Back to the Future – the kosher French wines available today

Well, I hope all of you enjoyed the Passover respite (some see it as a stressful time, I see it purely as a joyous time, and yes I do a lot of cleaning as well). This post I wanted to talk about the kosher French wines that I have tasted recently.

Now I must stress that these are the wines that I have tasted, not ALL the wines that are available. There are hundreds of kosher French wines, and the vast majority of them never make it to the USA. With that said, I really LOVE the new crop of 2011 and 2012 wines that have made their way to the US and around the world. But before we jump into the nitty gritty and the tastings we need to take a step back and talk about French wines for a second.

Let us start with some very basic concepts around France and its wines. To start it is one of the oldest wine making locations in the world. Sure, Israel, may well be the oldest, but it stopped making wine for a very long time – till around the 1870s or so. Even then, they did not start making real world class wines till the 1980s (ignoring the 1901 and 1970 successes of Carmel).

France is once again the largest wine producer in the world, as of 2014, and most of it is quality wine. It is hard to find another country that makes so many good wines, so many vastly different wines – each from their own terroir – with such a long and storied history. The wines I will be talking about today are mostly from Bordeaux, the home of the “noble grapes of the world” – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc (not on the official noble list), and Sauvignon Blanc. To be fair there are other noble grapes not in Bordeaux, like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Burgundy. Riesling – mostly from Alsace and Sauvignon Blanc again from Upper Loire. Toss in Syrah and Grenache from the Rhone and that comprises the wines that I am noting today.

I did not write Pinot Noir notes – I did that recently here and you can read my French wine notes there.

I have written often about the wines of the Rhone – because many of my favorite wines from California (Shirah and Hajdu) make most of their wines that comprise the region called Rhone. Those would be Syrah (as noted previously), Grenache, and Petite Sirah (not really Rhone at all, but the Rhone Rangers love it). With some Grenache Blanc and Viognier thrown in.

In case you have not yet realized it, but I have pretty much listed many of my own favorite varietals, and they all come from France. Truly France is the cradle of the wine world. Sadly, there was little to no kosher options in the 1980s, even though France itself was producing 10s of millions of cases of wine at that time.

Of course of all the varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot tend to grab all the headlines. Rightfully so to some, but to many the wines of the Rhone and Burgundy are of more interest. So, how does all of this work? France long ago decided to control what varietals would be planted and within the regions of its country that would produce the best wines possible. It is a foreign thought to many still, even here in the USA. Terroir defines France. Essentially the 300 or so appellations d’origine contrôlee (AOC) within the country are so designed and controlled to allow for creating the best wines possible. Planting Syrah in Bordeaux can be done – but why? Syrah requires far more heat and sun that Bordeaux can dish out – so Syrah was defined as a southern grape location – AKA Rhone, where it can flourish in all of its glory.

The main wines we will be talking about today, come from these regions; Bordeaux, Rhone, Champagne, Loire, and Alsace, with Burgundy skipped on this post. All of those regions were defined long ago, not by the country but by the wine makers and farmers that for centuries created wines that captivated the world. However, starting in 1901, ratified in 1905 and 1919 and then fully enforced in 1935, France created the concept of the AOC. Of course it defines far more than just wine, cheese was in theory ratified in 1411 when Roquefort was regulated by a parliamentary decree (from Wikipedia).

If you look at the regions and the grapes grown there, you may be shocked to see that Cabernet is not even in the top 5 of all grapes grown in France. NOPE! Merlot is number one, followed by Grenache, Ugni Blanc, Syrah, Carignan, and THEN Cabernet Sauvignon (coming in number 6)! Parenthetically, no there is no Ugni Blanc kosher wine – but the vast majority of it is used for Cognac – and that there are many versions of!

Now wine has been being made in France dating back to the 6th Century BC. There are older proofs to wine production in other regions of the world, like Israel and North Africa, however, starting soon after, they mostly stopped making wine for various different reasons. France, never really did stop making wine, it had serious issues, like war, mad rulers, and Phylloxera. Still, throughout they persevered and are the forbearers of all that we hold good and true about wine, given their continued production.

