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 have promoted for nearly fifteen years the highly expressive wines from Roger Coulon in the Montagne de Reims—an envelope-pushing Champagne grower who practices organic farming, employs only native yeasts, and uses minimal quantities of sulfur dioxide. Our lone Spanish producer Recaredo sought us out nearly ten years ago, and we immediately fell head-over-heels for their arrestingly precise, fine, and complex Cavas—crafted from some of the healthiest vineyards we have ever seen. We have long considered the legendary Philippe Foreau’s long-aged Vouvray Brut the absolute zenith of sparkling Chenin Blanc. And we are proud to work with one of the driest, most refined wines in that broad and often-uninspiring category of Prosecco: the Vino Frizzante formerly known as “Glera” from the rock-solid Bisson.
Rosenthal Wine Merchant is excited to announce significantly reduced pricing for a large swath of our sparkling wines. These new promotional prices are in effect as of August 1st, and they will remain in effect until the end of 2017. We urge you to explore the breadth and depth of what we consider one of the most inspiring collections of sparkling wines available.
Rosenthal Wine Merchant has been importing the pure, classically built Champagnes of the Larmandier family in Vertus since 1982. From the beginning, Neal has requested special reduced-dosage disgorgements for the US market, and for years our cuvees received around six grams per liter (compared to the ten-plus grams Francois Larmandier uses for the French market). Over the past few years, we began perceiving slightly more sweetness in certain of our disgorgements—perhaps due to a steadily warming climate, or perhaps due to the increasing vine age of Larmandier’s holdings and the subsequent depth and concentration of the resulting wines. Whatever the reason, while the Champagnes were still balanced, satisfying, and true, we began wondering what they would taste like with even less dosage, and so Francois created special zero-dosage disgorgements for us to try on our annual visit earlier this year. To our delight, the “Brut Zero” experiments uniformly showed brilliantly, with palpable mineral cores, sizzling tension, and none of the sharpness or anemic carriage that sometimes mar totally dry Champagnes. With the Brut Zero offerings we will be debuting later this month, one senses the real intensity of chalky limestone that underpins the great terroirs in which the Larmandier family plies their trade. We could not be more excited to introduce to the US market these new versions of some of our stalwart favorites.
Vertus Brut 1er Cru
A blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir from Larmandier’s premier cru-designated home village of Vertus, this “classic” six-grams-per-liter disgorgement is a blend of two-thirds 2013 vintage and one-third 2012. Whereas this possesses slightly less of the driving limestone cut of the Cramant, it shows more roundness of texture—in keeping with the terroir of Vertus. Subtle notes of fig and green apple frame the satisfyingly broad and long palate, and the overall personality of the wine is generous and forward.
Vertus “Brut Zero” 1er Cru
Sporting a more markedly floral, chalky nose than the classic disgorgement, this new “Brut Zero” version of the Vertus 1er Cru has a similarly chiseled frame to the Cramant above. However, it is less obviously bone-dry on the palate—the ample character the village manifesting itself in a rounder overall texture. The wine is firm without being hard, with a great interplay of supple fruit and intense stoniness.
Vertus Brut Rosé 1er Cru
Larmandier’s Vertus Rosé has always been exemplary, a happy marriage of Cote des Blancs elegance and ripe, succulent red fruit. While interesting, we found the experimental zero-dosage version of the rose sacrificed too much of that nicely caressing texture, and thus this cuvee will remain as it has always been—with around six grams per liter dosage. In keeping with the traditional method by which most rosé Champagne is made, Larmandier Rosé blends a splash of red wine into a base of white wine—in this case, Pinot Noir vinified as a red constitutes 15% of the final blend.
Cramant Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs
From this renowned grand cru in the southern tier of the Cote des Blancs, Larmandier’s Cramant is textbook stuff: beautifully brioche-y, yet with a driving floral elegance and an effortlessly pungent minerality characteristic of Chardonnay grown in a place where it’s truly at home. Vinified entirely in stainless steel to highlight the wine’s chalky soul, this disgorgement is a blend of two-thirds 2012 vintage and one-third 2011. The Cramant is perhaps the wine for which this estate has become the most renowned stateside through the years, and this six-grams-per-liter version of it will doubtlessly please those who prefer a more traditionally styled Blanc des Blancs with a little flesh on its frame.
