A wine tasting of some great and sadly poor to uninspired 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 kosher French wines with Nathan Grandjean

When I last left off on the story of my trip to France, I had just ended an epic tasting of the new 2017 wines from Royal Wines. I then jumped on a train, and I was once again joined by Avi Davidowitz from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, and we made our way to Strasbourg for a tasting of Alsace wines and other wines that are not made by Royal. It included some new 2016, 2017, and 2018 wines, but once again it mostly involved French wines from the 2014 and 2015 vintage.

2018 French wines to the rescue

Now, I need to get on my soapbox for two major topics, the first is how AWESOME the 2018 vintage is showing right now. At this tasting and again with Yoni Taieb of Taieb Wines, the 2018 vintage shows itself incredibly well wit the simple entry-level wines of Bordeaux. It takes them from tinny and boring wines to rich and well-balanced wines, that sell for 8 euros or less! This is something that we will never get in the USA! Sadly, the only wine that comes close to this is the 2018 Chateau Les Riganes, Bordeaux and maybe the 2018 Chateau Genlaire, Bordeaux Superieur, but I think this wine will be above the 10 dollar price of the Chateau Les Riganes.

On the trip to France, two things came up often, when I was speaking French with the natives, something I was not able to do as much with Avi around, as Avi still needs to learn French! One, and this really shocked me, was how common French folk think California is dangerous when I would tell them where I am from, because of all the media of the horrific shootings we have had in our state. Besides that, the Jews I spoke to, especially the ones who drink kosher wine, complain bitterly about the cost of French wines! The more I look at this issue the more it makes me wonder, why are the wines so expensive? Yes, there is a cost for kosher supervision, but that cost does not explain the double or triple pricing of the non-kosher cost. That question is even more exaggerated in France, where there is no three-legged-stool in regards to wine distribution. Yes, France has Negociants, but for the lower level wines that is a practice that is going the way of the dodo bird.

The truth is that what is needed are reasonably priced wines. Avi Davidowitz, on his Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog scores wines partially based upon price. I do not agree for many reasons, which we discussed over our trip, but it does NOT diminish the overarching issue which is 100% true, kosher wine prices have gotten 100% OUT OF CONTROL. Sorry, this is insane and before someone tells me it is the Chateau’s fault for having such high En Primeur pricing, the kosher wine prices are shockingly higher. This really needs to be rebooted, IMHO, but sadly, it will stay the same until we get into a serious crunch or glut, whichever occurs first. Yes, we are blessed with some QPR wines, and I always post about them, but overall, the grand cru wines are getting out of control.

That is why I am so happy with the 2018 simple wines from Bordeaux. Sadly they will not come to the USA under those prices, but for those in France, there are serious options.

2015 and 2016 Magrez wines are a total failure, IMHO

Last year, I wrote that this post was coming, but I had to taste the 2015 and 2016 Pape Clement first before I could make my feelings clear. At this point, I have tasted the 2015 Magrez reds 5 times and the 2016 whites 2 times. I am 100% comfortable with saying they have all taken a seriously far step backward from the epic 2014 vintage. The 2014 Magrez were world-class wines and wines I have bought happily. However, I can not say the same for any of the 2015 or 2016 kosher Magrez wines I have tasted to date. I was very disappointed when I tasted the kosher 2015 Pape Clement, and I was shocked by the results of the 2015 Tour Carnet, Fombrouge, and others. The 2016 Pape Clement is better than the 2015 vintage, but it is not worth the bottle it is in. The whites have all also lost a few serious steps from the 2014 vintage. Personally, I will not be buying any of the 2015 or 2016 Magrez wines I tasted, other than the Pape Clement wines I tasted that I bought En Primeur.

Now, with that aside, I can clearly state that the wines are not undrinkable, they are not date juice, they are not unprofessionally made, they are simply boring, lackluster, and flat, with little to grab your attention. They are simply not wines worthy of the price or their names, sadly, they are what they are.

I miss Weingut Von Hovel and the Gefen-Hashalom wines

Two years ago Nathan Grandjean and I made a run for Von Hovel, and I wanted to do that again year after year, and maybe even Nik Weis. Sadly, they told me there were no new wines for 2017 or 2018, and now I just heard there was none made in 2019 either. I am really so sad, those wineries have so much potential, but I guess Gefen Hashalom (“Vine of Peace”) felt they had too much inventory already. I am really not sure what they have that is not sold? All the Nik Weis wines are sold, from what I know, Gary got the rest of the 2016 wines. Von Hovel did not make any wines after the 2015 vintage, and they have nothing left either. I really hope they make wines in 2020.