Many people talk about terroir, and little really know what it means. To some it is defined by the flavors they taste in wine. To some it means the already described AOC, to others it is just hogwash. To me, terroir is simply defined as planting a vine where it can produce the best grapes. Sure, the outcome may well have flavors of dirt and mineral and such. Those flavors are still being worked out by scientists around the world, where do they come from, the land, the grapes, the soil, the environment? Who knows? In the end, it does not matter, what matters is if you love the wine or not!

With that said, I can say that I have been a long time coming to love these wines. In the past, they tasted like water to me, I did not appreciate their nuances, and I misunderstood their terroir. However, with time and the chances to taste better and better French kosher wines, I have begun to understand the joy of a great Bordeaux or Burgundy.

However, none of us, in the kosher wine drinking world, could have ever been able to do that – without the one of the Godfathers of kosher wine; Pierre Miodownick. I will not repeat the history of M&G and their merging with Royal Wines. If you have not yet had the chance to read about the noble kosher winemaker family, please do – it was a joy to write. Still, what matters is that Pierre was the one who went out and created many great kosher French wines. Think Pontet Canet, Giscours, Leoville Poyferre, and others. All of them were made under the caring eye of Pierre and his teams of professionals. It was with the genius of Pierre and the long reach and funding of Royal that we have the great wines of France in the kosher wine world today.

Now, many will say, well we still do not have the blockbuster wines of France; Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Domaine Romanée Conti, Chateau Cheval Blanc (could not resist another Sideways plug), Chateau Petrus, and many others.

Well, maybe that is true, but there really is not a huge market for 1K+ dollar bottles of wine. There lies the problem. So, if you please, I want to touch on this for a second before we move on to the notes. That being; kosher wine production in France, and the marketplace for it.

Kosher wine in most places around the world is handled by a kosher winery. So, think Herzog Winery, Four Gates WineryNetofa Winery, or any other winery that is 100% kosher. The winery handles all the kosher wine, from the managing of the vines to the bottling of the wines.

Well, France and much to most of Europe and Southern America are very different. There is not enough demand to make an entire winery kosher. Production of Leoville Poyferre itself, is close to 20,000 cases of St. Julien wine per year! Go ahead, try to sell that to the kosher public. Now, I hear you, well make the wine kosher and sell it to the non-kosher market? Right? WRONG!!! That is why I am posting this!

Kosher wine has a TON of requirements, I will not list them here, they are defined on my most read blog post here, and further refined here as well. So, let us agree that kosher wine minimally needs Observant Jews to be handling the wines, well can we agree then that it requires Observant Jews??? What happens when those Jews are not available – AT ALL? Why you ask? What about the Jewish holidays that surround the wine harvest season? What about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Sukkoth? Religious Jews cannot do work – like maintaining a winery on the Festival days (ignoring the in between days of Hol Hamoed). What about, the fact that the workers need to leave for the festival work that is coming up and come back? Travel to and from the winery is not a simple thing – just ask Pierre and his hoards of workers! Bordeaux has a lovely Jewish Community, but they do not LIVE in the winery! They are still commuting and the festivals still start when the moon says so!

So, if we count the days, we are talking Holidays (7 days) + travel days each way. Further there is the availability issue + the push of the cost of those Rabbis showing up and such. Logistics will eventually tell you that as much as Petite Verdot assuredly adds to a wine, there is no way – from a cost perspective that the Rabbis can be there for the picking time of the Merlot, and Cab, and Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc – no way! Why? Because each of those varietals hit their phenolic perfection at different times. Cab Franc is mostly first, PV is a toss up, Merlot is next, and then Cab. Again, this is the common order, but that can change on the whim of a windstorm or a hailstorm or whatever else mother nature throws at the winery.

For each and every picking the Rabbis need to be there to crush the grapes and start the fermentation! That is mad logistics! Those logistics change when a heat wave comes in or leaves! So, the idea of making an entire winery kosher would be suicide. The winery would lose total control of their functioning to the whims of the picking schedule of God! Now, I am all for God and his will, but I am not sure that a 100% kosher winery in France is his will, given the logistics and the costs.

If you ask – what about wineries like Hagafen and Herzog in California, and all the wineries in Israel that are kosher have the problem of Jewish Holidays colliding with harvest dates? To that point I say that yes, they do, and they do not get the chance to pick the grapes at their most optimal times. Talk with kosher wineries – they all say it is crazy stressful and dream about not having these mad restrictions during the most important part of the wine season! That is why I stress that a winery going 100% kosher now after decades or centuries of working the land at their own terms would be a non starter.

