The French Connection – kosher wine style
I must be honest, it has been too long, that is all on me. I have been taking notes for four months, but I have been very slow to post, so I am sorry. With my Mea Culpe aside, here are my notes on three wine tastings I did revolving around kosher French wines.
I recently came back from NYC where I was privy to enjoy many great French wines, with a few Cali and Israeli thrown in for diversity. The focus of the trip was a party with my friends, but without my knowledge, it turned into an insane French wine tasting fest – that I truly must thank those involved, IC, and JS.
The first tasting was insane, we tasted 22 wines from France, California, and two token Israeli wines (both of which were so overshadowed by the french and Cali that it is almost a waste of virtual ink to talk about them in comparison). The French were epic, the few California (Four gates and Hajdu) were great, the lone Spanish was lovely, and as for the previously stated two Israeli wines, one was date juice, and the other was OK.
Shortly after landing I made my way to EL (thank you my man!), and then later to the home where the event was taking place, to help with setting up, and “unofficially”, to start tasting what was open! The hilarious part was we got to taste things that were not even on the menu, including a wine I had only tasted once before, the 2009 Capcanes Peraj Habib, a wine that Jay Miller (of Wine Advocate) had called/scored the best kosher wine, at that point, in 2011.
So, the first two wines we tasted were both epic, the 2009 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, and some 2001 Chateau Leoville Poyferre. These were both normal format wines, but as you continue to read through this post, many of the wines I tasted were in either magnum (1.5L double a normal bottle), double magnum (3L four times a normal bottle), and a Jeroboam to boot!
Wine Bottle Formats and the effect they produce
Wines do age better in larger format bottles. So, if the 2005 Elvi EL26 in magnum is crazy good for an entire day (which it was maybe even more), then you can rest assured that in the 750ml format it is just fine. This also reiterates what a couple of people have told me of that wine, it is showing beautifully, even in the normal format bottle size.
Basically, air is a wine’s kryptonite – the more it gets exposed to, the weaker it becomes. Look at a typical bottle you have, the amount of air at the top is pretty small, it is called ullage. The ullage or space between the cork and the wine is filled with oxygen, the very thing that humans depend on to survive every day is what kills wine over its life. A hilarious aspect no? The very thing that we geeks crave, wine, is killed by the very thing that we need to survive! Anyway, the larger the bottle the smaller the percentage that the ullage makes up, in comparison to the wine in the bottle. The ulage will grow over time, as wine dissipates through the cork, but if the wine is kept in a safe and temperate location, the ullage is not the death knell to a wine. Time and air, in combination is what kills a wine.
Another aside, please do not age useless wines! Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, speaking about the world of non-kosher wines noted, that only around the top 10 percent of all red wine and top 5 percent of all white wines can improve significantly enough with age to make drinking more enjoyable at 5 years of age than at 1 year of age. Additionally, Robinson estimates, only the top 1 percent of all wine has the ability to improve significantly after more than a decade.
In the world of kosher wine, those numbers are far smaller. I doubt there is 1% of kosher wines that can age for 5 to 10 years, no chance. Now, the wines that I buy, are probably 5% or less of all the kosher wines out there. The ones that can age for 10 years are very small indeed. That said, some of the wines on that list can age for 3 to 5 years, but they are close to peak already and will stay there for a bit more. Single Vineyard Herzog and the reserve cabs, Four Gates wines, Capcanes, Flam, Tzora, Netofa, Gvaot, Castel are wineries who make wines that need time to truly enjoy. Covenant, Hajdu, and Shirah are another example of wineries that make great wines, but while they are age worthy, they also make them so that they can be enjoyed from the time of bottling, which is very cool.
Anyway, back to large format wines. The larger the bottle the smaller the air that can affect the wine in it. Also, the larger the bottle, the harder it is for temperature fluctuations to damage the wine. So, the smaller the air, the longer a wine can age before either air or the chemical makeup of the wine do it in. The larger the bottle, the more time the wine has to mature, giving the wines a different taste than in smaller format bottles. It would be a mistake to think that larger format bottles actually change the wine, instead the point is that they stop negative effects from changing the wine faster than in smaller formats. So, after a few years, the wine is a larger format bottle should taste different than one in a smaller one. So, large bottles will age better and longer, and tend to be more robust, and more resistant to temperature irregularities.