Wine Tasting at Nathan Grandjean

After last year’s solid tasting with Nathan Grandjean, I had tasted all of the 2015 French wines that I know of. The 2016/2017/2018 wines are slowly being released, from producers other than Royal. Kosher Wine International, the producers for all the Magrez wines, has now fully released the 2015 wines. Two days after this tasting we would be tasting Taieb wines, but we wanted to taste the 2017 Domaine Lescure Pommard, so that was on the list.

After last year’s tasting of a few Magrez 2015 wines and my other tastings of them at two wine events, I wanted the chance to taste them YET AGAIN, with both of the Pape Clement and the new 2016 Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Sauternes. So, I had Nathan get all the 2015 and 2016 Magrez wines that are available and we tasted them over two days. Thankfully, we also had a couple of wonderful wines and some duds.

Finally, we tasted all of Nathan Grandjean’s Les Vins de Vienne wines from both the 2017 vintage and the 2018 whites. He had some tank samples of the 2018 reds, but honestly, they were not ready for me to write proper notes on.

If you are interested in any of the wines we tasted, they are mostly available here, though some will never make it. If you cannot find them or do not want to wait, Nathan Grandjean has them for sale on his website: www.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 hopefully have some of these as well.

We tasting these wines twice, once in the evening and once more the next day. This did help some of the wines to open, but most of the wines were either unchanged or some were worse off. I posted here scores from Koenig wines, as we had visited them earlier in the day and took some of the wines with us to taste again, the notes here are the best of those wines.

My many thanks to Nathan, and his family (for putting up with us). The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

Koenig Wines


2017 Koenig Sylvaner, Alsace – Score 89 (Mevushal) (QPR)
This is a bit sweet off-dry wine with notes of lychee, melon, lemon, with notes of orange blossom. The mouth on this wine is nice enough though I would like a bit more acidity, though it is well balanced, simple with nice notes of grapefruit and lemon with more orange and sweet notes. The finish is long and tart nice. Drink now (Only available in Europe)

2018 Koenig Sylvaner, Alsace – Score 70 (Mevushal)
Sadly, this is boring and flat and sweet. (Only available in Europe)`

2017 Koenig Riesling, Alsace – Score: 90 (Mevushal) (QPR)
The nose on this nice wine shows rich floral notes, with great tension showing lemon-lime and Meyer lemon with petrol notes, lovely green notes, and rich quince. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is really tart with great acid, showing incredible grapefruit, tart lemon, with nice mineral and rich freshness, that gives way to slate and rock that are non stop with a finish that is super long and richly textured with floral notes and pith. Nice! Drink by 2021.

2018 Koenig Riesling, Alsace – Score: 90  (Mevushal) (QPR)
It is s bit closed now, but it shows more orange blossom and honeysuckle, with petrol, flint, with mineral, and earth, and gooseberry. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is really nice, it shows a heavier mouthful than 2017, along with more floral notes, with a great balance of acid, petrol, with muted mouthful but opens with time. Drink by 2022. (Not yet available will come when ready).

2018 Koenig Riesling, Grand Cru, Frankstein, Alsace – Score: 90 to 91 (NOT Mevushal) (QPR)
This wine is still a bit young and I hope it will improve. Still, this wine will not make its way to the USA, so buy them in France or Europe. The nose on this wine is pure heather, violet, orange blossom, with hints of petrol, flint, and pear. The mouth on this is lovely but very fleeting and feint with notes of gooseberry, lovely petrol, crazy lemon, honeysuckle galore and a weight that is lovely that is backed by acidity, mineral, slate, and crazy structure with Lychee and more floral notes on a long finish. Nice! (Only available in Europe)

2017 Koenig Muscat, Alsace – Score: 89 (NOT Mevushal) (QPR)
This dry Muscat is nice with floral notes galore with Jasmine, rose, violet, melon, and lychee, with a nice mouthfeel like a bouquet of flowers, with nice spice and flint, very interesting wine. Drink by 2021. (Only available in Europe)

2018 Koenig Gewurztraminer, Prestige, Alsace – Score: 91 (NOT Mevushal) (QPR)
The nose on this wine is crazy with really ripe and sweet banana, lychee, floral blossoms, honeysuckle, and melon. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is really fun, layered, ripe, sweet, and super well-balanced, with great acidity showing layers of lychee, Jasmine, and honeydew with great citrus and pith galore nice. Drink until 2024. (Only available in Europe)

NV Koenig Cremant d’Alsace, Brut – Score: 90 (Mevushal) (QPR)
This is a nicer wine than the Ribeauville, with smaller more refined bubbles, equal attack, no sweet notes to be found, and dry fruit. The nose is dry with nice quince, rose, floral notes, with licorice, yellow Apple, and yeast. The mouth on this light to medium-bodied wine is lighter than the Ribeauville, but more refined, with a rich smaller bubble mousse, more quince, Asian pear, and lovely lemon/lime and nice acidity. The finish is long, green, and tart, with lovely tart fruit, mineral, and brioche. Nice! Drink until 2020.