Once the grapes are picked and crushed or pressed depending on the varietal and type, things get a bit easier – kosher personnel wise, because technology has been created to minimize the need to interact with the fermenting must on a daily basis. Tanks with large arms that push the must cap down under the liquid are all the rage now and allow winemakers to not worry day-by-day about the goings on with their fermenting juice. Still, the timing and getting the grapes off the vines are complex and worrisome to winery owners.

So, what is left? Special runs of the wine, and that is where the mad genius of Pierre and his team comes into place. Please understand that they, IDS, and many other kosher wine producers, are play chicken with nature, the winery, and the wine, and when a wine like the 2009 Chateau Tertre Daugay is created – it is a huge win for us kosher wine drinkers!

Please understand, that Pierre and his ilk are walking out on a very long plank and created wines hoping that there would be a market in the future. You wonder well why is there no more kosher Leoville Poyferre from after 2005 till the 2011 Moulin Riche? Well, because after all the wine from 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 20003, and 2005 sat unsold – you had to wonder if there was a market! Please remember the SINGLE FACT about the wine biz that matters – it is at least a 3 year investment cycle PER VINTAGE!

You want to make a wine in 1999, you need capital. That wine is made in 1999 but not ready for market for at least 2 to 3 years. If it entails vineyard changes – then we are talking even more investment! Now, to be fair, all of this happened around a massive mess in the markets with folks not being sure of their finances, in 2000 and then in 2008. Still, this is the answer to your question. Why is there still stock of these epic wines around? If there is a market – then maybe there is hope that the Cuveliers will get behind more kosher vintages.

Also, the prices on all of these wines have been rising with epic releases, so three years after the first release of the 1999 wine – which sold slowly, the prices of the non-kosher wines sold very well. That drove the prices up for all of Leoville’s wines, and rightfully so. With each subsequent great release the wine costs rose. Now, Pontet Canet or Leoville have not reached the crazy heights of Lafite and such. Still, it is about the investment, and how much money does Royal or IDS want to leave aging in a barrel room till the wines are ready to sell?

Another aside, the wines made in France are all approved by the wine maker of the winery itself. So sure, Pierre and his buddies make the kosher vintages, but the wines are constantly double checked, and maybe sometimes rejected by the wineries. Whether it is kosher or not – the wine HAS THE WINERY’S label on it! They do not want a wine, with their label, that does not represent their best interests, or their clients!

So, the fact that many of the previous vintages are now FINALLY off the market, allowed kosher wine producers, like Royal or IDS and wineries to start making kosher wines again. Still, till there is a thriving market for kosher French wines in the US and abroad (from France), we will continue to see a dearth of kosher options here in the states.

One of the larger issues revolving around kosher French and European wines, on the whole is the issue of cost. Shockingly, the non-kosher wines from the same winery can at times be half or even less than half the cost of the kosher version. The kosher process for these wines do add a dollar or two to the overall cost, but double the costs of the non-kosher versions is a bit steep. For example – the non-kosher 2012 Chateau Giscours in England goes for 35 or so dollars. Here in the US that same bottle goes for 45 dollars, while the kosher version is more like 100+ dollars. Yes you can find it on discount around passover for less – more like 85 to 90, but that is still double the French version – even after being imported here to the USA.

The reasons for the overrun in cost could be attributed to many a thing; issue of scales, ROI (Return on Investment), and the slight kosher overhead. It is for that reason that when wines like Fourcas can be had for 25 a pop, on the kosher market, you have to run and buy a case. By the way, you can get the non-kosher Fourcas in France and the UK, again for prices ranging from 8 dollars to 12 dollars. Sure, Giscours is a great wine, but the costs for the average man will keep French kosher wines on the fringe, which I think is the exact opposite of what makes France such a great wine producer. If you know the correct wine, there are many great non-kosher options in France that can be enjoyed for far less than 25 dollars.

I hope this post and the notes that follow, and events like KFWE and City Winery – help you to feel more comfortable in the buying and enjoying the wines that define the essence of what wine was and what it can be in the future!