Also, smaller format bottles do the opposite. The smaller bottles have more air to wine ratio and therefore they are not for long aging at all. They are only useful, IMHO, for nice gifts, and for restaurants that sell them for people eating alone, who do not want to drink an entire 750ml bottle of wine.
There were tons of great wines, mostly French, and there were also a few very special tastings, so I want to call them out here.
There was the complete vertical of all the kosher non-mevushal Valandraud, 2001 through 2005 inclusive. There have been Virginie and lower labels from Valandraud since 2005, but none of the higher end Valandraud wines. Of the 5, the 03 and the 05 were the clear winners, with the others being nice. The 2004 vintage has potential, but I am not sure it ever gets there.
Leoville Poyferre made kosher vintages from 1999 to 2005, excluding the lone 2004 vintage where Royal made no kosher vintage. So of the six wines that are kosher, we had four of them, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2003.
Finally, we had a few of the most highly prized wines out there, including the 2000 and 2009 Smith Haut Lafitte, one of those crazy trophy wines in the kosher wine world. Along with the 2001 Lafon-Rochet, another one of those rare wines.
So, the wines listed here will be depicted with either magnum, or double magnum, or smaller, where needed, otherwise, they are all normal format wines.
The wine notes follow – my many thanks to the hosts of the wine events where these wines were tasted. The wines are scored in the order they were enjoyed:
2009 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib – Score: A- to A
What a nose, intoxicating and redolent with smoke, toast, roasted animal, rich blue fruit, loamy earth, and tar. The mouth on this full body wine lives up to expectations, with rich mouth coating tannin, draping and elegant, with rich extraction and lovely pencil shavings. The mouth shows rich mineral that gives way to charcoal, mushroom, hints of barnyard, with layers of concentrated dark fruit, blackberry, dark cherry, currant, and rich black tea. The finish is long and extracted with tobacco, more mouth-coating mineral, and focus that really shows the impressive potential of Spanish wine to be as old world as French wine with a new world twist, bravo!!
2001 Chateau Leoville Poyferre – Score: A- to A
Lovely dirty nose of mushroom and barnyard followed by Brett and dirt with black fruit and raspberry. The mouth oh this full bodied wine is rich and layered and impressively concentrated with great acid and mouth coating tannin that is both mineral and dirty, with lovely blackberry and dark cherry that is loamy and focused with herb and lovely tobacco with mounds of leather and roasted herb on a long and earthy finish. Lovely and elegant with another five years in the tank. Look for more mushroom and barnyard and rich tar.
Nv Bosson Ponson Champagne (magnum format) – Score: A-
Lovely dry nose of dry fruit, green apple, yeast and peach with dry Asian pear. Nice old world wine with dry quince and nice apple that gives way to dried grass, straw, and herb. Mouth filling with great small mousse bubbles, focused and rich mousse. Long and bubbly fresh finish with great herb and mineral, herb saline.
2013 Chateau d’Esclans Cuvée Garrus (magnum format) – Score: B+ to A-
This is a wine that is massively hyped but not worth very much of it. Lovely dirty nose with saline and herb, sur lie notes with funk. Nice full body mouth with great weight showing herb, dry straw, raspberry and currant, with great mineral. In the end, the wine is unique from its mouth feel and weight from being aged in oak, but at this point, the little bit of fruit that was there has given way to the just acid and funk, sad.
2007 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A-
The nose on this gold colored wine is rich with smokey notes, bright fruit, and pineapple. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with sweet notes, confectionary, butterscotch, caramel, oriental spices, cedar sweet, white peach, and apple. The finish is long and spicy with green notes and white flowers and quince. Nice!
