Domaine Roses Camille Wine Tasting in Snowy Jerusalem

Wine Tasting panel for the DRC DinnerPicking up from where we left off – Jerusalem was a snow covered wonderland and we had just come back from visiting Teperberg Winery, and it was now time to find our way back to the Scala Restaurant, the David Citadel’s upper scale restaurant. We were there to meet with Nicolas Daniel Ranson and Christophe Bardeau, the co-owner and the winemaker of Domaine Roses Camille in Pomerol, Bordeaux (who is a co-owner as well). To be very honest, this posting is very late, like much of the posts I need to get up, but hey, better late than not at all.

I must also ask forgiveness for having never worked out the time to talk over the phone and post my notes in a more complete posting as this on Christophe and the winery. There were many attempts and for one reason or another, we kept getting our lines crossed. Blessedly, the time finally arrived when we could all sit around a table and enjoy some wine and talk about the winery and the wine they make.

In case you have all been sleeping in a cave or under a rock, for the past 5 years, DRC (Domaine Roses Camille), as it is known in the kosher world, exploded onto the scene, when out of nowhere, the Late Daniel Rogov, scored the 2005 Domaine Roses Camille a 95, and called it the best kosher Bordeaux wine ever. This was then followed by a tasting of the 2006 vintage, which received a score of 93, and DRC was on the map, in the minds of each and every serious kosher wine buyer.

So, you may ask who and what is DRC and how did we all miss them for so many years, well that is simple – they are the textbook story of a garagiste winery. In Israel, the term used is boutique winery, in France they call it a garagiste, because many of these tiny wineries start in a garage – much like Silicon Valley started.

Nicolas Daniel Ranson is a religious Jew who loves wine and who became friends with an insanely talented winemaker named Christophe Bardeau, and well the rest is history. Having spent a few hours with Christophe talking wine, mostly in French, gave me an appreciation for a man – whose deeply rooted wine talent – belies his young visage and age. The wine of course, talks for itself, deep, earthy, well rooted in mineral, with lovely black and red fruit, all wrapped in ample acid and mouth coating tannin. This kind of wine does not just appear by itself! This is a wine that starts in the vineyard, like all great wines. A vineyard that is a stone’s throw away from the famous Petrus vineyards, and with great care and effort those grapes are turned into a wine that may well be closest thing we get to taste to the famed Petrus! Much of what he uses today to make his wine he learned as assistant winemaker at the prestigious neighboring Château L’Eglise-Clinet, and what he continues to learn about.

The story starts with Christophe’s family – a story that is truly heartwarming and one that I pulled from the website:

The estate was originally held by the Rivière family. Their relative, Mr. Cazemajou, was imprisoned during the Second World War, where his brother in law’s family, the Rivières, offered to have Mrs. Cazemajou and her son move to Pomerol and assist with maintaining the estate, which was then called Domaine du Castel, in exchange for room and board. The Rivières had intended to leave the estate to the Cazemajou’s son, as they themselves were childless. This young man of 15 was indeed very involved in the property, and following the passing of Mr. and Mrs. Rivière, became the owner. He was none other than Robert Cazemajou, grandfather of the Domaine’s current winemaker, Christophe Bardeau. Christophe continues to develop his family’s legacy.

The vineyard itself is approximately one hectare in size and straddles the appellations of Pomerol and Lalande-de-Pomerol. It borders the famous estates of Clos l’Eglise, Chateau Rouget, La Violette, and La Croix de Gay. With a vineyard size of 1 Hectare, the vines predate the “Great Frost of 1956″ (Coldest vintage since 1709, where much of Bordeaux was replanted). The composition of the vineyard is approximately 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. The average age of the vines is 60 years, with one parcel averaging over 100 years of age. The soil is mainly composed of blue clay, as well as yellow and black gravel interspersed with iron deposits. This vein of blue clay originates in Vieux Chateau Certain, flows into La Violette, and finally into Domaine Roses Camille.