My notes follow below:

2010 Chateau La Clare – Score: B+ (mevushal)
This wine is a blend of 45% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petite Verdot. The wine is mevushal, but the process did not seem to affect this wine as adversely as others. The nose on this wine is rich with nice dirty earth, nice cherry, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows more rich earth, mushroom, nice fruit structure, along with blackberry, black cherry, spice, toast, and rich herb. The finish is long and herbal, with a nice dirty finish, mineral, graphite, slate, with leather, with mouth coating tannin that lingers long on the rise – nice!

2010 Chateau Tour Seran – Score: B (mevushal)
The wine continues to do nothing for me, what can I say – the mevushal shows too much

2012 Chateau Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot and is made from younger vines than the bigger brothers; Moulin Riche and Leoville Poyferre. The nose and mouth show control with lovely dirt and earth and mineral and dark fruit, making for an overall nice wine. The nose on this wine is lovely and rich with dark chocolate, mushroom, herb, spice, dirt, and black fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with great acid, along with layers of mineral, black fruit, blackberry, raspberry, spice, toast, all wrapped in spicy oak and mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and spicy with lovely mineral, dirt, mushroom, acid, tannin, and intense herb, cloves, with hints of leather that will show as it ages and nutmeg. Nice wine!

2012 Chateau Le Crock, Saint-Estephe – Score: B++
Another fine wine for the royal wine company’s french line in 2012. This wine is a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon and 31% Merlot. The Saint Estephe region is dominated by Cabernet, being on the left bank of Bordeaux, and this wine keeps well to that tradition. The nose on this wine is filled with forest floor, mushroom, hints of barnyard, and cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and round with sweet fruit, nice tannin, cedar, cassis, plum, and more dirt. The finish is long and herbal with more sweet notes, bakers chocolate, and sweet herbs. This is a nice enough wine, less complexity than other wines in the 2012 vintage from Royal, but nice enough.

2011 Chateau Rollan de By – Score: B to B+ (mevushal)
This wine was also mevushal and it seems to have pulled this wine down a bit. The nose on this wine shows nice barnyard aromas, with lots of dirt, black and red fruit, and rich spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has nice structure, with nice acid, blackberry, plum, but shows oxidation, and sweet notes. The finish is long and mineral with leather, cooked notes, dirt, and mushroom. It is a shame – would have been nice to see what this wine tastes like that is not mevushal.

2004 Chateau Montviel, Pomerol – Score: A- to A
WOW what a wine! This wine proves that Merlot can indeed make a wonderful wine! This wine is redolent with mushroom, lovely barnyard aromas, dirt, mineral, and dried herbs. The mouth on this full bodied wine is crazy rich and refined with layers upon layers of dirt, mushroom, along with ripe blackcurrant, black plum, cassis, along with green notes, more herb, and crazy tannin that comes at you in layers of lovely fruit, tannin, dirt, toast, and herb, WOW! The finish is long and dirty, with butterscotch, vanilla, leather, crazy dried herbs, and mushroom, herb, dirt, and fruit lingers long with mouth coating tannin – BRAVO!!! My goodness can Merlot crank it when done correctly!

2012 Le Petit Chaban, Bordeaux – Score: N/A (Mevushal)
Sorry this is not a wine I can score, it is one of those examples of a wine that may say French but is a wine that just cannot stand amongst the big boys. Sadly, there are many kosher and non-kosher bad Bordeaux wines and this is one of them. To score this is not possible with the set of flaws that it has. Go somewhere else.

2007 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, Listrac-Medoc – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this wine shows nice dried fruit and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with toast, black fruit, red currant, cherry, dirt, mushroom, and hints of barnyard notes as well. The finish is long and mineral based with chocolate, herb, green notes, and mouth coating tannin. It is a nice wine, but one that could have showed more complexity.

2011 Chateau Haut Condissas, Medoc – Score: A- (and maybe a bit more)
The nose on this wine is rich and redolent with lovely dirt, chocolate, barnyard, earth, mad green notes, and mushroom. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, ripe, and in your face with more chocolate, mad toast, searing tannin, all wrapped in crazy acid, green notes, blackberry, dark cherry, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and spicy, with hits of herb, along with layers of concentrated fruit, leather, vanilla, fig, spice, along with more mineral/earth/dirt/mushroom and roasted herb. WOW! BRAVO!