2002 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: NA
2001 Chateau Barrail de Zede (jeroboam format) – Score: A-
Dirty stink with barnyard and loam, with mounds of brett and earth. Nice full body wine with crazy dirt and extraction with layers of elegance and rich dark fruit, currant with layers of green notes and ripe blackcurrant and nice roasted herb but focused with ripe cherry and dirt. Long and earthy finish with ripe blackberry, leather and lovely spices and more barnyard on the long finish with tannin now balanced and rich.
2001 Chateau Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – Score: A-
Lovely nose of dirt and mushroom and barnyard, with dark fruit and green notes abound, herb menthol and mint. The mouth is medium bodied with good balance and structure, with nice fruit expression and elegance, with ripe plum and black fruit. The structure is ripe and alive but the tannins are gone with nice earth. Long and earthy finish, with barnyard and not much more.
2002 Chateau Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – Score: A-
Another wine that is barnyard focused, with dark fruit, blackberry, and sour cherry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is dirtier than the 01, with great acid and ripe blackberry, with dirt galore and good concentration, great tannin that is extracted and layered, makes you take notice, showing rich fruit but elegant with lovely loam. The finish is shorter and interesting, the tannin lingers long but the fruit falls off.
2003 Chateau Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – Score: A- to A
The second best of the vertical. This is an awesome, well-aged merlot, a truly hedonistic wine, screaming with green notes, foliage, barnyard, menthol, with herb and rich dark fruit. Wow, what a wine bravo, filthy, sick and intense but elegance with power and crazy extraction, that is ripe and extracted with dark plum, blackberry, cassis, and rich green notes with herb and lovely spice that is richly concentrated, bravo. The finish on this medium bodied wine is rich with tar, rich earth, leather and insane fruit, raspberry jam and lovely green notes. Bravo!!
2004 Chateau Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – Score: A-
Impressive nose but very ripe with but with good control and focus, showing menthol and ripe black fruit. This wine is ripe, not doubt about it, but showing lovely focus, nice barnyard, blackberry, plum, green notes, roasted herb, and dirt. Nice finish and barnyard with hints of secondary notes, balanced well with impressive acid, still not fully integrated tannin and intense structure, leather, and more ripe fruit.
2005 Chateau Valandraud, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – Score: A
To start this was the best of the tasting and the score is not one I give out very often. What a rich nose, bravo, green and black and barnyard all wrapped in sheer elegance and foliage with mint and basil. The wine is intense and insane with extraction galore, that gives way to a full-bodied and rich wine with ripe fruit, and layers galore that are balanced and ripe with blackberry, cassis, incredible mineral graphite, complex and rich with much more mineral and charcoal that show in the 05 over the 03, with complexity that is incredible, and lingers long with graphite, earth, that is based deeply in earth and barnyard and green notes that are perfectly balanced, impressive. BRAVO!!
2009 Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Bello Ridge – Score: A- to A
The fruit for this lovely old-world Cabernet comes from Betchart Vineyard on Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I have been able to watch this progress from press to bottling, and it has gone from a rich red fruit wine to a hybrid rich old-world wine with big red fruit along with some lovely black fruit.
The wine has evolved a bit from my last tasting. Still, this is a unique Cabernet that is rich, extracted, balanced, yet oak influenced in a lovely manner, this is not a big black new world Cabernet!
The nose on this purple to black colored wine, with blue streaks through it is screaming with cloves, graphite, kirsch cherry, raspberry, blackberry, red fruit, tobacco, mint, and anise. The mouth on the full-bodied brute of a wine is super rich, extracted, layered, and concentrated, with nice black and red forest berry, ribbons of blueberry, plum, currant, eucalyptus, and green bell pepper, all wrapped up in a cedar box filled with spice and still big round and mouth coating tannin that makes for a rich and spicy mouthfeel. The finish is long, lovely, smoke, with rich extraction, intense tar, and spicy with more tannin, chocolate, tobacco, cinnamon, red fruit, black pepper, and a nice hit of vanilla. The chocolate, oak, tar, smoke, herbs, red fruit, and vanilla linger long. The wine is starting to open but still needs time. I would start drinking it within the year and then finish it by 2021. BRAVO!!
