Rosenthal Wine Merchant is the ultimate resource for French and Italian wine, fusing expertly curated wines from two of the world’s most famous wine producing countries, with wine immersion through events, travel opportunities and learning experiences. Located on New York City’s Upper East Side. Rosenthal Wine Merchant belongs to a parent company, Madrose, which specializes in importing and curating fine wines. Their store on Lexington Avenue is a destination within itself that brings French and Italian heritage through winemaking to discerning customers and collectors around the city, state and country.
Neal Rosenthal is a celebrated wine expert and heads the operation with a team of people who know more about wine than probably the wine makers themselves. Customers are invited-in to experience wine through tastings and events, and curated journeys – Madrose Journeys – which Neal designs and leads himself with an intimate group of enthusiasts.
Lovers of wine and collectors alike can shop side by side at Rosenthal Wine Merchant and choose a bottle, or several, with the help of the specialists that work there. You will never leave feeling confused or uneducated, as time is paid in making sure customers know exactly what they’re buying, and how their particular tastes translates into that perfect vintage from that perfect destination.
Rosenthal’s Madrose Journeys help bring customers who have a love of learning and experiencing the best in wine and wine making to hard-to-access places in France, Italy and Switzerland. By traveling with Neal, you might experience a tiny family-run vineyard in Italy’s Valle d’ Aosta, Alto Piemonte or France’s Burgundy region. In fact, Neal was recently indicted as an honorary citizen of Carema, the origin of one of the most important wines of Ferrando and one of the first growers imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant. He has begun purchasing vineyards in the area is rehabilitating them – preserving an important part of wine making history.
We worked with Rosenthal Wine Merchant to choose eight prestigious and interesting wines that best represent their offerings and work over the years. We tasted them, all unique and fantastic, and truly remarkable selections that would delight any lover of special reds and whites.
Ermes Pavese Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle 2016 from Valle d’ Aosta
About The Domaine: Ermes Pavese is a youthful grower in the commune of La Ruine just outside of the town of Morgex in the high Alps minutes from the summit of Mont Blanc. Pavese works the native grape known as Prié Blanc. Starting with barely two hectares of vineyards, situated at about 1200 meters above sea level, Pavese has gradually expanded his holdings in this high altitude zone. He now produces three versions of Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. Because these vineyards are so isolated, Pavese has been able to work with the original, pre-phylloxera root stock since that malady never infiltrated this area when it came sweeping through Europe many years ago.
The Wine: A stunning wine from the highest vineyard site in Europe, with annual production of about 12,000 bottles of this austere, racy, mineral white wine with vivacity and length.
Grosjean Frères Petit Arvine 2016 from Valle d’ Aosta
About The Domaine: The Grosjean family traces its roots back to the village of Fornet in the high mountain passes of the Valle d’Aosta known as Valgrisenche where they raised cattle. During the summer months, the family cultivated grapes and chestnuts on the slopes at lower altitude, stocking up on wine to supply themselves over the long winters. In 1969, Dauphin Grosjean, the father of the five sons that now collaborate to produce the wines of this estate, was encouraged to present his wine at the local “wine expo”. The exceptional quality of his work was recognized and the entire family became engaged in the expansion of the vineyards and in the production of wine.
The estate has now grown to encompass seven hectares of vineyards. The domaine is located in the hamlet of Ollignan on the border of the towns of Quart and Saint Christophe and includes “cru” vineyard sites such as Tzeriat, Rovettaz, Creton and Touren in Quart, plus Tzantè de Bagnere, Merletta and Castello di Pleod in Saint Christophe. After starting out with the traditional Petit Rouge along with some Gamay, Pinot Noir and Petite Arvine, the Grosjeans have planted other local varietals such as Fumin, Cornalin, Premetta and Vuillermin. Sustainable farming techniques have been in place since 1975: only organic fertilizers are applied and no pesticides or herbicides are used. Natural yeasts are utilized for fermentation.