The fascinating fact about that snippet is the actual name of the vineyard! Please understand that most wineries in France, name their wines after the vineyard, this lovely wine was forced to go by another name because of existing trademarks. The name Domain Roses Camille came by an amalgamation of a few facts. Camille is the name of Christophe’s niece and Roses was because they were one of his grandmother’s favorite flowers. So family defined the new name and family defines the wine through the vines that have been painstakingly cared for by ancestors for three generations now. The vineyards are cared for in classic biodynamic style, the vines are all organically cared for, right down to the horse and carriage plowing to minimize compacting thereby preserving microbial life in the soil. Green clusters are removed to improve concentration and foliage is thinned to assure sun contact and to minimize the need for copper or other such spraying to keep mold at bay. Harvesting is done by hand, as is the sorting table that makes sure to remove all foreign substances and potential green fruit from getting crushed.

Sadly, with all of this tight control, production is limited from the 1 hectare of DRC grapes. Overall, there are 7 hectares that are lovingly cared for by Christophe, 1 of DRC grapes, 3 under the name Domain du Castel, and three under the name of echo du Roses Camille. Before 2005, all the grapes were sold to wineries making wines on the status of Petrus and Clinet. However, in 2005, Daniel and Christophe made wine under the label of Domaine Roses Camille and made just 900 bottles. In 2006, the entire plot of DRC grapes were used, instead of being sold off, which turned into some 2000 bottles! In 2007 the DRC was made once again, but because of a different reasons, the wine was not kosher. Since then DRC has been produced, but not kosher, until 2011 when they once again made kosher wine, but using the echo vineyard – which produced some 2000 bottles for 2011. 2012 looks like all the wine will be back, both DRC and echo, under the kosher label, but only time will tell, as they are truly young wines.

In 2011, Christophe also made another wine with Daniel, but sourcing the grapes from a Saint-Emilion estate, Château Moulin de la Clide. The wine here is vastly different in style, being a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The echo and the DRC are both Merlot wines with a bit of Cabernet Franc flushed in to make the blend. When talking with Christophe, it was interesting to hear him talk about how Cabernet was not his favorite grape, that award goes to Merlot of course, given his vineyards. Merlot, he explained, becomes riper where he lives, and because of climactic forces, Cabernet is not an easy grape to get 100% ripe in the Bordeaux regions that surround him. Merlot, on the other hand tends to get to its ripeness and its phenolic maturation without need of much or any human interaction.

The wines continue to win awards, from all of the most prestigious trade rags. However, the best proof to good wine is who buys it. The wines are poured at the top Michelin star restaurants and hotels

  • Four Seasons Hotel George V – Paris
  • La Réserve Genève – Geneva
  • Port Palace de Monaco – Monte Carlo
  • La Tour d’Argent – Paris
  • Restaurante Zalacaín – Madrid

To say the evening was truly enjoyable would be a minor understatement. We had the opportunity to once again, taste the two great merlot wines side by side, the 2005 and 2005 Domaine Roses Camille. The tasting also included the new 2011 wines, the 2011 Echo du Roses Camille and the 2011 Château Moulin de la Clide (unlabeled still from barrel). While Jerusalem was going mad outside, with snow and cold, we were happily nestled away inside the Scala restaurant, tasting world-class wines with one some great wine aficionados, what more can a wine lover ask for! I had the luck, chance, and honor to taste the two DRC wines before, side by side, with Andrew down in Southern Cali and though the wines then were really nice, the wines here showed better, obviously time has been kind to the wines, and I think will continue to help them evolve for the better. These wines are available on both the west and east costs of the United States, though the 2005 will be VERY hard to find, while the 2006 is available at liquidKosher.com and a few stores in New York as well.

The two Merlot wines were captivating and truly lovely in all the right ways. The Echo was not a second label at all – it showed the same rich characteristics of the DRC wines, but with some slightly muted fruit. The Clide was an entirely different beast of course, but one that will be loved by many a French wine connoisseur. My man thanks to Nicolas Daniel Ranson and Christophe Bardeau for hosting the event and for sharing their wonderful wines with us all! The wine notes follow below:

2005 Domaine Roses Camille, Pomerol – Score: A
This is a wine made up of 98% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Of the 2005 and 2006 vintages this is clearly the winner – but still it is a winner in the very French and elegant styled manner. I know there will be many that find this wine lacking and not worthy of the accolades – different wines for different folks. The nose explodes with insane perfume of herbaceous notes, green bell pepper, rich barnyard funk, raspberry, black cherry, and strawberry. The mouth opens nicely to mouth coating tannin, along with layers of green herb, candied fruit, blackcurrant, blackberry, red fruit, and cedar that melds into a quite elegant whole. The finish is long with good spice, nice chocolate, tobacco, toast, and a hint of citrus zest. A lovely wine that comes together when given the time to open and show its true self. Still, a wine that needs much more time till it is ready to be appreciated by the wine populace, give this a few more years and then try again.

