A wine tasting of some incredible 2014 kosher French wines with Nathan Grandjean

When I last left off on the story of my trip to Israel and Europe, I had just ended with a classic run for the border to Weingut Von Hovel. After we returned from visiting Von Hovel we had a wine tasting. It included some new 2016 wines but it mostly involved French wines from the 2014 vintage and earlier.

As I posted here and here, I have been trying to get to all of the 2014 French wines and as many of the 2015 vintages that are released. With this last tasting, I have been able to get to most of the top 2014 kosher French wines that I know of. The two top 2014 kosher Bordeaux wines that I have been able to taste are the 2014 Chateau Pape Clement and the 2014 Smith Haut Lafite (which I tasted here at this tasting). Right after those superstars come the 2014 Chateau Giscours, 2014 Chateau Malartic, the 2014 Chateau Tour Saint Christophe, the 2014 Chateau Soutard, and the 2014 Chateau Marsac Seguineau. In regards to Sauternes, the two winners are the 2014 Chateau Rayne Vigneau, 1er Cru Classe, and the 2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Classe.

I had not been able to taste the Smith Haut Lafite or the 2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Classe, until this tasting and they were not a letdown in any manner. WOW, they were worth the trip and worth stocking up where and if possible.

If you are interested in these wines, they are mostly wines that are here or will be here eventually. If you cannot find them or do not want to wait – email Nathan Grandjean about how to get them: Contact@yavine.fr (I DO NOT work for wine stores, never have and never will. I get no kickback or payment for this). I state this here only as information. It also seems that kosherwine.com will soon have the 2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Classe as well.

We continued tasting these wines for more than a day, it was only after a long time that the great 2014 wines really opened up. Also, we tasted the Von Hovels throughout this time as well (I did not post the scores here again, as they are in their own post).

The rest of the wines at the tasting were either horrible, passable, or nice enough. My many thanks to JK, Nathan, and his family (for putting up with us). The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2016 LI BI Rose, Cotes du Rhone – Score: 88
The wine is a rose made of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Lovely nose of grapefruit, floral notes, with green apple, gooseberry, with nectarines, and good mineral. The mouth is nice enough, the acid is medium in nature, and while it is well balanced it is unidimensional, with good lemon, peach, and nice acid that does rise after a bit. The finish is long and floral with good saline, mineral, slate, and good spice. Drink up!

2016 Le Mourre de L’isle, White – Score: 87
The wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 30 Viognier, and 30% Grenache Blanc. Lovely nose of peach, and honeysuckle, floral notes, with green apple, and spice. The mouth is slow to open, with peach notes, good acid and balance, with again little complexity but nice acid, with peach, grapefruit, and crazy floral notes. The finish is long with mineral and sweet spices, cinnamon, and cloves. Drink by 2018.

2016 Carmel Riesling – Score – 91
The wine started off very slowly, in a closed state, and it was inaccessible for a day. A lovely nose, but after smelling the German wines, this pales, with nice petrol, honeysuckle, good spices, but very tropical with guava, passion fruit, and pineapple. The mouth is nice, but a far cry from the 2014 vintage, with nice acidity but not near enough, it is ok but it lacks a clear direction, not a sweet wine and not dry enough, with a unidimensional approach with no focus and a short finish with floral notes, slate, and mineral.

After some time – this wine really comes into its own, showing a nose of nice petrol, grapefruit, kiwi, with green apple, and hints of pineapple. The mouth is nicer with time, showing impressive fruit focus, with great searing acid, but still tropical, with passion fruit, green apple, rich mouthfeel, and lovely gripping fruit that is well balanced and tart with lemon Fraiche, rich floral notes, and good spices. The finish is long and spicy, with ripping acid, lovely fruit, earth, incredible mineral, slate, and rock, with floral notes, and mineral galore. Nice! Drink till 2022

2014 Chateau du Grand Barrail, Blaye, Cotes de Bordeaux – Score: 88 (mevushal) (QPR)
Crazy QPR for the price in France of 5 Euro, or so. Nice simple Bordeaux with nice red fruit, followed by green notes, forest floor, with foliage, green notes, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice, not complex with good focus, nice dried raspberry, cranberry, with lovely tannin, nice body, with good acid, good green notes, earth, dirt, and hints of blue notes as well. The finish is long and tart, with good focus, spice, and foliage galore! Nice! Drink by 2023

2016 Le Mourre de L’isle, Red – Score: 82
The wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre. The nose is sweet with candied raspberry, very sweet blue notes, prunes, with strawberry, not enjoyable. The mouth does not feel finished, rushed with some control, but overall more like a Beaujolais Nouveau than a wine. may have been a bad bottle.