The Wine: Made from 100% Petite Arvine grapes planted in the Rovettaz vineyard at 700 meters altitude. The wine undergoes a long fermentation on the lees with repeated “batonage” for the first month after fermentation. Bright and fragrant with notes of citrus and fennel, this wine has a solid structure that allows it to be enjoyed young or with substantial bottle age. Biodynamic Certified
Gravner Ribola Gialla 2009 from Friuli
About The Domaine: The vineyards of the domaine curl over the hills passing seamlessly across the border of Italy into the slopes of Slovenia. Meticulously maintained, the rows of grapevines settle into terraces that are dotted throughout with trees and bodies of water designed to attract wildlife and assure biodiversity. Gravner is steadily replanting to assure the primacy of the autochthonous grape varieties of Ribolla and Pignolo. After determining that stainless steel was not a proper marriage for his wines in the 1990s, Josko Gravner decided to follow the ancient wine-producing techniques used in the Caucasus and has began fermenting his wines in huge amphorae buried in the ground in his cellars in 2001, with a full conversion for all wines as of 2004. The whites, which make up about 85% of the estate’s production, spend about 10 months total in amphorae, with the reds a shorter 1 to 2 months. He insists on aging his wines in large barrels for many years so release dates for most wines are from 7 to 10 years and more from the date of harvest.
The Wine: Exclusively composed of the local Ribolla grape; fermented in Georgian amphorae buried underground; long maceration with wild yeasts and no temperature control; after fermentation, the wine rests again in amphorae for five more months and then is aged in large oak barrels for an additional six years; bottled without fining or filtering.
Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso dei Pomi 2012 from Alto Piemonte
About The Domaine: The Rovellotti family traces its roots in Ghemme to the latter stages of the 15th century. As Antonello Rovellotti proclaimed: “the Rovellotti name is truly ‘Ghemmese’”. Of the less than 200 people in the world who carry that family name, 66 live in and around Ghemme and the rest can be found in other parts of Italy, in France and in Argentina. Ghemme itself is a town of ancient tradition. At its center is the “Ricetto” a walled compound that served as a refuge for people of the area during times of strife and war. This citadel of 12000 square meters was first mentioned in documents dating to the 10th century. Eventually, this brick-built structure evolved into a communal storehouse for the agricultural products native to the area with most of the surface being dedicated to wine. It is there that much of the work of producing the Rovellotti wines takes place … an historic cantina for the ultimate classical wines of Ghemme.
The family vineyard holdings, encompassing fifteen hectares, are found in the Baraggiola zone of Ghemme, the southernmost sector of the appellation. Baraggiola is further divided into four separate vineyard sites: Barragiola Valle d’Enrico where the Erbaluce for the family Passito is planted; the Baraggiola Valplazza planted almost exclusively to the Nebbiolo used in the Colline Novarese bottling; the sector known as “Chioso dei Pomi” in the center of Baraggiola, recognized as a prime site as early as 1600, in which the Nebbiolo used for the Ghemme is grown; and, finally, the “Costa del Salmino”, also recognized early in the history of Ghemme as a site of exceptional potential, is the home of the oldest Nebbiolo vines, replanted by Antonello and Paolo in 1976, which are used to produce the Ghemme Riserva along with Vespolina planted in the same special sector.
Starting in the 1980s, the vineyards have been maintained according to a special regimen applied in coordination with the agricultural faculty at the University of Milan with the express purpose of achieving zero use of chemicals in order to re-establish the natural balance of environmental and ecological elements. The majority of the vineyards are planted to Nebbiolo and are supplemented by plantings of Vespolina (also used as a complementary grape in the Ghemme), Bonarda (also known as Uva Rara) and the white grape, Erbaluce (frequently referred to in the Alto Piemonte as Greco Bianco).
The Wine: The grapes for this cuvée are sourced from the “Chioso dei Pomi” vineyard in the heart of Barragiola. The plot is approximately three hectares in size and the vines have a south-southwest exposure. The ultimate blend of grapes for the Ghemme is 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina. The Vespolina is harvested normally at the end of September while the Nebbiolo is picked after the first 10 days of October. Harvest is by hand. The grapes are fermented separately in stainless steel cuves and the fermentation extends for a minimum of ten days with frequent “remontage”. The malolactic fermentation occurs mostly in barrel. The wine is aged in large barrels of Slavonian oak for the first twelve months after harvest and then is racked into smaller five hectoliter barrels for an additional eighteen months. The various parts of the wine are assembled and blended together in the spring of the third year. After bottling, the wine is aged in bottle at least nine additional months before release.
