American Wine Awards 2008: Importer of the Year
F&W honors Neal Rosenthal, the pioneering importer who’s brought scores of terrific, natural wines to America’s shores.
Neal Rosenthal, Rosenthal Wine Merchant
“There is a reason you put a wine’s place of origin and vintage on the label,” Neal Rosenthal says. “Because a wine is a history book.” Passionate and outspoken—as is made clear in his new memoir, Reflections of a Wine Merchant—Rosenthal has spent his 30-year career arguing for the importance of two deceptively simple things: a wine’s expression of terroir, and its reflection, for good or ill, of its harvest year. Others may support these ideals, but few have Rosenthal’s crusading spirit. His mostly French and northern Italian list consists entirely of modest-size wineries that grow their own grapes and produce wine without filtering, fining or adding sulfites. Rosenthal was the first to import Yves Cuilleron from the Rhône and was an early proponent of other now-much-lauded labels, like Montevertine from Tuscany. Got a great wine from an unheralded area like France’s Jura? Call Rosenthal. “Even the French thought I was crazy with that one,” he says.