2013 Les Lauriers de Rothschild – Score: N/A (mevushal)
What can I say of this wine – not for me. Another wine where the mevushal process did not help, but here I think the wine itself was so flawed there was little for it to show.

2011 Baron de Rothschild, Edmond Benjamin – Score: B+ (mevushal)
This wine is also mevushal, but this wine is pretty much the same every year it is made. It does not show cooked flavors, but it goes flat after five years from release, in my experience. This vintage was once again more toast than fruit, with mounds of burnt oak, chocolate, and dried fruit. The medium body was so clearly marred by burnt notes that the fruit had no chance in showing itself, but the structure is there for some of the fruit to come out soon. Sadly, by then the wine may well be on the other side. The finish is long and burnt with spice, blackberry, cherry, and spice.

2012 Chateau Giscours, Margaux, Grand Cru – Score: A- (and more)
What a lovely nose of black and blue fruit, with green notes and vegetation. The mouth on this full bodied wine starts with layers of blue fruit, followed by layer upon layers of concentration, ripe and rich black fruit, blackberry, boysenberry, green notes, bell pepper, more fruit, spice, and spicy oak, all wrapped in layers of rich mouth coating and elegant tannins. The finish is long and sweet with blue fruit, sweet milk chocolate, roasted coffee, cinnamon, and lovely foliage.

2012 Les Roches De Yon-Figeac, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: A- (QPR)
The nose on this lovely second tier wine from the Yon-Figeac winery, is ripe with black fruit, rich loamy dirt, earth, and mineral. The mouth on this full bodied wine is sweet, ripe, and layered with rich concentrated black fruit, blackberry, currants, green olives, saline, lovely green notes, mad mineral, all wrapped in sweet oak and massive mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and mineral, with lush green notes, vegetation everywhere, and graphite that lingers long. BRAVO!!! Great QPR winner.

2011 Chateau Moulin Riche, Saint-Julien (QPR) – Score: A- to A
This is a wine made by the same producer and with the same care as the famed Chateau Leoville Poyferre! The wine may be called a younger sibling or smaller sibling of the Leoville Poyferre Grand Vin, but it is not true in any way! I have now tasted this wine three times, in the short time period of a month, and this wine is ripped and muscled with deep and rich mineral notes that blew my mind along with acid and fruit that makes for a wine that will clearly be around for at least another 10 years.
This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot.

The nose on this black colored wine is lovely and rich with barnyard notes (interesting for such a young wine), graphite, rich mineral, along with fresh black fruit, lovely red fruit, raspberry, and dark cherry that comes together with perfumed sweet herb. The mouth on this crazy rich and layered full bodied wine, comes at you with layers of crazy mouth drying tannin, rich blackberry, cassis, black plum, rich minerality, charcoal, all integrated into the wine’s rich fruit structure making for a wine that can handle anything you throw at it. The finish is rich and long with crazy mineral and fruit, leather, coffee, and roasted herb. BRAVO!!!!

2012 Chateau de Parsac – Score: B (mevushal)
This is another of those lower level wines that are mevushal and not doing well. The wine has nice red fruit and structure, but it is so unbalanced and lacks all aspects of complexity that the best we can call this wine is a very simple quaffer. Still, if you are in deep need maybe this will be an option.

2012 Chateau La Tonnelle, Haut Medoc – Score: NA
This was one of the most unimpressive wines I have tasted so far from the france. The wine was all over the place with cherry fruit and herb, but lacking all semblance of a wine that I can enjoy. Maybe it was a bad bottle.

2009 Chateau Tertre Daugay, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: A- (and more)
Wow what an impressive wine – a wine that is rich and layered and truly captivating. The wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The nose on this wine is filled with rich dirt, earth, lovely hints of barnyard, with red fruit showing cherry, and roasted herb. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and attacking with concentrated fruit, but elegant at the same time, approachable, with a rich body, dirt, blackberry, currant, forest floor, intense spice, and tons of mouth coating tannin that come at you and do not stop. The finish is long and super spicy, with intense graphite, chocolate, leather, and cloves that linger long. BRAVO!!!!!