2007 Yatir Forest – Score: B
All I wrote was date juice.
2007 Barkan Merlot, Superieur – Score: B+
Nice mineral and barnyard in the nose with nice cherry and dirt with sweet notes. The mouth is medium with sweet notes, and ripe fruit but nice acid and herb. The finish is leather and tobacco with sweet dill.
2005 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib (magnum format) – Score: A-
Lovely nose of crazy black fruit, rich dirt, and barnyard. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich with layers of fruit, followed by herb and mushroom, all wrapped in an inky structure with layers of chocolate and searing tannin and dirt, showing currant, blackberry and raspberry, and hints of blue fruit. The finish is long and acidic, with dirt, mushroom, nice fruit, and green notes. Leather, barnyard, mineral, and graphite lingers.
2007 Brobdingnagian Syrah – Score: A- to A
If you have read my posts about this wine, the last one I had was bottled in a Bordeaux-style bottle. That said the notes I took were very close to the ones I had in 2014. This wine is holding well and could be at peak, with another two years in its sea-legs.
2005 Elvi Wines EL26 (magnum format) – Score: A- to A
This is a wine I crave, smoke, earth, mushroom and barnyard with green notes and deep black fruit. The mouth starts off with crazy mineral and intense acid at the start but the wine is a bit off balance for me as the wine is pure mineral to start with unbalanced acid, then ripe fruit and searing tannin, and then crazy ripe fruit at the end that is in the end nice but all over the place. However, I tasted it again later in the night and then the next day, and that wine had come into perfect balance. It needs time to open in it magnum format. The finish is long with blackberry, mineral, charcoal, tar, and ripe fruit with tannin and crazy acid. Bravo!!
Woke up and it was pretty much time to do another tasting. This time of many of the IDS wines available, along with some of the new EPIC 2012 DRC wines (Domaine Roses Camille). Clearly, some of these wines were stored poorly, not the Echo or the Camille wines, but others were, as described below.
2005 Falesco Ferentano, Lazio – Score: B to B+
The wine is made of 100% Roscetto. The nose is lovely with baked apple, and caramel, with nice mature notes, pineapple, showing baked Asian pear, and good spice. The mouth is full bodied and golden, with still good acid, showing a mature palate with nice acid, cloves, and solid fruit structure, showing impressive quality for the age, with butterscotch, caramel, and secondary notes, with acid, sweet oak, white pepper, and toast coming on the end. Drink UP! Open it and drink within the hour at most!
2010 Chateau Tour Du Bosquay, Bordeaux Superieur – Score: B+ to A-
The wine is made of 100% Merlot. The nose is very smoky with black fruit, dirt, menthol, mushroom, and good herb.The mouth is medium bodied, with nice earth and spice, showing good acid and blackcurrant, but the acid is too extreme for now, but with time it will mellow and come together in a nicer way. The finish is long and very green, with foliage, menthol, basil, green onion, all coming together with nice spices and spicy toasty oak.
2011 Chateau de Valois, Pomerol – Score: NA
Nice ripe nose, with sweet notes, showing stewed notes with ripe blackberry, plum, and really nice dirt and earth. Medium bodied wine that is showing age, with nice dirt, but the notes are stewed and green, with nice herb. Long and spicy but cooked. This may have been a bad bottle.
2011 Virginie de Valandraud – Score: A-
This wine is 100% Merlot. Nice old world nose, with really good barnyard, mushroom, good terroir, showing nice dark fruit, raspberry, and green notes. The mouth is nice and young with crazy earth, mad green notes, almost showing green onion, with ripping acid and mineral, showing nice pencil shavings, with blackberry, spice, oak, and nice charcoal. The finish is long and earthy with green notes dominating and red cherry lingering.
