On Saturday, Rob and I circled the Upper East Side until we finally found the Rosenthal Wine Merchant, tucked away on 84th Street, between 1st and 2nd. Unlike most wine shops, this one actually imports its own wine from small European producers, most of which are family owned. However, you won’t find any of its French (75% of the store’s holdings) or Italian (25%) wines on window display, so be careful when walking, as this one might get away. Peering through the glass will offer glimpses of cases ready to ship. The ‘store’ is located downstairs (though none of the bottles are actually priced), which is where Saturday’s tasting was held, and where one is free to shop (even if just for a single bottle of wine).
Rosenthal served two whites from the Piedmont region in northern Italy (near the village of Caluso), both of the Erbaluce varietal (an ancient Roman grape) and produced by Ferrando.
The first pour, La Torrazza, 2007, which though not possessing much of a bouquet, was fruity and light with a trace of minerality.
The Caluso Cariola, 2007, pale straw in color with a buttery texture, was also fruity, with a slightly acidic finish. Both wines were quite pleasant; an easy drink on a summer night.
They also poured two reds produced by Ferrando–Canavese Rosso, 2006, and Etichette Bianca, 2003.
The Canavese Rosso, made of Nebbiolo and a third Barbera, was very promising on the nose, full of earthy scents and mushroom, but once sipped, did not follow through. (Not that I expected it to at $17.75 a bottle.) Mid-palate, the wine turned a bit green, the fruit dissipated, and overall, finished a bit bitter and thin. But since the lovely hostess said they consider this their “pizza wine” (at that price, we certainly don’t eat from the same shop), I guess this wine would gracefully serve that purpose.
My favorite was the Etichette Bianca, produced from 100% Nebbiolo, a dark ruby red with hearty legs, and an earthy (mushroom), bouquet that did succeed on the palate. (Was that a touch of violet I sensed?) Full of dark berries, and perhaps two kinds of spice–I detected one woody, cedar like spice, and black pepper–this slightly tannic wine would compliment any vegetarian mushroom dish on a fall/winter night.
The representative said that there wouldn’t be many more tastings this summer, but encouraged us to sign up for listings, and attend more in the fall when the pace picks up again.
[Where: 318 E. 84th St., New York, NY 10028]
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