2012 Chateau Rollan de By – Score: B+ (mevushal)
This wine was also mevushal and it seems to have pulled this wine down a bit. The nose on this wine shows nice barnyard aromas, with lots of dirt, red fruit, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has nice structure, with nice acid, layers of dirt, plum, raspberry, and sweet oak. The finish is long, though it shows cooked notes, along with dirt and mushroom. It is a shame – would have been nice to see what this wine tastes like that is not mevushal.

2011 Chateau La Clare – Score: B+ (mevushal)
The wine is mevushal, but the process did not seem to affect this wine as adversely as others. The nose on this wine is rich with nice dirty earth, hints of barnyard, loamy dirt, and dark cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows more rich earth, mushroom, nice fruit structure, along with raspberry, currant, toast, and nice mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and mineral, with a nice dirty finish, mineral, graphite, and slate – nice!

2011 Chateau Tour Seran – Score: B (mevushal)
Sadly the 2011 vintage still has not done it for me. The wine continues to do nothing for me, what can I say – the mevushal shows too much.

2010 Fourcas Dupre, Listric – Medoc – Score: A- (CRAZY QPR)
I have to say, I never add price into my notes, and to be sure, this one is no different, but a year ago I thought this wine was not ready to play, this year it was awesome! Also, the price never defines the scores I give, but it is a huge component to my QPR score – and in this case this wine is a 100% NO BRAINER!

The nose on this wine is lovely with rich dirt, nice mushroom, hints of barnyard, and lovely black dirt. Sure 2009 was the year of Bordeaux, but 2010 was still a very good vintage and this wine is a great example! The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is lovely with rich saline, nice spice, lovely blackberry, along with crazy mushroom, mouth coating tannin, and layers of fruit and earth and forest floor that come at you and do not give up. The finish is long, with balancing acid, more earth, dirt, rich dark cherry, plum, cranberry, and lovely mineral/graphite. The fruit and mineral lingers long – BRAVO!!!!

2012 Chateau Siaurac, Lalande de Pomerol – Score: A-
Siaurac makes up about 113 acres of planted vines (clay and gravel), and 37 acres of rolling hills. The wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

The nose on this beautiful wine is redolent with lovely dirt, earth, hints of barnyard, and rich mushroom. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich with mouth coating tannin, along with a great attack of red and black berry fruit, good balancing acid, and nice funk that is supported by good fruit structure and sweet oak. The finish is long and mineral, with graphite, rock, black olives, cloves, herb, and leather – BRAVO!!

2011 Chateau le Colonne, LaLande De Pomerol – Score: A-
Another rich and dirty Merlot wine, man there have been some really good ones recently – both 2005, 2011 and 2012. The nose on this lovely wine is rich with dirt, earth, along with mushroom, and green herb. The mouth on this full bodied beast, is round and rich, with layers and good intensity, nice acid and tannin that come together with great spice, blackcurrant, along with layers of dirt, mineral, mushroom, all wrapped in hints of barnyard, forest floor, and oak. The finish is long and earthy, with more dirt, leather, chocolate, vanilla, graphite, and spices. BRAVO!!!

2012 Butcher’s Daughter – Score: B+
I do not have great notes on this wine, but it is a nice enough wine with good fruit structure, nice earth, and body with mineral backing, good acid, herb, green notes, and tannin.

2012 Grand Theatre, Bordeaux – Score: B+
This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The nose on this wine is nice and red and round with green notes, raspberry, cherry, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and round with soft integrated tannin, nice fruit structure, dark cherry, currant, forest floor, mushroom, and ripping acid. The finish is long and spicy, with hints of chocolate and herb. Nice

2012 Chateau Marquis de Greyssac, Bordeaux – Score: B+
This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose on this wine is ripe with cherry notes and green foliage. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ok with nice green notes, herb, dark cherry, good tannin, herb, and ok fruit structure. The finish is long with red fruit, herb, dirt, and nice mineral.

2010 Chateau Laforet, Bordeaux – Score: B+
This is a nice wine that needs time to open, after an hour or two the wine was really ready to play. The wine is simple but nice, with good dirt, currant, cherry, mineral, and graphite.