2011 La Tour de By – Score: B+ to A-
This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 5% Petite Verdot (“according to the label”). This is riper than I expected with dark berry, cherry, and almost forest fruits. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe and full in the mouth – riper than I would like with good acidity and spice, with dark plum, and nice spices. The finish is long and spicy with green notes, earth, mushroom, and good spice.
2011 Chateau Leydet – Valentin, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: A-
The nose is very earthy and dirty, old world, with nice mushroom, elegance, with raspberry, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe, with lovely mineral, pencil, focused with nice acid and balance, great green notes, foliage all giving way to earth and loamy dirt. The finish is long and green with nice spice, with tar, nice roasted herb, and great mineral. Bravo!
2000 Chateau Barrail de Zede – Score: NA
Either the bottle was bad or this wine is toast
2001 Chateau Haut Condissas – Score: NA
The bottle was clearly stored in a poor manner. This is a wine I have had a few times and this poorly stored bottle, from what I can tell. The proof is the next note, from a second bottle we opened after this disaster.
2001 Chateau Haut Condissas – Score: A-
After the disaster that was the first bottle we opened, we opened another one using a coravin, and these are the notes. The wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, and 20% Petite Verdot(“according to the label”). What a nose, pure barnyard, with blackberry, raspberry, and more mushroom. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered with great barnyard, dark fruit, blackberry, candied plum, raspberry, and nice green notes, and foliage. The finish is long and green, with mushroom, roasted herb, good spices and green notes. Bravo!
2002 Chateau Haut Condissas – Score: A- to A
This wine is a blend 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and 20% Petite Verdot (“according to the label”). What a pretty wine, bravo, so elegant, lovely with great mushroom, controlled, with green notes, herb, spice, white pepper, barnyard, and black fruit. The mouth on this full bodied is layered and crazy spiced, with layers of mushroom, mineral, and spice, with loads of green notes, foliage, with blackberry, cassis, raspberry, and herb. This wine is at its perfect level, with great spice, green notes galore, herb, and red fruit galore. Lovely!
2010 Gevrey-Chambertin, Damien Gachot-Monot – Score: B+ to A-
I had really high hopes for this wine, sadly it was not meant to be. Nice and earthy, with ripe notes, mounds of sweet oak, cedar, with black cherry, and nice spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe cherry juice, with nice cloves, mouth coating tannin, and great spice, nice but it is too candied and ripe. The finish is long and spicy but it is hollow in ways, with great spice, and good earth.
2014 Domaine d’Ardhuy Ladoix “Les Combottes” – Score: A-
This wine is crazy tight and needed two hours to get it to a place where you can understand its potential, but it is not a wine for drinking for 3 years at least. The nose on this wine is pure elegance, jammy, pure confectionery spices, showing like a cherry cinnamon bun, with dark fruit, rich earth, candied cherry, and lovely roasted herbs. The mouth is rich and layered, ripping with crazy mouth drying and puckering tannin, with rich layers of mineral, graphite, earth, with mushroom blooming in the background, with nice blackcurrant, cloves, and nice spice. The finish is long and earthy with dirt, spice, and mouth coating tannin that lingers long with green notes, mushroom, and spice. BRAVO!!! 2019 to 2024
2012 Echo de Roses Camille – Score: A-
The wine needs a few hours of decanting, and then it is almost there. The nose on this wine is ripe, with really nice dirt, earth, showing ripe cherry, with raspberry, hints of dragon fruit, and mushroom starting to show with earth and green notes. The mouth is shockingly not Echo right now, it shows more like a refined Israeli Cabernet than an Echo, with sweet oak, sweet fruit focus of raspberry jam, black plum, and currants, but backed by an incredible mineral, earth, and rich tannin core, that gives way to mouth draping tannin and lovely acid. The finish is long and tannic with earth, sweet notes, raspberry liqueur, tropical notes, and rich earth and leather. Drink from 2017 to 2024
2012 Domaine de Rose Camille – Score: A- to A
Sheer elegance in a glass, this wine is so young it should not be looked at for at least another 4 years. The nose is rich and earthy, with hints of mushroom, and rich dirt and deep fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is filled with great currant, candied strawberry, along with nice dirt, spice, oak, and rich layers of green foliage and blackcurrant, black cherry – they give way to mineral, pencil, and great focus all underpinned by a core of acid and more mineral. The finish is long and spicy with great acid, mouth draping and elegant tannin, cocoa, tar, charcoal, and tobacco, wrapped in leather and spice. Bravo! Drink from 2020 till 2026.
