Wine Lovers Turned Wine Distributers | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Wine Lovers Turned Wine Distributers

M&M's lineup is small but mighty

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M&M Importers is a new kosher wine importer and négociant, yet in just over a year it has made a name for itself in Brooklyn, NY, as a top tier player in the kosher wine industry, offering high-end French and Italian wines.

Dr. Ralph Madeb, the president and CEO of M&M Importers, is the driving force behind this venture. His business partner, David Motovich, is the “numbers guy.” Together, they launched M&M in 2016, but did not begin selling any wine until 2018 because, as Madeb put it to me in our recent phone conversation, they “were waiting for the wines to mature.”

Currently M&M Importers is just the two of them—Madeb and Motovich—though they plan to hire a salesperson soon.

Both Madeb and Motovich are accomplished professionals outside of their wine venture. Madeb is a respected physician and surgeon with a busy practice. Motovich is a successful Brooklyn businessman: he’s CFO of a thriving lumberyard, a supplier of contractor building materials, and the CEO of a dialysis center. Together they decided to channel their all-consuming avocation for fine kosher wine into this M&M Importers side-business.

Dr. Ralph Madeb at a wine tasting

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 in 2017. 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 portfolio to 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 distributers—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 greatly expanding the existence and availability of premium kosher Italian wines. Before too long, M&M will be bringing a new kosher premium Chianti Classico, several new high-end kosher Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines, several high-level kosher Brunello di Montalcino are planned, and a couple of kosher Sicilian wines, including a Nero d'Avola, are in the works already, as is a kosher Roscetto, an ancient white wine variety indigenous to the Montefiascone region of Lazio. They are pursuing other opportunities all the time too. For lovers of Italian wine, this is all very exciting stuff. For those not yet familiar, get ready for some fabulous exploration.

David Motovich & Dr. Ralph Madeb taking delivery

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 currently just Brooklyn, availability in New Jersey and Florida is coming soon. Regardless, the current lineup is well 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-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. Wonderful.

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.


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