2005 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande De Pomerol  – Score: A-
This is a lovely wine, rich and layered with extraction and lovely dirt. The nose on this lovely wine shows rich dirt, plum, dried herb, lovely mineral, and saline. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and layered with crazy mouth coating tannin, along with nice fruit structure, currant, green notes, more dirt, and rosemary. The finish is long and dirty, with nice raspberry, chocolate, and barnyard. BRAVO!

2010 Chateau d’Arveyres, Bordeaux Superieur – Score: B+ to A- (mevushal) (QPR)
This is a wine I have tasted many times and is now my goto mevushal French wine. The nose on this wine is rich with dirt, cherry, dried herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine starts off with an attack of blackberry, herb, candied raspberry, searing tannin, along with coffee, and spicy oak. The finish is long with more spice, candied fruit, cloves, crushed herb, dried oregano, tart fruit, along with mounds of mineral, graphite, and leather. Lovely!

2011 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande De Pomerol  – Score: A-
This is a lovely wine, rich and layered with extraction and barnyard that hits you in a weird way for such a young wine. The nose on this lovely wine shows rich dirt, barnyard, mineral, forest floor, and herb. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and layered with crazy mouth coating, almost searing tannin, along with a nice fruit structure, tart raspberry, currant, green notes, cherry, and plum. The finish is long with sweet and tart fruit, along with lingering tannin, leather, coffee, and lovely mineral. Very Nice!

2013 Pascal Bouchard Chablis – Score: B++
The nose of this unoaked Chardonnay is lovely with tart fruit, earthy mineral, lemon tart, and citrus joy. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is free of oak, with a slightly hollow middle, showing nicely with nectarine, orange, tangerine, peach, and summer fruit. The finish is long and refreshing with lovely pith, tart fruit, spice, mineral, and cloves. Nice

2012 Domaine Lafond Tavel, Bokobsa – Score: B+ to A-
This is the best Tavel I have tasted by far and one that is worthy of your time to find it. The wine has organic on it, from a European perspective, but it will not be on the USDA label because that would require ZERO added sulfites, which is suicide for a wine. With that said, the vines are organically grown and the wine has a very minimal addition of sulfites, of 150 mg (or 150 ppm), and may even be less than that.

The nose on this cherry colored wine is beautiful with cherry notes, green foliage, slate, and rock. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts with lovely acid, followed by earth, dirt, quince, currant, herb, lovely pith and spice. The finish is long and bitter with orange pith, spiced strawberry, summer fruit compote, and lovely herbs with eucalyptus lingering long – BRAVO!!!

2012 Roger Moreux, Sancerre, Chavignol, Bokobsa – Score: A- (and then some)
Well, the one bottle of the 2007 that I ever tasted was obviously a bad bottle. My friends who had subsequent bottles raved about it. Well, the 2012 should be available soon and it too is rocking! BRAVO!

The nose on this wine is insane, so redolent and perfumed with mad saline, earthy mineral, spice, lovely honey notes, melon, and quince. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is viscous and rich with spices galore, tart fruit, lovely acid, spiced sweet pink grapefruit, with nectarine, lemon citrus, tangerine, kiwi, gooseberry, and nutmeg. The finish is long and spicy with tart fruit, saline, mineral, slate, and endless tart fruit lingering long with hints of pith. BRAVO!!!

2012 Giersberger Pinot Grigio – Score: B+
The nose is the star of this wine, with lovely mineral, saline, and peach. The nose on this wine shows a fair amount of residual sugar, but also nicely balanced with good acid, grapefruit, peach, along with a nice rich body, guava, and melon. The finish is long and tart with nice acid.

2012 Giersberger Gewurtztraminer – Score: B+
The nose on this wine is the clear star, with a crazy perfume of pineapple, pink grapefruit, and melon. The mouth on this full bodied wine is mostly dry with less acid than the Pinot Grigio, but backed by a crazy oily and sweet fruit mouth, nice mineral, along with candied fig, petrol, hints of soap, and spice. The finish is long and oily with peach, apricot, lingering long with mineral and orange pith – NICE!!

2012 Giersberger Riesling – Score: B++
The nose again is the star of this wine, with sweet notes of melon, kiwi, guava, nectarine, and lovely floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is sweet with ripe fruit, that almost feels like residual sugar, but well balanced with crazy acid, rich lemon, lime, mandarin orange, all wrapped in an almost oily texture, with rich mineral, and spice. The finish is long with more crazy acid, more sweet notes, slate, and nice spice.