Nathan Grandjean Wine Tasting

2017 Francois Bohn Riesling, Grand Cru, Sommerberg, Alsace – Score: 89
The nose is lovely, petrol, bright fruit, loads of fruit blossom, orange, and honeysuckle. The mouth on this wine is flabby, it has nice acid, but there is really nothing exciting, melon, with nice saline, and green notes. The finish is long, green, saline, lemon, and grapefruit. The finish is the best part of the wine. Drink until 2023. (Only available in Europe)

2016 Chateau Fombrauge Blanc, Bernard-Magrez, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru classé – Score: 88
The nose on this wine is funky and stinky, with loads of flint, smoke, fruit, with citrus, and green apple. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has weight, and while it is balanced, it is not acid-core more like just enough acid, though with time the acidity shows a bit more there is really a lacking, it is missing in the middle and then the finish comes back with lemon acid. Sad, not much else. (Not sure if this will be in the USA)

2014 Chateau Fombrauge Blanc, Bernard-Magrez, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru classé – Score: 92
This is the third time I have had this wine, WOW, it is even more flint driven now and less tropical. This wine is a blend of 40% Sémillon, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris. This wine is epic and truly lovely, with loads of smoke and toast, sweet oak, with a rich nose of gooseberry, cat piss madness, with intense lychee, ripe peach, backed by intensely tart and bright fruit, and honeysuckle. The mouth on this wine is truly French, rich and mouth-filling, showing intensely bright and tart fruit, backed by impressive acid, with tart green apple, balanced well with honey notes in the back (from the Semillon), with crazy pith and great acid. So lovely! The finish is long and tart, with some creme starting to show, backed by intense lemon, grapefruit, balanced with scrapping mineral, slate, rock, with dirt, nectarines, and cloves. Bravo! Drink from now till 2024. (This is sadly only available in France)

2015 Chateau du Grand Barrail, Blanc, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux – Score: 90
The nose on this wine shows smoke, flint, with lovely dry fruit, showing rich honeysuckle, white flowers, with honeyed apples, and lovely Asian pears. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine shows riper fruit than the nose, showing more sweet fruit, with sweet melon, the hole in the middle closes with time, the mouthfeel is falling off, with nice acidity that shows a bit further in the mouth, with intense honeydew, melon, and lovely grapefruit, and Meyer lemon. The finish is long, truly searing with acid, and rich with more honeyed fruit, and lovely citrus fruit. Bravo! Drink now!. (This is sadly only available in France)

2018 Chateau de Grand Barrail, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux – Score: 88
This is not as exciting as the 2014 vintage was 3 years ago. The nose on this wine is simple, green, red, and hints of blue, with bramble and garrigue. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice enough with blackberry, plum, dark cherry, nice mouth-coating tannin, and graphite, with loads of earth, dirt, and garrigue. The finish is a bit short but nice enough, a nice simple wine that is dirt cheap in France. (This is only available in France)

2015 Chateau Vieux Lavergne, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: NA
The nose on this wine is reduced showing oxidized barnyard, with green and black fruit, with mineral, dirt, and wet loam, and mushroom. Nasty mouth move on. (This is only available in Europe)

2016 Chateau Meilhan, Medoc – Score: 85
The nose on this wine is red and black with green notes, with lovely earth, terroir, and smoke, nice, sadly it is the best part of the wine. The mouth is ripe, sweet, round, with searing acid and tannin and much else. (This is only available in Europe)

2015 Chateau D’Alix, Pessac-Leognan – Score: 87
The nose on this wine is incredible, with a perfumed and crazy fruit nose, pomegranate, with crazy blackberry, juicy boysenberry, with good bright notes, an overly ripe fruit wine sad. The mouth is crazy ripe, bordering on date juice upon opening, the next day it calms down, with crazy blackberry, boysenberry, smoke, insane tannin, incredible graphite, and nice acid. The finish is long, green, mineral-laden, and smoke, but I would not buy this again. Drink up!