2016 LI BI Cotes du Rhone, Red – Score: 87
The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. This is a nice wine, with good control, showing nice blue fruit, raspberry, with currant, black notes, and garrigue. The mouth on this wine is well put together, controlled, with good acid, nice fruit focus, with blackberry, nice raspberry, but the star is the deeply tart and acidic blueberry, with great green notes, and overall fruit structure. The finish is long and tart, with lovely mouth coating tannin, and green notes that linger long, with intense coffee, and spices, white pepper, and cloves. Nice! Drink by 2020

2012 Domaine D’Ardhuy, Gevrey Chambertin – Score: 91
A really nice nose with fruity notes that are a bit surprising, but not overly so, with sweet raspberry jam, followed by lovely garrigue, mushroom, wet forest floor, and spice. The mouth on this nice medium bodied wine is beautiful and richly expressive, with clear fruity notes, showing lovely candied raspberry, dark cherry, and hints of black fruit, with great spices, showing nice mushroom, with mouth draping tannin, followed by lovely smoke, toast, and clear fruit focus with lovely spice, and good sweet oak. The finish is long, green, and tart/jammy with red fruit, nice bell pepper, and good sweet spices, cloves, cinnamon, and sweet coffee notes. Drink by 2023

2015 Gamaret de Geneve – Score: 82
The nose is really fruity, pushed hard, very new world, with jammy notes of blueberry, raspberry, dark cherry, and candied fruits galore. The mouth on this full bodied wine is really in your face, with rich and jammy blueberry, blackberry, and dark plum, almost prune that gives way to ripping tannins that have yet to settle and rich toast. For me, this is not a wine I can enjoy, in many ways it reminds me of Tannat – a wine with uncontrollable tannin, ripe fruit, and not much else.

2015 Chateau du Courneau, Margaux – Score: 89
This is the second wine of Chateau Haut Breton Larigaudiere. The blend is made of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. The nose on this wine is really closed with leather, earth, smoke, mushroom, and nice fruit in the far background. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is good, it is well made, but the green notes are a bit too harsh with good raspberry that gives way to nice tannin that is wrapped in more foliage, mineral, and nice fruit focus that is actually nice and improves as it opens, with the green notes that do calm with time. The finish is long and green with good floral, showing nice mineral, graphite, and more earth and mushroom, but the green notes do hinder this wine. Drink from 2019 to 2023

2015 Chateau Haut Breton Larigaudiere, Margaux – Score: 91 to 92
This nose is lovely and best of the night so far with clear refinement, showing rich herb, soft green notes, with lovely red fruit, ripe with good fruit but not overly jammy. The mouth on this wine is lovely, plush, and richly layered with good saline, lovely graphite, impressive mineral, butterscotch, with layers of dark chocolate, rich mouth coating tannin, that gives way to blackberry, juicy and tart raspberry, plum, and nice richness that is balanced with great acid, rich mineral, graphite, and lovely sweet green notes, and tilled soil. The finish is long and earthy with rich green notes sweet dill, earth, and lovely garrigue. A nice wine that is sweeter than I would have wished but very nice still. Drink from 2021 to 2027

2015 Chateau Moulin Bellegrave, Saint Emilion – Score: 90
This nose is as close to an Israeli Cabernet as you will find in Bordeaux, with crazy ripe fruit, ripe blackberry, ripe blueberry, with candied fruit, and hints of green notes. This wine cannot possibly be a Saint Emilion. The mouth on this super ripe and extracted full-bodied wine is nice enough, with a really pushed fruit of blueberry, ripe strawberry, and ripe dark plum, and fruit galore that gives way to deep and richly extracted wine with blackberry galore, garrigue, earth, and intense leather and sweet milk chocolate. The finish is long and dark, and sweet with mouth coating tannin, sweet chocolate, ripe fruit, and good sweet tobacco, and lovely sweet spices, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with sweet vanilla. Drink from 2019 to 2023.

2014 Chateau La Tour Carnet, Haut Medoc – Score: 91 to 92
The nose on this wine is lovely, perfectly balanced, richly expressed and yet nice with good fruit, well balanced with rich mushroom, earth, and rich black fruit expression. The mouth on this full bodied is lovely and nicely extracted with good blackberry, blueberry, and hints of plum, with dark cherry, and ripe raspberry all coming together with good concentration, but with great control, showing beautiful tannin, elegance and rich green notes and acid balancing the nice fruit, with leather, foliage, garrigue, rich sweet herb, and yet green with mint, roasted herb, and lovely bell pepper that is not annoying in anyway at all. The finish is long and green, with rich mouth drying tannin that does not stop, eventually giving way to foliage, red and black fruit, dark chocolate, and lovely herbs that linger long. Bravo!!! Finally a dry yet perfectly balanced Bordeaux. This one is lovely. Drink from 2021 till 2029.