Cramant Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs “Brut Zero”
The non-dosage disgorgement of Larmandier’s Cramant is a different beast from the “classic” version: less rich but more driving; less broad but longer in the mouth. The total absence of any sense of sweetness allows the limestone to take center stage, and it presents in a more piercing and saline manner than the above wine. Despite its relative rigorousness and austerity, however, this is by no means a difficult wine. Rather, it will appeal to those who relish the sort of palpable, intense mineral character Champagne is capable of when made in such a straightforward fashion.
2008 “Cuvée Signé Francois – Vieilles Vignes” Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs
Larmandier’s prestige cuvee is produced from their oldest parcels of Chardonnay in the grand cru village of Cramant (along with a small amount of fruit from a holding in the Grand Cru Chouilly), and it spends a full five years on the lees before disgorgement. No dosage is present in our version of the 2008, but one would never even know it is missing—the wine’s depth and richness is extraordinary, voicing the sappy and dense character of the fruit Francois wrests from these old vines. Notes of pear tart, fresh figs, baked apples, and cherries frame a vibrant, expansive palate, and the wine’s chalky core shows itself in a clinging, almost salty finish.
- Also available: 2007 “Cuvée Signé Francois” (6 g/L dosage)
Eighth-generation vigneron Eric Coulon creates bold, vinous Champagnes from his eleven organically farmed hectares in the Montagne de Reims. A rare breed in this generally risk-averse region, Eric allows his wines to ferment spontaneously and does not subject them to filtration. He maintains a solera encompassing a plethora of older vintages which he uses to build additional complexity into his cuvees, and all but one of his Champagnes see over five years of lees aging before disgorgement. He employs a very modest dosage, thereby allowing the vivid, healthy character of the fruit and the rich, earth-driven, authoritatively powerful character of his terroirs to shine through brilliantly.
“Grande Tradition – Heri Hodie” Brut 1er Cru
Produced from holdings in the premier cru villages of Vrigny, Pargny, and Coulomme, “Grande Tradition” is composed primarily of Pinot Meunier, with very small amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The current release—a blend of 50% 2012-vintage wine and 50% wine from Eric’s solera (which he fills halfway with a new vintage each year)—spent three years on its lees before disgorgement and received a very small three-grams-per-liter dosage. Pinot Meunier’s exuberant, zesty personality comes through loud and clear in this forward yet nicely taut wine, one whose earth-tinged flavors wear the imprint of their terroir proudly.
“Reserve de l’Hommee” Brut 1er Cru
Eric’s highest-production Champagne, “Reserve de l’Hommee” is a blend of equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay from the premier cru villages of Vrigny and Pargny. The Chardonnay is fermented and aged in oak, while the Pinot Noir and Meunier are raised in steel, and the wine spends a lengthy five years on its lees before disgorgement. The current offering is a blend of 2010 and 2011, and Eric has recently adjusted the dosage for this cuvee down from six to three grams per liter—with a resultant increase in refinement, minerality, and drive. Where “Grande Tradition” is more lithe and brisk, “Reserve de l’Hommee” is deeper in spirit and more sumptuous.
2009 Blanc de Noirs Brut Millesime
This unabashedly red-fruited and intense Champagne is produced from equal parts Pinot Noir and ungrafted Pinot Meunier from the premier cru villages of Vrigny and Gueux. Rich and full-bodied on the palate, the luscious and expansive character of the fruit completely absorbs the three-grams-per-liter dosage. With notes of pain aux raisins, musky flowers, sea salt, and iodine, Coulon’s Blanc de Noirs is boldly vinous and straightforwardly delicious at the same time—a real tour de force, given even greater heft here by the generosity of the 2009 vintage.
- Also available: 2007 Blanc de Noirs
“Esprit de Vrigny” Brut Nature 1er Cru
Coulon’s “Esprit de Vrigny” is a zero-dosage blend of roughly equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, fermented and aged entirely in used oak barrels, and aged on its lees for six solid years prior to disgorgement. The current release, a blend of 2007 and 2008, is thrillingly fine, taut, and mineral, but it displays great mouth-coating concentration and density—a perfect homage to the noble soils of the village of Vrigny, rendered as transparently as is possible.
