The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Real Wine in Queens

The notes that follow are from a tasting with Neal Rosenthal at his Queens, NY warehouse on August 17. A half-dozen wholesalers and sommeliers, accompanied by one pesky retailer, gathered for a brutally early-morning survey of new wines being offered by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, a first look that I found really inspiring. Rosenthal's obvious enthusiasm for his new discoveries (and the wines he represents in general) adds greatly to the tasting experience, but I feel that even if we tasted in some sort of impossible hypothetical sensory vacuum, these would shine. But it was nice to try them with a group of dedicated winos and fellow travelers who really seemed to grasp the importance of what Rosenthal is doing for the health of the industry. After three tastings and a number of meals together, I'm convinced Mr. Rosenthal is the real thing. He cares deeply about preserving and protecting food culture, and promoting the role of quality food and wine in society in all its wonderful variations, to an intensity that he appears deeply bothered (despairing in fact) at the continuing loss of unique foods and wines to the twin threats of agribusiness homogenization and consumer apathy. I suspect this passion makes Neal most proud of his ten acres of buckwheat used for the production of buckwheat honey, and the small number of heirloom chickens he keeps in rural Duchess County, NY. Conversation seems inevitably to return to the subject of memorable meals shared with his growers and their families, as Neal recognizes the intrinsic part real wine plays in the creation of these most ephemeral and fundamental of life's pleasures. I can't say enough good things about what Rosenthal Wine Merchant is doing, and not only because Neal treated us to two memorable meals, a sashimi extravaganza at 32 Bond St., and a knockout traditional Brooklyn Italian lunch at Frankie's Spuntino. Fresh pasta, spicy sausage, sage butter sauce done to perfection. Unpretentious, yet they have an Italian wine list that would shame 99% of NC restaurateurs. Freisa from Castiglione Falleto? Erbaluce di Calusa? Awesome.

Tasting Notes

Muscadet de Sevre and Maine "Tire sur Lie" (Domaine des Trois Toits) 2004
Good. Bright citrus. Perfectly pleasant, focused.

Anjou Blanc (Chateau Soucherie) 2004
A little herbal, but just barely. Innocuous. Very easy-going. Cheap, and we do need more French stacks...

Cassis Blanc (Domaine du Bagnol) 2003
Ripe lemon and softer fruit aromas. Lovely spice. Soft texture, but not at all heavy, still summery.

"L'Etincelle" Vin de Pays de l'Herault Blanc (Mas Cal Demoura) 2004
Herb. A bit of prickly acidity, fresh, light, green. Viognier/Chenin Blanc/Bourblenc/Grenache Blanc/Petite Manseng.

"Roucaillat" Coteaux du Languedoc Blanc (Hautes Terres de Comberousse) 2001
Mustard yellow. Seriously mature/oxidative aromas. Really lovely. This wine has a completely harmonious, long finish. Still alive on the palate, despite total oxidation. Grenache Blanc/Rolle/Roussanne

"Rocalhan" Coteaux du Languedoc Blanc (Hautes Terres de Comberousse) 2001
Tasty. Not fruit-driven. Charming. Good long finish.

Saint Romain Blanc "La Perriere" (Domaine des Margotieres) 2002
More clean, up-front aromas than the previous wine. More lemon/cleaning product aromas. More pent-up than the other St. Romain Blanc, but still pleasant enough.

Saint Romain Blanc "Sous la Velle" (Domaine des Margotieres) 2002
Light oak spice. Sulphur dioxide? Lovely on the palate - engaging, incredible persistent ripe apple and red berry fruit. Incredible finish for a "cheap" Burgundy.

Mersault "Clos de Tavaux - Monopole" (Gaunoux) 2002
Oak spice, vanilla, and ripe apple. The Mersault archetype that often gets too close to the border of California for me. If you like this style, it's a good example.

Saint Romain Rouge "Sous Roches" (Domaine des Margotieres) 2001
Very animal. Brambly red berry and fennel. Very satisfying. The good side of competently done.

Volnay 1er Cru "Les Brouillards" (Louis Boillot) 2002
Red candied cherries. Tart cherry aromas. Juicy and dry at once, great brightness. A wine for the cellar (long tannic finish). There's a lot worth thinking about here.

Pommard 1er Cru "Les Fremiers" (Louis Boillot) 2002
Very tight. Less give than the Volnay, but still dead-on. As it should be.

Nuits-St. Georges "Les Poisets" (Arnoux) 2000
A bit of alcohol on the nose. Still closed. Nice texture, but needs to shed a bit of tannin. Juicy bing cherry fruit is in there, though.

Vosne Romanee "Les Hautes Maizieres" (Arnoux) 2000
This is uber-elegant. Wide-open juicy. Balanced wines can be easy to enjoy.

Chambolle-Musigny (Arnoux) 2000
Big stank. Really nice limestone mineral fruit.

Gevrey-Chambertin "En Jouise" (Harmand-Geoffroy) 2001
Oh, the stink. Way too young. Flavor and texture show great promise.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Lavaux St. Jacques" (Harmand-Geoffroy) 2000

Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru (Harmand-Geoffroy) 1999
Very tight still. More pure/focused than the other bottle I've tasted.

Pommard 1er Cru "Les Rugiens" (Gaunoux) 1997
Juice. Bit of herb. Bit of age. Nice.

Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge "L'Infidele" (Mas Cal Demoura) 2001
Major stink. It is the infidel.

"Sassella" Valtellina Superiore (Triacca) 2001
This is delicious. Bright red fruit.

"Riserva La Gatta" Valtellina Superiore (Triacca) 1999
A little more sweet fruit than above, but in a tart cherry candy way.

"Prestigio" Valtellina Superiore (Triacca) 2001
Tastes like above wine, but with mid-palate fatness, riper fruit, but still a pleasant, dry, tannic finish.

"Sforzato" Valtellina Superiore - San Domenico (Triacca) 2001
Smoke. Meat roasting on a campfire. Good.

Cotes-du-Rhone "Vignoble de la Ramiere" (Domaine de Monpertuis) 2003
90% Grenache. Very wide-open - definitely hot vintage. Blueberries.

Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge "Cuvee Classique" (Domaine Monpertuis) 2003
75% Grenache. Syrah/Mourvedre. Holy blueberries. Sweet and ripe, and not very distinctly Chateauneuf.

Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge "Cuvee Tradition" (Domaine Monpertuis) 2003
90% Grenache. Better than above, more tannin. Still not my style. Too blousy.


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