The first wines were all 375ml format wines, that were also old wines. That combination is not normally a good thing, and in this case – there were mostly no exceptions to the above-stated rule, except for the la clare.
2005 Chateau la Clare (375ml format) – Score: B+
Dirty and mushroom nice. Nice mouth with crazy acid and mouth-coating tannin with great structure and really nice spice and dirt and earth. Nice leather and tobacco
2005 Chateau Moulin de Noaillac (375ml format) – Score: NA
2003 Chateau Labegorce Zede (375ml format) – Score: NA
2003 Domaine du Castel (375ml format) – Score: NA
2003 Rollan de By (375ml format) – Score: NA
Earth and cranberry. Oxidizing sadly
2003 chateau Haut Condissas le Cadet (375ml format) – Score: NA
Beautiful old world wow, and mevushal. Cooked and stewed drink up
Next we tasted 750 ml wines that were older and less established, most were not very good, but fun to taste still.
2000 Rashi Barolo – Score: NA
I remember this wine from a long time ago, and it was practically dead then, nothing has changed there.
2001 Chateau Tour Seran – Score: NA
Cherry cola with mushroom and chocolate.
1997 Chateau de Callac – Score: NA
2001 Domaine Lacassagne – Score: NA
1995 Chateau du Quint Lalande de Pomerol – Score: NA
2001 Chateau Vegas – Score: NA
2001 Chateau Rollan de By – Score: B+ to A-
Lovely nose with chocolate and such earth, barnyard, cranberry, and good spice. Nice mouth on this full bodied wine with great acid, with mushroom, nIce chocolate, rich earth, barnyard and raspberry with chalk and very lively tannin. Long finish with mineral and great spice.
Then came the wines that really were crazy and highly impressive.
1999 Chateau Haut Breton Larigaudiere, Margaux – Score: B+ to A-
Dirty, smelly, with nice earth and mushroom. Nice body with good acid and great blackberry and spice, complex and herb and spice with chocolate and roasted herb and mushroom. Drink up or dead.
2000 Chateau Malmaison – Score: NA
Nice but a bit lacking, with spice and herb. Dead
2000 Chateau Tetre Dugay – Score: NA
Ripe nose with chocolate and nice mushroom and spice and nice structure but flat, dead
1999 Chateau Leoville Poyferre – Score: A-
Lovely nose of mushroom and ripe raspberry and cherry with dirty and real sweet oak. Lovely medium-bodied wine showing great draping tannin, searing acid, and attack that is focused with spice and blackberry and cherry. Long and spicy finish, with great mushroom and earth and chocolate and dirt. Wow! Drink by 2019.
2000 Filius de Chateau Patris – Score: NA
Lovely old world nose wine with great cherry and red fruit, with dark currant and flint. The mouth is nice but not great, fading with great acid and tannin but not much else.Oxidizing sad with chocolate.
2000 Chateau Labegorce Zede – Score: A-
The nose on this wines shows nice mushroom and great red fruit. The mouth on this wine is medium bodied, showing great tannin, a bit of acid, nice dark fruit, raspberry with great scrapping mineral, graphite, with awesome mouth coating tannin, earth, and dirt. Bravo with tobacco and leather scrapping.
2001 Chateau Lafon Rochet, Saint Estephe – Score: A-
Lovely and intoxicating nose with insane dirt and graphite, with some mushroom, herb, and green notes, with ripe black fruit. Wow, what a mouth, crazy intense mouth drying tannin, with chocolate, showing ripe fruit, blackberry, currant and green notes, bell pepper with mineral core that is focused, crazy extraction, still not integrating, with graphite and green foliage that makes it so elegant and rich.Impressive. Long and green finish, with chocolate and herb, along with still draping tannin that lingers and is concentrated and grabbing. Bravo and drink by 2018.