Brovia Barolo Unio 2014 from Piemonte
About The Domaine: In 1863 Giacinto Brovia founded the Brovia estate in the village of Castiglione Falletto, in the heart of the Barolo district. The family has been continually engaged in the growing of grapes and the production of wine since that time. The phylloxera plague, economic upheaval and two wars interrupted production for almost 30 years but, in 1953, two brothers, Giacinto and Raffaele, grandchildren of the founder, resumed full-scale wine production. Giacinto, a trained enologist, was (and still is) responsible for the production of the wine while Raffaele, a trained agronomist, supervised the vineyard work. Sadly, Raffaele passed away in 2011 but two of Giacinto’s daughters, Cristina and Elena, are now completely engaged as the fourth generation, in the affairs of this family-run estate. Marina, Giacinto’s wife and mother of their children, is a brilliant cook and provider of wise counsel, and Alex Sanchez, husband of Elena, has joined the family enterprise. For our part, Rosenthal Wine Merchant has worked in close collaboration with the Brovia family for several decades, having made our first purchases in the exceptional 1978 vintage.
The Brovias, from generation to generation, have been conscientious buyers of some of the finest vineyard sites in this noble zone, concentrating their efforts in their home village of Castiglione Falletto and the neighboring Serralunga d’Alba. Brovia owns land in a variety of the best “cru” of Piedmont such as Rocche, Villero and Garblét Sue, all in Castiglione Falletto, as well as Brea in Serralunga. These different vineyard plots represent a range of soil types, from heavier clay to friable limestone. The Brovias are extremely conscientious winegrowers and farm organically in every sense of that word (without being formally certified). They perform soil analyses every two years to ensure that the elements are in equilibrium; pruning is done to limit harvest levels; and grape clusters are thinned, when necessary, in the summer. Harvest is done entirely by hand and usually begins in late September with the Dolcetto, Arneis and Barbera; of course, the Nebbiolo ripens later, and harvest for the various Baroli occurs normally in mid-October.
The Brovia wines are vinified in the classic style. Grapes are lightly crushed before going into the fermentation tanks. The length of the fermentation period depends on the grape variety but the Nebbiolo for various Barolo cuvées can extend as long as a month or more at temperatures between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius. The Baroli are aged for at least two years in 30 hectoliter barrels of Slavonian and French oak. The wines are then bottled without filtration and released to the market after an additional 18 to 24 months of bottle-aging. The cuvées of Dolcetto and Barbera are handled differently, with the Dolcetto being aged exclusively in stainless steel tanks and the Barbera in stainless with a portion of the Serralunga-based wine in smaller barrels (more detail is provided below)., with a portion going into French oak barrels for 9 – 10 months. The wines are bottled without filtration.
The Wine: Evaluating the 2014 Barolo “Unio” blind, one would be hard-pressed to declare it from anything less than a stellar vintage. Brovia’s late-round strategy of assembling one great wine paid off enormously, and the end result is not just good—it is shockingly gorgeous. The nose soars, laden with the beautiful, complex, almost philosophical spice of great Nebbiolo, and anchored by dark, savory fruits. “Unio” is a densely-boned fighter whose musculature makes up in definition what it lacks in size. The vintage’s lightness is felt not in any sense of dilution but in a sense of mesmerizing clarity—the kind of clear-eyed freshness that the heft of riper vintages sometimes masks. In the absence of excess flesh, the wine’s profound minerality is positively arresting, reading as chiseled and foundational rather than as an undertone or a grace note. Furthermore, the family’s remarkable feel for well-judged extraction is on full display here, as the tannins are as perfect as could be imagined—neither coerced past their natural potential nor buffed into insignificance. They are downright sexy tannins, in fact—the lower-lip bite at the end of a kiss that manages to be both tender and suggestive.
La Torre Brunello di Montalcino 2014 from Tuscany
About The Domaine: The Anania family originally comes from Calabria in the south of Italy where they farmed for many years producing a fine “bufala mozzarella” among other agricultural products. Giuseppe Anania, the father of Luigi Anania, the present owner and producer of the wines of La Torre, purchased the La Torre property in 1976. The estate is located in the commune of La Sesta, approximately 8 kilometers south of Montalcino in the highest altitude section of the Brunello appellation, quite near to the lovely village of San Angelo in Colle. The first vintage at La Torre was the fabled 1982 which set a fine precedent for the future work.
The estate comprises 36 hectares of which 5.6 hectares are devoted to the vine. The vineyards are planted almost entirely to the Sangiovese Grosso grape and have a full southern and southwestern exposure. Small parcels of Ciliegiolo and Alicante complete the mix of grape varieties. Wines from three appellations are produced: Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, and Rosso di Toscano and Rosso di Toscano “Ampelio”.
The vineyards, at approximately 1500 feet above sea level, are divided into four squares and are harvested, by hand, separately in late September through early October under normal conditions. All grapes are destemmed prior to fermentation. Only indigineous yeasts are used. All wines at the estate are bottled by gravity and are not filtered.