2015 La Demoiselle D’Haut-Peyrat, Haut-Medoc – Score: 90
This is a fun wine, and the most terrifying fact is that this is the best red wine of the night so far. The nose shows notes of pure mineral, smoke, flint, earth, dirt, wet loam, black cherry, and graphite galore. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is a bit short in the front, but it is nice, with smoke, blackberry, dark cherry, earth, ripe and tart red fruit, raspberry, lovely mouth coating tannin, and green notes of garrigue and foliage. The finish is long, green, tart and sweet juicy red fruit, with mineral, graphite, and green notes lingering long with leather, and tobacco. Nice! Drink up, this fell apart the next day. (I think this is only available in Europe, may come to the USA)

2015 Chateau Fombrauge, Red, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: 87
This is the fourth time I have had this wine and it has gotten worse, so sad. This wine is ripe, really ripe, and fruity, with black fruit galore, sweet and ripe, that is filled with earth, and sweet oak. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is really ripe, scary, with fruit that is riper than I can handle, with an incredible mouthfeel, and tactile attack, with rich mouth coating tannin, layers upon layers of extra ripe blackberry, cassis, really ripe plum, and some green notes, with milk chocolate galore, and loads of earth. The finish is long, dark, brooding and almost date, with saline, and hope that maybe it will calm down over the years. For now, I cannot like this wine. Drink from 2022 until 2026.

2015 Chateau La Tour Carnet, Haut Medoc, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 89
Last year this wine was super closed. Now, all I can say is that it is wide open and super-ripe fruit. The nose on this wine is lovely, and not as ripe as the Fombrauge, with lovely green notes, herb, and black fruit galore, with hints of red fruit, mushroom, with licorice, and tilled earth. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, but still far more controlled than the Fombrauge, with layers of concentrated black fruit, herb galore, with loads of sweet milk chocolate, rich extraction, and lots of blackberries, rich juicy dark black plum, and mushroom, all wrapped in nice mouth-coating tannin, still the wine is really ripe and round and lacking complexity. The finish is long, black, and sweet, with too much sweet fruit, showing the fruit that scares me, with nice mineral, graphite, and hints of foliage under the bed of crazy ripe fruit, with leather, and loads of tobacco. Sadly, this too is too unbalanced for me to think about buying, move on. Drink from 2023 until 2030.

2015 Servitude Volontaire de La Tour Carnet, Haut-Medoc – Score: 85
The nose on this wine is even riper than the Tour Carnet if that is even possible, with so much vanilla, oak, sweet fruit, smoke, and mineral, not really fun. The mouth on this wine is oakier, showing more elegance, but the wine is round, flat, and not really interesting, move on.

2015 Chateau Pape Clement, Haut-Medoc, Pessac-Leognan – Score: 90
The nose on this wine is ripe, yes, and while it is better than the rest of the 2015 wines from Magrez, this wine is a total ripoff. The nose is ripe but lovely with crazy barnyard, showing notes of blackberry, ripe fruit, with blue fruit, with cigar galore, and green notes and foliage. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, really ripe, with incredible fruit structure, showing intense dark and brooding fruit, juicy and ripe blackberry, cassis, dark plum, loads of oak, foliage, and green notes, with searing tannin, and bracing acidity. The finish is long, dark, black, and far too ripe for me, showing fruit darkness that makes me question the entire Magrez line from 2015, with a balance that is nice, but for the money, this is an incredible rip-off and total joke in comparison to so many incredible 2015 wines. Shame! There is no excuse for this and for a vintage-like 2015, this is a complete travesty. Move on. Drink from 2024 until 2030.

2016 Chateau Pape Clement, Haut-Medoc, Pessac-Leognan – Score: 92
The nose on this wine is more elegant and less ripe than the 2015 vintage. The nose shows green and black fruit, yes it is ripe but nowhere near the crazy 2015 vintage, with green notes, and lovely layers of mineral, graphite, and loam, nice with floral notes of rose and violet, over time the floral notes come out harder with mushroom as well, sadly it also smells less bright the next day. The mouth is closed but open as well, with layers upon layers of bright open black and red fruit, showing blackberry, cassis, blueberry, smoke, while showing layers of controlled fruit, with crazy graphite, incredible extraction, and fruit-structure, with layers of fruit, mineral, graphite, charcoal, and lovely rich and beautiful with scraping mineral, tannin, extraction, and fruit, that works altogether with green fruit, foliage, menthol galore, what is missing is the acidity to really hold it all together, showing a bit round. The finish is long green, controlled, with mineral, chocolate, sweet Cuban tobacco, with graphite, bracing acidity, and dark fruit. Nice! Drink from 2025 until 2032. (For now, this is only available in Europe)

