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by Neal I. Rosenthal

Pub Date: May 7th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-374-24856-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A purveyor of fine wines offers his thoughts on the correct way to get the best reds and whites from Europe’s cellars to New York’s sellers.

Rosenthal demands exclusivity, no filtration and full fidelity—and he indicts those who fail to meet these requirements. Like a realtor, he declares that the most important consideration is location: Terroir, where the grape lives, is of the essence when it comes to concupiscible vintages. Having no interest in wines of the New World, the author has always concentrated on the small family vignerons of Italy and France. He recounts pleasant meetings leading to palate-delighting discoveries with the local cognoscenti, growers, rascals and rogues in the fellowship of the vine. Tastings engender lavish descriptions. Forget simple “nose” or “legs”; his wares merit greater eloquence. Rosenthal depicts one vintage that, when properly mature, is “of stunning complexity with aromas that recall summer’s most pungent and sweet flowers and herbs, accompanied by notes reminiscent of well-worn saddle leather and animal fur; the flavors are of licorice and burnt cherry and chocolate and tobacco [with] the almost tangible feel of a light coating of mineral-infused dust.” What serious oenophile can resist such evocative and romantic appellations: Chambave Rouge from the Valle d’Aosta, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Trockenbeerenauslese? Connoisseurs of a particularly highfalutin bent will no doubt savor this celebration of the vintner’s art; the hoi polloi may prefer Sergio Esposito’s more accessible expressions of enthusiasm in Passion on the Vine (2008).

Exudes the supercilious attitude of a high-end sommelier who deigns to dispense superior wine wisdom.