one of Rosenthal’s first trips to Burgundy he visited Bitouzet-Prieur and ever since, whenever this Passetoutgrain is available, it is imported. This is made from 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Gamay and from vineyards that date back to 1953 and 1974. The Bitouzet family has been making wine in Volnay since 1804. Their vineyards are tended with organic practice, organic compost is used, no herbicides or pesticides and the use of sulfates is very limited. Harvest is done manually. Only indigenous yeasts are used. Bitouzet’s wines are particularly age worthy. In the glass there are hues of violets among the ruby garnet. The nose is assuredly Burgundian with bright cherries and earth and a little herbaceous hint. It is light and lean on the palate with tangy fruit and a nice balancing finish of fine tannin. A great pairing to a hearty dish.
2017 Chateau Soucherie Anjou Rouge
Loire Valley, France
A place we dream to go to someday, Chateau Soucherie is said to be one of the most physically beautiful properties of all the Rosenthal imports. The house itself sits on an overlook above the vineyards that snake down to the Layon River. When Rosenthal first visited in 1982 it made a lasting impression. It was cold and damp and everything intensely green. The proprietor Monsieur Tijou welcomed him with warmth and good cheer and they began a lasting friendship. Tijou’s Domaine is divided into single vineyards that are managed organically. The harvest is done manually and the fermentation spontaneous. This wine is made of 90% Cabernet Franc, a classic varietal from the Loire that offers dark berry notes and graphite and 10% Grolleau a higher acid red varietal often used for blending. This blend results in a timeless old-world style wine that is a beautiful food pairing wine as it gives balance and warmth but is also lively. In the glass this wine is a deep dark red tone. The nose has fruity red notes. The palate is bright and retains a strong minerality to its finish that is elegant and seamless. Rosenthal is allocated 5000 bottles to import annually.