Following in tracks of Kermit Lynch’s spectacular Adventures on the Wine Route, probably the best wine book ever written, out almost a decade and a half before Reflections, Neal Rosenthal shares this colorful memoir of his early days as an NYC wine importer and retailer, traveling across France and Italy in times long gone, when no-one knew who, for instance, Hubert Lignier or Paolo Bea were.
A funny read, riddled with anecdotes and full of tales about a handful of cult producers, yet it is also a brilliant discussion on the shortcomings of the modern wine trade, about a battle between quality, tradition and legacy with sales, vogue and technology, putting a wedge between classic and natural wines vs their commercial and rather soulless adversaries.
Be prepared – Neal is not hiding his resentment, he is blunt and straightforward, no words are spared for growers and distributors who favored an additional buck at the expense of filtering, over-sulfuring, raising alcohol level or otherwise diluting true drops of gold. And as all wine is perishable, and renown wine families may also come to an end (a few lamentable examples are described in great detail) – it is also Neal’s tribute and a way of remembrance of some former treasures long surrendered and lost.
Essential reading for passionate wine geeks.