The Wine: This wine is fermented in stainless steel for three weeks. It is then racked into large barrels (“botte” made by Gargalotto and of Slavonian origin) and left to age in cask for forty-two months. A small part of the wine (approximately 17%) destined for Brunello status spends 12 months in small barrel. The wine for the Brunello is selected from the oldest vines and the most well-positioned vineyards. Annual production of Brunello is approximately 1,000 cases. In the finest of vintages, La Torre will produce a limited amount of Brunello di Montalcino Riserva which will age for 48 months prior to bottling.
Bea Sagrantino Secco Vigneto Pagliaro 2009 from Umbria
About The Domaine: References in the archives of Montefalco, the beautiful hill town in Umbria, document the presence of the Bea family in this locality as early as 1500. This tiny estate is the classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables. To this day, the Bea family raises and produces much of what they consume on a daily basis. Paolo Bea, the senior member of the family, is the guiding force behind the production of this series of intense and idiosyncratic wines. He is assisted by his two sons, Giuseppe, who farms the vineyards, and Giampiero, who assists in the vinification and is responsible for all commercial aspects of the winery.
The entire property encompasses 15 hectares: 5 of which are dedicated to the vineyards, 2 to olives, and the remainder to the fruits, vegetables and grains that are grown. Sagrantino is the predominant grape, covering 60% of the vineyard surface. The remaining 40% is planted to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with a small parcel planted to several white varieties. The vineyards are cultivated organically, all grapes are harvested manually and all wines are bottled without fining or filtration.
The Wine: The fabled local grape of Montefalco is the Sagrantino and the Pagliaro vineyard, situated at 1300 feet in altitude, is dedicated in large part to this grape variety. The harvest of Sagrantino normally occurs during the second half of October. The cuvaison extends for forty to fifty days. The wines is then aged for one year in stainless steel, another two years in large Slavonian oak barrels and, finally, spends one more year in bottle (the wine, like all Bea wines, is unfiltered) before release. Annual production from the Pagliaro vineyard is 15,000 to 20,000 bottles.
Ferrando Erbaluce Passito de Caluso Cascina Cariola 2009 from Alto Piemonte
About The Domaine: Ferrando’s Erbaluce comes from a beautifully situated four-hectare vineyard of glacial moraine in the commune of Borgomasino, 25 miles north of Torino. These steep south-facing vineyards necessitate a great deal of manual labor, and machine-harvesting here is impossible—remarkable facts given the shockingly reasonable prices the wines command. The family produces a wide range of Erbaluce—from sparkling, to bone-dry, to late-harvest, to passito—reflecting the variety’s incredible versatility. For their intense, clinging mineral character, for their sizzling, penetrating acidity, and for their terroir-drenched mountain essence, Ferrando’s Erbaluce count among the most distinctive white wines in our entire portfolio; and, for their sheer value, they are perhaps unparalleled. Now is an ideal time to explore the many joys of Erbaluce, as its mineral-driven brightness is quenchingly welcome in the heat of late summer, while its complex flavors of mountain herbs and honeyed orchard fruits nod toward the impending autumn.
The Wine: Few sweet wines on earth can approach the layered majesty of great passito-style Erbaluce di Caluso, and Ferrando’s version is the grandest there is. While many sweet wines lose their distinctive stamp of terroir in an overwhelming onslaught of residual sugar, Ferrando’s Passito di Caluso seems to distill and magnify its essential elements: green Alpine herbs still soar above the din; the dominant quince and apple notes are still crunchy and fresh; and a finely honed blade of acidity still slices through it all. A dense thicket of spice and smoke toward the finish suggests very expensive cigar tobacco, and the immense level of sweetness scans as lively and glowing rather than ponderous. To produce this unlikely nectar, the Ferrandos dry early-October-harvested Erbaluce in open air for a full five months. The meager amount of juice yielded by a gentle March pressing is then fermented and aged in small oak barrels for two years, followed by a minimum of two years of bottle aging before release. It is truly one of the greatest sweet wines on the planet, and it makes for a fascinating counterpoint to the family’s lovely dry Erbaluce. A classic “vino da meditazione”
If you are a wine enthusiast or someone interested in expanding your knowledge, learning from the best, go nowhere else but Rosenthal Wine Merchant. And, if you happen to be so lucky, take a trip with Neal. Your view on wine will shift completely and your understanding of the entire process will deepen. There’s no one better.