2000 Chateau Gruaud-Larose ‘Sarget de Gruaud-Larose’, Saint-Julien – Score: A-
Impressive, this wine shows even more green notes than the Lafon Rochet, with herb and foliage, along with red fruit and hints of dark fruit. Nice full body and extracted with attack and focus of fruit, rich with crazy tannin, lovely rich tar, coffee, and earth, with ripping mineral core, green notes abound that give way to earth, fruit, and elegance. The finish is long and elegant, with epic mouth draping attack and fruit core. Impressive. Drink by 2020
2000 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan – Score: A- to A
Wow, what a focused nose, insane, with dark fruit, blackberry, cherry, vanilla, and herb. Wow what a dark fruit wine, without being close to ripe, rich and herbed, black currant, with chocolate and mouth drying tannin, rich mineral core, the most ripe of the lineup bit you cannot notice it, with focus that is mind blowing, but gives way to oak and ripping mineral focus. Long and mineral finish that is impressive and power that is followed by chocolate and vanilla and oak. Incredible!
2001 Chateau Leoville Poyferre – Score: A- to A
The most elegant of the lineup with dirty notes, mushroom with hints of barnyard, blackberry, plum, and currant. This is all about elegance, with mouth coating tannin, showing great attack and focus but perfectly balanced, with crazy acid, balance, earth, with chocolate and green notes that give way to raspberry and blackberry, impressive power but controlled. Long and black and mushroom finish with earth and green notes galore with elegance, that is foliage with focus and tannin draping, impressive.
2003 Chateau Leoville Poyferre – Score: A-
Shocking this wine is a Bordeaux, it is crazy ripe, over the top, scary, really, showing blackberry and cassis, and focused but terrifying. Full-bodied and ripe, blackberry, graphite, with crazy tar, ripping tannin, yes dates – get over it, 2003 was ripping hot year in Bordeaux and I asked the winemakers – yup was a great year for parker, but not for me. Showing layers upon layers of tannin and coffee, roasted herb with blackberry and spice, that gives way to tobacco and leather, and then layers of fruit jam, and spice. Finish is long and spicy with crazy fruit lingering long, with mineral, earth, and graphite.
2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan – Score: A
Let me be clear, after two days+ of tasting wines, this was the clear winner, and it turned out to be the last one (well almost last one)! This wine is so bonkers, it is crazy, it starts with blueberry and boysenberry but gives way to cherry and chocolate, with rum flavored blackberry. Wow, what a wine, layered with fruit, lavender, and layers upon layers of earth and chocolate, blackberry, with blue fruit melding with rich extraction and concentration, impressive wine that is insane, massive and focused, but showing immense balance with mineral, graphite, and earth, followed up with black and blue fruit, wow. Long earthy, and tannic finish that is earth, dark fruit, leather, and rich tobacco. Bonkers! The price is insane but so is the wine.
Final French Wines tasted on trip:
2013 Chateau La Tour Carnet – Score: A-
Nice nose of earth, with classic Bordeaux notes, dark fruit, and lovely mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with rich earth, showing good dirt, blackberry, currant, dark cherry, and mouth-searing tannin, that are yet to integrate, with good graphite and lovely fruit structure, that is concentrated and layered. Long and dirty, mineral core wine, that is nice and extracted. Nice.
2014 Chateau Des Riganes – Score: A- (mevushal)
Nice nose of cherry, cinnamon, and lovely licorice, with earth, and menthol. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice and layered, with big aggressive tannin for now, that is backed by nice acidity and a coat of mineral and charcoal, with good fruit structure, followed by blackcurrant, with dark cherry, nice earth, and foliage. The finish is long and spicy, with green notes, earth, and dry red fruit.