Jacques Capsouto Vignobles Cotes de Galilee Village – latest 2016 vintage

I recently received the entire line of the new 2016 wines from Jacques Capsouto Vignobles. I have written many times about this winery, that broke onto the kosher wine scene without many knowing anything about them, and shocked us all with really impressive wines starting from the inaugural release.

The 2015 vintage was not kosher in the end, having to do with how or when the grapes were picked, the 2014 and 2016 vintages are perfectly fine and bear the OK kosher symbol.

I have yet to interview Mr. Capsouto personally (though I did talk with him at Sommelier briefly), but there are many good articles out there and I recommend that you read them all – as each has a nugget of information that the other lacks. The first is the oldest of the articles that I enjoyed – maybe the first one written; when the vines were planted. The next one is an article written by the ever wonderful Dorothy Gaiter, written in the Grape Collective. Next, you have the in-depth article by Haaretz – with really good insights. Finally, there is the best article, IMHO, from one of the better kosher wine writers today; Adam Montefiore.

Through all the articles – you get a common story of Jacques Capsouto, an immigrant from Egypt, who built Capsouto Frères with his family, a classic French restaurant in Tribeca – before anyone cared about Tribeca! Throughout the entire journey of Capsouto Freres, he showed his never-ending passion, and drive, but sadly it ended in sorrow after the effects of terrorism and natural disasters destroyed almost half a lifetime of sweat and tears. To me though, there is another story in there, one of love for Israel, wine, and a deep understanding that Rhone varietals have its place in the Galilee!

Rhone Rangers

The Rhone Rangers are a group of California winemakers who in the 80s started an association to promote Rhone varietals in California. They have single-handedly pushed Rhone Valley varietals into the wine buyer’s subconscious. In 2011, Mr. Capsouto planted a subset of the 22 official varietals (9 in total) that make up the Rhone Rangers list of promoted grapesIn doing so, he became Israel’s first and ONLY truly 100% Rhone varietal winery, in other words, Jacques is all-in on the Rhone Valley in the Galilee!

Look around Israel for those betting on the Rhone varietals, there is, of course, Netofa Winery (who planted Rhone and Loire Valley grapes), Recanati Winery (which has access to Bordeaux grapes for the reserve series and Rhone grapes for their Mediterranean Series), Kishor Winery, and Vitkin Winery. Still, no one has staked 1.7 million dollars to start a boutique winery in the Galilee, featuring some of the most obscure grapes to ever grace Israel! The 9 varieties planted are Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah for the reds and Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne for the whites. Carignan is nothing new in Israel, I just posted an article about Carignan wines from Israel. Cinsault is not one I know of in Israel, or anywhere else in the kosher wine world. Grenache is slowly making its way around the country and has been in Israel for some time now. Same with Mourvedre and Syrah of course. Clairette and Grenache Blanc are new to Israel, though Vitkin also has Grenache Blanc. While Marsanne and Roussanne are in the Golan and other places as well.

Still, no one had bet the farm on Rhone varietals before Mr. Capsouto, in 2012, he was the first (some have now gone that way since then like Covenant Winery Israel). Everyone has hedged with either Bordeaux or in the case of Netofa, Loire Valley’s Chenin Blanc. Netofa is the closest to Capsouto in their brazenness and chutzpah and BRAVO for them both!! Here are two gentlemen, Messrs Capsouto and Miodownick who have built lives in separate worlds but who have chosen their next project to plant Rhone grapes in the north – very interesting!

I spoke with Mr. Capsouto quickly at Sommelier, and I asked him why he chose to plant grapes like Cinsault and Clairette (along with the 7 other Rhone varieties)? His response was that he and his consultants: agronomist Pini Sarig, and Jean-Luc Colombo, feel that Israel is not Bordeaux or Spain, but rather more equal in climate to the Rhone Valley. Clearly, there are some successes with making Bordeaux wines in Israel, but there are also far more mistakes, with flat or flabby wines. If you were betting the farm, Rhone or Spain varietals would be the direction I would go. Kishor Winery agrees and is planting only Rhone varietals going forward, after first planting Bordeaux grapes.

The other fascinating fact about the winery is that even though we knew the wine was coming, as far back as 2012, it caught most of us (in the wine geek world) off guard! Here was a wine coming out of Israel, and it just appeared in NYC in the summer of 2015 and within a few months, it was sold out! Major props go out to both Mr. Capsouto for making the wines, and a hand of applause goes out to Road House Wine, the import company that brought in the Capsouto wines. However, I just wished these nice wines were more available in the kosher market than they are. I have been pushing Kosherwine.com and others to carry the wines, but they were scared off after the 2015 vintage was not really kosher. As stated above the 2014 and 2016 vintages are 100% kosher and the 2014 red wines are actually showing nicely now.

The wines are available at these kosher wine stores: Tops Liquor in Brooklyn, Grapevine in Monsey, Skyview in Riverdale Bronx, and 67 Wine in Manhatten. These are the rest of the stores in the NYC area where they can be found. Benely Wine & Spirits Brooklyn, Ch de Vin Cedarhurst, LI, Bottle Rocket NYC, Mc Cabe’s NYC, White Star NYC, Monty Wine upstate NY, Frankly Wines NYC, Wine & Spirit Co Forest Hills, Sherry Lehman NYC, Estancia NYC.

The 2016 Vintage

As much as I have hated on the 2016 vintage from Israel, in regards to the whites at this point, and the 2015 reds as well, these wines were nice to really nice. The thing I love about Capsouto wines is that they show you can create old-world styled wines in a new world area. The whites have clear minerality and the reds show with a lovely saline characteristic.