“Cuvee Prestige – Heritage” 1er Cru
A rare Blanc des Blancs from this red-grape-dominated zone, Coulon’s magisterial “Heritage” is produced from a single plot of old Chardonnay in the Coteaux de Vallier vineyard. Previously used oak barrels are employed for both primary fermentation and aging, and the wine spends eighteen months on its fine lees before secondary fermentation. Disgorgement takes place after no fewer than ten years of lees aging, and the resultant Champagne is stunning in its depth. A blend of the 2002 and 2003 vintages, the current disgorgement received a dosage of just one gram per liter, and is a layered, contemplative, profoundly powerful wine.
Legendary in their home region of Catalunya, Cava Recaredo has only been exporting wine for about a decade of its 93-year existence. Since then, they have acquired a devoted following for their inimitably elegant, ultra-long-aged sparkling wines, and we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to represent them in the US. At fewer than 50 hectares exclusively within the confines of the Alt-Penedes, Recaredo’s holdings are miniscule by Cava standards, and they have always worked only with estate-grown fruit. They were the first grower in the Penedes to begin practicing biodynamic viticulture, and the first to achieve certification. They harvest exclusively by hand—a rare practice in a region often fixated on low cost rather than high quality—and they take absolutely no shortcuts in their cellar work. Each Cava is from a single vintage and is designated as such, and every single bottle they produce undergoes a Gran Reserva-level aging period. Primary fermentations always occur spontaneously, and secondary fermentations take place exclusively under natural cork—for a bare minimum of three and a half years. Each bottle is hand-riddled and hand-disgorged at cellar temperature (with no neck-freezing). No Cava ever receives a dosage, as Recaredo seeks maximum minerality and precision in their wines. The incredible amount of care and skill behind each bottle is evident in spades, and Recaredo—as its ever-growing fan base can attest—is truly in a class by itself.
2010 “Terrers” Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Recaredo’s flagship Cava, “Terrers” is a blend of 54% Xarel-lo, 42% Macabeu, and 4% Parellada. Five solid years on the lees imbues the wine with sumptuous depth, yet there is none of the excessive yeastiness or clumsy creaminess that sometimes blur terroir expression in such long-aged sparkling wines. Instead, a subdued but persistent mousse serves as a texturally enchanting delivery system for pure limestone essence, framed by crunchy yellow fruits and a lacing of dried honey. Although, like all of Recaredo’s Cavas, “Terrers” receives no dosage, it does not scream shrilly of its dryness—it hangs together beautifully, comfortable in its harmony of acid, mineral, and fruit. The taster is left with, above all, a striking sense of elegance that is exceedingly hard to come by in the sparkling wines of this region—and it is this elusive elegance in particular that makes Recaredo the greatest Cava producer there is.
2007 “Brut de Brut” Brut Nature Gran Reserva
For the first time, with the 2007 vintage, Recaredo produced their always fiercely mineral-driven “Brut de Brut” from a single zone: the Serral del Vall, in the Bitlles Valley Highlands. Topsoils here are poor, and this wine expresses the characteristic limestone of the Alt-Penedes even more forcefully than the “Terrers” above. Created from equal parts Xarel-lo and Macabeu, the 2007 spent eight years on the lees before disgorgement, and the resulting Cava bears the mark of its extended aging in its broad, layered, incredibly deep texture. While not heavier than “Terrers,” it is decidedly more mineral-dominated and complex. Furthermore, the relatively cool 2007 growing season resulted in a wine of excellent acidity—a perfect foil for its autolytic complexity.
2005 “Reserva Particular” Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Recaredo’s astonishing “Reserva Particular” is made from old vines of Xarel-lo (55%) and Macabeu (45%) planted in the early 1950s. The Xarel-lo undergoes initial fermentation and aging in previously used oak barrels, thereby lending the wine an additional layer of textural intrigue, and the wine spends over ten years resting on its lees under—as always—natural cork. One would be forgiven for expecting the end result to be overwhelmingly yeasty, but this Cava is stunning in its clarity and verve—almost more youthful than the “Brut de Brut” above. Its subtle notes of brioche are offset by bright, clean aromas of red and yellow fruits and a firm spine of salty minerality. A gentle mousse allows its complex vinous qualities to be foregrounded. (Each bottle of “Reserva Particular” is individually packaged in a handsome sliding-top wooden box.)