2014 Servitude Volontaire De La Tour Carnet, Haut Medoc – Score: 92 to 93 (tasted separate, posted here for comparison)
The marketing around this wine is horrible, the labels, the bottles, the name, just not normal for the average American. That is understandable, this wine is a bigger brother to the Tour Carnet, and the barrels are all tasted and the higher level barrels are placed in what should have been called reserve or something. This is a horrible name, but hey I am not in marketing, so who cares.
The wine is very akin to the Tour Carnet, but where the Carnet was a bit edgy, the Servitude is more polished. The nose shows a bit more dirt and roasted herb, but otherwise akin. The mouth is more elegant than its but also more extracted, more concentrated and more powerful with more fruit focus that is impressive but also much more black in fruit with more saline and rich black olives. The finish is again dirtier, with more truffle, mushroom, chocolate, incredible mineral, and rich saline.

2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafite, Pessac – Leognan – Score: 95
This is incredible, insane, far too young to imagine, and a wine that makes me want to just smell it all day, it is a truly perfumed and richly complicated nose, with incredible smoke, richly roasted animal, pure hedonism, and rich black and blue fruit that linger far in the background. The mouth on this full bodied is truly closed, sadly a wine that we have killed for the sake of knowledge, the tannins are beautiful, truly soft and caressing that is based on rich minerality, graphite, espresso, with blackberry, rich dark cherry, raspberry, that is caressing while also being richly tannic, giving way to soft and sweet garrigue, rich graphite, leather, and incredible refinement. The finish is long and green, with rich tannin, lovely tobacco, leather that is soft and saddle, and an extraction that is so incredible as you do not even realize that the extraction is slowly coming expressing itself more and more, in pure elegance, with green notes, foliage, and pure perfection coming through slowly. Bravo!!!!! Drink from 2024 till 2034.

Champagne Bernard Bijotat, Brut – Score: Pass
This wine was bottled 08/08/2016. The wine is a blend of 60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Noir. A slightly oxidized nose of rich brioche with lovely green apple, and nice quince. The mouth is too far oxidized, really a shame, and with the bottling date, I cannot imagine how this occurred. Sorry, the acid is insane, with ripe apples, brioche, and nice yeast, and beautiful small bubble mousse, but not fun.

Champagne Bernard Bijotat, Rose Brut – Score: 88
This wine was bottled 08/08/2016. The wine is also a blend of 60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Noir. The wine is nicer than the other one, with rich toast, ripe fruit, and lovely yeast and brioche. The mouth is slightly oxidized with lovely acid, rich yeast and incredible spice and acid. Nice!

2009 Chateau Bastor Lamontagne Sauternes – Score: 90
THis nose is richly funky, with rich balanced sugar notes showing honeysuckle, rich guava, and sweetly candied passion fruit, with lovely honeyed notes. sadly there lacks the acid to crush this wine, but the lovely mineral and graphite save its skin, with nice almond pith, and rich sweet notes of candied peach and candied apricot that is sweet and really wish it was cut more by some rich acid. The finish is long and green and bitter with graphite, a finish that is not common to the other Sauterne. Nice! Drink till 2027

2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes, 1er Cru classé – Score: 95
This is the fourth 1er classé that has been made kosher. This is a clearly sweet wine with lovely balance though, showing sweet leanings but balanced well with mineral, bright fruit, showing bright dry fruit, lovely funk, showing fresh fruit notes, with honeysuckle, orange blossom, followed by sweet orange marmalade, with incredible sweet notes and fruit focus. The mouth on this full bodied and richly expressive sweet wine is incredibly focused and balanced and sweet, with ripping acidity, that is also balanced with lovely hints graphite with incredible expression, concentration, and impossible complexity that is truly impressive, a wine that never stops with rich grapefruit and citrus in the far background with sweet honeyed notes, candied lemongrass, and rich mineral and slate. The finish is incredible and never ends with honey, spice, nutmeg, and sweet stone fruit. Bravo!!! Drink till 2035

1998 Chateau L’oree de Bel Air, Cerons – Score: 87
This nose and wine are a bit too old for me, with notes of oxidation, rich nuts, almonds, dried flowers, nuts, and salt. The mouth is nice enough but it lacks the acid and is now on its way down. The finish is a bit short with dried fruit, dried apricot, peach, and honeyed notes. The floral notes and funk linger long. Nice enough. Drink UP!


Posted on December 19, 2017, in Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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