The two whites were both lovely and showed mineral, with tart and dried fruit notes, all wrapped in elegance, control, and thank G-D some acid as well!

This year Capsouto released fine new 2016 wines; a rose and two whites, and two new reds. They are the 2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Eva, Rose, 2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Eva, Blanc, 2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Albert Grand Vin Blanc, 2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Samual Rouge, 2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Marco Grand Vin Rouge. The wines are all named in memory of Jacques family members that have passed away. Eva is named in honor of Jacques mother, Samuel is named in honor of his grandfather and brother, Marco is in honor of his father, and Albert is named in honor of his younger brother.

My friends love to talk about Israel and so do I, but not always about wine. White and sparkling wines in Israel have made huge strides in fewer than 5 years. However, the reds are well, not unique, while also being unidimensional, and unfocused. I feel a lot of that comes from the wines being made for mass market pull the larger winery’s focus away from the real wines, and as such both suffer. The real answer for Israel is the smaller boutique wineries that can focus on quality and do not need to cow tied to the date juice craze that has taken hold of the Israeli kosher wine market. It is so great to see real passionate wine lovers building a future in Israel, based upon varietals that can thrive in the desert like climate, and which have the potential to produce great wines!

The wines are nice, but as the vines age and continue to improve, and as the winery learns more about these vines, look for more wines that really excite the imagination. The clear winners were the Grand Vin wines. The Grand Vin Blanc is unoaked, but the extra weight is quite impressive. The Grand Vin Rouge is lovely, but it is a bit expensive at 50 or so dollars.

My many thanks to Mr. Jacques Capsouto and Road House Wine. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Eva, Rose – Score: 88
This wine is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, and 25% Mourvedre. The nose on this wine is slow to open, but with time it shows nicely with classic old world notes, showing bright straw, quince, raspberry, hints of cherry, and stone. The mouth on this medium bodied wine opens with time, also do not serve this wine ice cold it dulls the notes, the wine’s weight is lovely, it has a wonderful presence, but I wish there was a bit more acidity, with no sweet notes, just earth, stone, slate, with dried cranberry, yellow apple, and dried stone fruit. The finish is long and mineral-based, with lovely dried fruit, excellent pith, with slate, green notes, and dried hay. Nice!!

2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Eva, Blanc – Score: 91
The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 15% Roussanne, and 5% Marsanne. The nose on this wine really takes you to the Rhone Valley, dried fruit, old world, so unique a wine for Israel that is truly impressive. The nose on this wine is really fun, old world, with straw, tilled earth, with green apple, white peach, and quince. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows like the rose with nice weight that belies its true weight, with impressive presence, showing a ripe and dried fruit melange with great acid, lovely finesse and balance with good dried fruit, awesome pith, and stone, with tart yellow plum, ripe quince, tart melon, and hints of dried guava. The finish is long and really fun, with slate, rock, pith, and mineral, all lingering long wrapped in lovely tart stone fruit. Bravo!

2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Albert, Grand Vin, Blanc – Score: 92
This wine is a blend of 65% Roussanne, 30% Clairette, and 5% Marsanne. The nose is even lovelier than the Cuvee Eva blanc, showing more ripe tart and rich fruit, and perfectly balanced with mineral and stone galore, with tart peach, tart apricot, and tart summer fruit, all coming together beautifully. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is really fun, really takes you to a place with rich acidity, but glorious fruit focus and rich saline and minerality, that comes to a point with melon, tart green apple, and tart yellow plum all following behind it, with straw and dirt. The finish is long and tart with great acidity, minerality, with rich pith, with a lovely elegance, and impressive finesse, that comes from its clear fruit focus, with graphite, slate, and hints of tannin that are really impressive, all wrapping the tart and rich fruit. The mouth lingers forever, with straw, mineral, saline, slate, and tart fruit – BRAVO!!!

2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Samual, Rouge – Score: 90
This wine is a blend of 40% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 15% Counise. The nose on this wine is really ripe and filled with massive blackcurrant, but with time the fruit that really shows is the blueberry, currant, and lovely mineral, with spice, and earth. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is really well balanced and fun, with good acid, with lovely ripe and tart fruit, with blackberry, boysenberry, with lovely dirt and green notes, followed by fun fruit, with a blue fruit focus with lemongrass, and lovely garrigue. The finish is long and spicy, with lovely leather, and really fun graphite, roasted herb, cumin, allspice, and lovely fruit. Nice!!!

2016 Jacques Capsouto Cuvee Marco, Grand Vin, Rouge – Score: 91
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 30% Syrah (classic GMS). This wine is really fun, it shows elegance, with impressive fruit and mineral focus, with really fun graphite, blue notes, black fruit, eucalyptus, and menthol. The mouth on this full bodied wine is focused with good acidity, nice mineral notes, butterscotch, and lovely foliage, that gives way to layers of blueberry, cassis, blackberry, and lovely elegance that is wrapped in nice sweet tannin and spice. The finish is long and green, yet tart and ripe, with sweet notes, balance, with mineral, graphite, and ripe blue fruit, that gives way to tart red fruit, earth, allspice, and vanilla galore, with tar, lovely saline, olive, and hints of meat. Bravo!


Posted on February 25, 2018, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Hi. Great article. Strictly speaking, Skyview is in the Bronx, more precisely, Riverdale. A matter of local pride. 🙂 Best regards.

  2. Really love these reviews on the smaller wineries. Have you had a chance to taste the Hayotzer wines? Seems from the few tasting notes I could find that they are ripe wines.

  3. Sadly no, hence why I have been reticent to post about KFWE. In the end, France – which I have posted too often about killed the show and the rest all paled in comparison.

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