2005 “Turo d’En Mota”
The legendary “Turo d’En Mota” hails from a single parcel of Xarel-lo planted in 1940 in the greatest vineyard Recaredo owns, in the highest-altitude sector of the Alt-Penedes. Like the “Reserva Particular” above, it presents in a shockingly youthful manner given the full decade it spent on the lees, and older bottles have wowed us with their slow and regal evolution. With “Turo d’En Mota,” one understands in a profound way the estate’s insistence that Xarel-lo is the most pure and true deliverer of terroir in the Penedes. Its layers of complexity and its eerily perfect sense of balance put it in an elite peer group that includes only the very finest of Champagnes, and it is without a doubt the greatest wine produced in the region—and one of the greatest in all of Spain. (As with the “Reserva Particular,” each bottle is individually packaged in wood.)
2012 “Intens Rosat” Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Made from 71% Monastrell, 23% Pinot Noir, and 6% Garnatxa, Recaredo’s “Intens Rosat” has no pretenses of being an airy, innocuous quaffing rose. On the contrary, in its brilliant ruby color, in its volume and breadth in the mouth, and in its delicious succulence, it revels in its power and depth. Despite its generosity, however, a telltale and very Recaredo sense of grace and restraint keeps it in balance. It deftly conquers the challenge facing all warm-climate wines: how to evoke the spirit of terroir without succumbing to excess ripeness—or, conversely, how to maintain acidity and freshness without denying the wine’s sun-blessed birthplace. As far as cuisine, one would be hard pressed to find a dish that could out-muscle this robust Cava, yet its innate elegance keeps it from trampling more delicate preparations.
2011 Vouvray Brut
Inarguably one of the greatest producers of Vouvray—and, for that matter, all of the Loire Valley—Philippe Foreau has provided us with age-worthy, viscerally expressive Chenin Blanc from his elite holdings for nearly 40 years. While he is justly famous for his still wines, Philippe produces a healthy amount of impeccable Vouvray Brut from among his eleven hectares. Never chaptalized, Foreau’s sparkling wine always comes from a single vintage and receives an extended passage on the lees before disgorgement—in the case of this 2011, nearly five years. With a virtually invisible dosage of less than two grams per liter, the final product delivers all of the mineral-drenched, honeyed complexity of Foreau’s epic Vouvray Sec. An ultra-fine and elegant mousse allows the wine’s vigorous acidity—rather than a rush of coarse bubbles—to act as its engine. From the strong 2011 vintage, this stunning Vouvray Brut gazes down at most of the category from a dizzying height.
- 2007 Vouvray Brut Reserve
- 2005 Vouvray Brut Reserve (ultra-limited)
- 2002 Vouvray Brut Reserve (ultra-limited)
2016 “Bianco delle Venezie” Vino Frizzante Trevigiana
Dynamic and tireless Pierluigi Lugano is not only our source of great Ligurian wine from indigenous varieties—he is responsible for one of the highlights of our sparkling wine portfolio: the ever-popular frizzante known as “Glera” for the past several years, which takes on a new description as “Bianco delle Venezie” with the 2016 vintage. For many years now, Lugano has worked with his good friend Eli Spagnol of Torre Zecchei in the elite Valdobbiadene district of the Veneto, tailoring the production of a racy, vivid, beautifully brisk Prosecco to Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s exacting specifications. In a sea of vapid, overly sweet Prosecco, this frizzante stands out proudly. Spagnol is in charge of a mere 30 hectares—tiny by Prosecco standards—and our wine is hand-harvested from shockingly steep hillside vineyards in the DOCG zone of Valdobiaddene. Made using careful temperature regulation in order to preserve delicacy and freshness, the wine is bottled with just two grams per liter of residual sugar—a refreshingly bone-dry offering that stands in sharp contrast to its many cloying peers. Clean, bright, and refreshing, it presents notes of acacia honey, white flowers, crunchy green apples, and tart nectarines atop a subtly mineral underlay.