M&M Importers is a new kosher wine importer and négociant, offering high-end French and Italian wines. CEO Ralph Madeb is the driving force behind this venture. His business partner, David Motovich, is the numbers guy. They launched M&M in 2016, but did not begin selling wine until 2018 because, as Madeb put it to me in our recent phone conversation, they “were waiting for the wines to mature.”
In their first significant step, Madeb negotiated a deal in 2017 for M&M to become the exclusive U.S. importer of the IDS portfolio of kosher Grand Cru Classé wines. This is a small but incredibly high-end portfolio of expensive and highly limited availability French kosher wines.
Through many hours of hand selling this expensive French portfolioto many of Brooklyn’s kosher wine retailers, Madeb quickly built a reputation as a serious kosher wine industry player. Without missing a beat, he and Motovich turned their attention to becoming premium-wine négociants — seeking out fine wine producers they might induce to produce kosher wines.
Despite being avowed lovers of French wines, Italy is where M&M is quickly breaking new ground. If all that Madeb described to me comes to fruition, M&M will soon be expanding the availabilityof premium kosher Italian wines. Before long, M&M will be bringing a new kosher premium Chianti classico, several new high-end kosher Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines and a couple of kosher Sicilian wines.
For lovers of Italian wine, this is all very exciting stuff. For those not yet familiar, get ready for some fabulous exploration
For now, M&M’s Italian portfolio is small but stunning — featuring three wines from the Famiglia Cotarella — still better known under its old name, Falesco — estate: their Marciliano, a cabernet blend from Umbria, and their Montiano, a merlot from Lazio, are both from the 2014 vintage, and an unusual one-off 2013 white blend named Eccelenza.
While M&M’s distribution is just Brooklyn, the current lineup is worth seeking out.
Cotarella, Eccelenza Bianco, Umbira, IGP, 2013 ($35): A full yet slightly austere and altogether intriguing white blend of 70 percent verdicchio and 30 percent malvasia offering floral and honeysuckle notes, along with an unusual but enticing, slightly salty cheese rind-like element with a mélange of citrus notes — pith, marmalade, and orange peel — along with some melon and stone-fruit, toasted almonds, ginger and a lovely piquant acidity; overall tangy with some fascinating oxidative, slightly briny notes. Stimulating and vibrant.
Famiglia Cotarella, Marciliano, Umbria, IGT, 2014 (kosher edition; $75): The last kosher vintage of this was 2008, but this certainly lives up to its reputation — indeed, this vintage is superior. It is, however, still very young. I would give it at least another four to five years of ageing before hoping to catch the start of its drinking window. That said, this blend of 70 percent cabernet sauvignon and 30 percent cabernet franc is rewarding, fairly elegant, velvety, and altogether fine now. Look for layered notes of black currant, blackberries, tobacco, pomegranate and spices, with supple tannins and a lingering finish.
Famiglia Cotarella, Montiano, Lazio IGT, 2014 (kosher edition; $75): This 100 percent merlot wine is fabulous, but really is too young now. Give it at least a few more years to mature in bottle to really strut its stuff. It is inky, dark, medium-to-full bodied and intense with notes of black-olive, blackberry, black currant and black cherry fruit, with notes of nutmeg, anise, minerals and a subtle eucalyptus-like note in the backdrop. Elegant, sculpted, complex and delicious! L’chaim!
Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at [email protected].