2006 Domaine Roses Camille, Pomerol – Score: A- (plus more)
This wine, like its older brother is made up primarily of Merlot grapes and is another great example of what elegance looks like in French Bordeaux. The nose starts off with an attack of lovely green notes, raspberry, and nice graphite and mineral. Over time the nose opens to layers show dark cherry, rich aromas of tobacco, and candied fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is soft, rich, plush, and elegant in all the right ways, with ripe blackcurrant, nice mouth coating and plush tannin, and a hint of cedar that comes together quite nicely. The finish is long and luscious with chocolate covered tobacco leaves, tobacco covered fruit, all under a canopy of green and red fruit. The mouth is rich and layered but it is the elegance of the wine and the finish that bring this wine home.

2011 Chateau Moulin de la Clide St. Emilion – Score: A-
This is a wine that I was given to taste, a barrel sample that comes from an existing winery that until now did not make kosher wine. The wine is 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc. The wine took hours and hours to open up. At first all you smell is dirt and mushroom. As the wine started to open up it, the red fruits and chocolate start to make an appearance. This is a classic Saint Emilion blend, that is also a fully kosher cuvée, not just a single kosher run inside a non-kosher winery. Finally, it may well be the closest thing we will get to Cheval Blanc in the kosher wine world, so far anyway.

The nose starts off closed as tight as a steel drum, and then it opened up after 10 hours of air and crystalline double decanting (opening the wine for many hours, decanting and then rebottling). The nose starts to open with ripe fruit, loamy dirt, ethereal forest floor, and red fruit perfume – what a lovely experience of watching wine open. The mouth on this medium plus wine follows classic French style, no hammering fruit, no fruit forward issues here, but to be fair it also requires you to take notice of more subtle intonations and characteristics. Here the wine is not a wallflower, but while it is not a Cali wine – it does not lack in complexity, but it is not an extracted wine either.

The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich and ripe with blackberry, cassis, ripe black plum, lovely black cherry, and tart raspberry, all wrapped up in insane mouth coating tannin that does not give up – two days later! Clearly the star of the show is the tannin and loamy dirt, but the fruit and oak add to the wine’s complexity, that help round the mouth and add depth to its meaning. The finish is a bit short, but does lengthen with time, with classic French balance, great acid, mineral, graphite, chocolate, more dirt that mingles with tart red fruit, leather, and tobacco to make for a long lingering wine. Over time the wine shows even more massive size and expression with bigger and richer tannin, blacker fruit expression all still balanced well with zesty red fruit, dirt, and mineral. Look for this wine to round out more and fill in earlier on.

2011 Echo de Roses Camille, Pomerol – Score: A-
The wine starts off closed and cold shouldered as can be with medicinal funk, eucalyptus, and loamy dirt, with the mouth following the nose with medium body and good tannin. After a fair amount of decanting this wine finally came out to play. Until then the wine was hollow and empty in the middle. Once the wine opened it showed a nose of loamy dirt, red fruit, mineral, green forest underlay, and classic bell pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is layered with ripe red fruit, cherry, raspberry, plum, and hints of cassis, all coming together with a nice mouth coating tannin that lingers long, with sweet cedar, and green notes. The wine is well structured with great acid and nice layered fruit. The finish is long with good balancing acid, tobacco, chocolate, leather notes, herb, eucalyptus, and lovely sweet tart red fruit that lingers long after the wine is finished. I MUST STRESS – this wine is not ready for prime time. Please let this lie in your cellar for a year. If YOU MUST open it, I mean this with all seriousness, open the bottle 24 hours before enjoying. I saw the best in this wine after 24 hours of air and no refrigeration.

Posted on January 15, 2014, in Food and drink, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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