2012 Vignobles David Les Masques, Chateauneuf-du-Pape – Score: A- to A (maybe higher)
This wine may well be the best kosher CDP (Chateauneuf-du-pape) on the market and is better than its older 2011 vintage! It is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 5% Syrah all from very old vines.

The nose on this wine is screaming with blueberry, blackberry, sweet boysenberry, sweet spices, along with ripe mineral and graphite. The mouth on full bodied wine is crazy rich, layered, concentrated and full of intense ripe black and blue fruit, rich raspberry, and intense spice, with massive sweet and mouth coating tannin that sticks to your mouth long after the wine is gone. The finish is jammy and fruity, with fantastic control, impressive, with layers of rich tannin, spice, root beer, tart and sweet watermelon, that comes at you in an intense attack and does not let up, truly impressive. The finish ends with sweet spice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and hints of white fruit – BRAVO truly an impressive wine!

2011 Vignobles David Reserve – Score: A- (QPR)
We last spoke about Vignobles David, owned and operated by Fred David and his wonderful wines. At that time I was lucky to taste the 2010 reserve and since then have tasted that wine a few times and it continues to blow me away for its unbelievably good QPR. It also strikes me as one of the better French kosher wines out there, especially for the price.

The new 2011 vintage is composed of 40% Syrah, and 60% Grenache, also known by the folks in the know, as GS, an acronym stemming from the first letter of the 2 varietals used in this blend. This bright purple colored wine steps up and slaps you across the head with a crazy rich and heady nose of blackcurrant, bramble, rich oak, roasted meat, freshly brewed espresso, spice, raspberry, blackberry, and tar. This wine shows a super rich, full-bodied, yet bright mouth with mouth coating tannin, rich extraction, along with focused concentration of fruit, all coming together into a truly earthy, fruity, meaty mouth. The finish is richly spiced with layers of more coating tannin, soft leather, tar, black fruit, rich minerality, espresso and oak. Quite a lovely wine that is not another big and black Syrah, rather this is a lovely balanced GS that shows its richly spiced and terroir driven roots in more ways than one.

NV Drappier Carte d’Or, Brut – Score: A- (and more) (Mevushal)
This is the second of two Drappier wines that Royal is releasing. We tasted the other one – Carte Blance and liked that one very much. The wine is a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes: 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. The nose on the light gold and salmon colored wine is starts off with yeast, nice mineral, bright lemon, apple, brioche, cherry, and toast. The mouth on the medium bodied wine starts off with a crazy attack of insane small mousse bubbles, with layer after layer of white peach, strawberry, brioche, raspberry, mineral, and spice. The finish is long with tart fruit, crazy acid, dried quince, and more toast lingering.

NV Drappier Carte Blanche, Brut – Score: A- (and more) (mevushal)
The wine is a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes: 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. The nose light gold colored wine is explosive with rich toast, fluffy white chocolate, herb, grapefruit, quince jam, strawberry, malting yeast, and minerality. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super rich with an energizer bunny small bubble mousse, more toast and brioche, nice yeast, rich herb, super bright and tart green apple that mellows down to a creamy apple sauce, along with mad acid, herb, grapefruit, and mineral. The finish is long and rich with more small bubble mousse, herb, more yeast, and mineral. This is a lovely and balanced wine that does like more time in the glass. Even better leave a few glasses of wine in the bottle, cap it with a normal cork and try it the next day – quite lovely!

2012 Domaine l’Or De Line, Chateauneuf du Pape – Score: A-
The last time I enjoyed this wine, it was the 2007 vintage, but that was the white wine, this is the red one. Thankfully, they have once again created a good CDP. Here is a nice and simple write-up about the winery and the name, anyway, on to the note.

The nose on this purple colored wine is hopping with rich dirt, loam, mineral, root beer, sweet chocolate, and boysenberry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with blue fruit, mineral, cherry, spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more sweet spices. The wine is more elegant than overly complex, the wine is layered but does not grab you as much as it impresses you. The finish is long and spicy with nice fruit structure, watermelon, summer fruits, peach, coming on the long and refreshing rise with warm spices and nice tannin.

Posted on April 16, 2015, in Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

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