2015 Peyrat-Fourthon, Haut-Medoc – Score: 93
The nose on this wine is now open, really beautiful, showing screaming bright fruit, with perfume or pure heaven, showing lovely blackberry, cranberry, rich mineral, loam galore, and lovely roasted herb. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, well balanced, not jammy, with layers upon layers of super-concentrated and well-balanced fruit, that is super tannic, so tannic that my mouth puckered long, but super balanced, with currant, dark cherry, with dark plum, and earth galore, that gives way to a mouthfeel that is impossible to comprehend, with layers of complexity and punch, while all being balanced with incredible mushroom, and intense forest floor, with massive loam, and foliage galore. The finish is long and green, with incredible power, yet incredible finesse, with elegance, and power that gives way to dark chocolate, red fruit galore, and tilled earth, and more mushroom. With a mushroom and graphite farm lingering super long, wow! Bravo!!! Drink from 2022 until 2031. (This is only available in France unless someone sees it here).

2014 Chateau Marsac Seguineau, Margaux – Score: 93 to 94
Lovely rich black fruit, so young with crazy mineral, saline, with mushroom and hints of barnyard, with crazy elegance and green note that are in your face, more than I expected, but epic elegance. The mouth is layered and extracted and crazy good and rich acid, with blackberry, ripe currant, with layers of elegance and complexity, showing draping tannin that dries the mouth, rich and epic, mineral takes center stage with spice galore. This is a wine with so much balance, fruit, mineral, and crazy acid, WOW!. Long and crazy dry finish, ripping acid, mounds of mineral, rich leather, tobacco leaf, espresso, and rich crazy screaming saline, with lots of foliage lingering long. Bravo! Drink 2021 till 2030. (Available only in France – why? I do not know)

2011 Chateau Moulin de la Clide, Saint-Emilion – Score: 92
The wine is 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. The nose on this wine is dirt and mushroom, this is a classic Saint Emilion blend with ripe fruit, loamy dirt, ethereal forest floor, and red fruit perfume – what a lovely experience of watching wine open, with crazy mushroom heaven, and lovely smoke, and tar. The mouth on this medium plus wine follows classic French style, no hammering fruit, no fruit-forward issues here, but to be fair it also requires you to take notice of more subtle intonations and characteristics. Here the wine is not a wallflower, but while it is not a Cali wine – it does not lack in complexity, but it is not an extracted wine either. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich and ripe with blackberry, cassis, ripe black plum, lovely black cherry, and tart raspberry, all wrapped up in insane mouth coating tannin that does not give up, even after a day! Clearly, the star of the show is the tannin and loamy dirt, but the fruit and oak add to the wine’s complexity, which helps round the mouth and add depth to its meaning. The finish is a classic French balance, great acid, mineral, graphite, chocolate, more dirt that mingles with tart red fruit, leather, and tobacco to make for a long lingering wine. Over time the wine shows even more massive size and expression with bigger and richer tannin, blacker fruit expression all still balanced well with zesty red fruit, dirt, and mineral. This wine is almost ready, give it six months and start enjoying. Drink from 2020 until 2025.

2017 Domaine Chantal Lescure, Pommard – Score: 94
This is a crazy barnyard wine is super slow to open, showing a wine with notes of foliage, menthol, barnyard, mushroom, loam, and wet soil, showing red fruit, with toast, mineral, and loads of earth, lovely. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is incredible, showing ripe and sweet fruit, that is layered with layers upon layers of dark cherry, raspberry, blackberry, plum, and earth, with loads of dirt, menthol, with loam, that is so tannic that it is crazy, with loads of saline, olive, black and green fruit, and foliage galore, backed by mushroom forest floor. The finish is long, green, black, tannic, with dark chocolate covering coffee beans, earth, and smoke, that shows incredible leather, smoke, and foliage, with gripping tannin and earth/barnyard galore, with graphite and charcoal lingering long. Bravo!! Drink from 2024 until 2033. (I hope this will soon be in the USA, for now in Europe)

2018 Le Vins de Vienne Crozes-Hermitage, Les Palignons, Blanc – Score: 90 to 91
This wine is made from 100% Marsanne. The nose on this wine is closed like crazy, it needs so much time to open, showing green notes, honeysuckle, lemongrass, flint galore, rock, and saline. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is well balanced, with good acidity, showing green apple, quince, searing acidity, with screaming tannin, balancing out the oak, with sweet cedar, Asian pear, and rock, with charcoal ribbons, and flint. The finish is long, creamy, smoky, and earthy, with saline, with the searing tannin, oak, and acidity lingering long, with minerality and tart green notes is really fun! Bravo! Drink from 2020 until 2024.

2018 Le Vins de Vienne Condrieu, La Chambee – Score: 92
I had the 2017 vintage a few times and while I liked it each time I had it, this is the best by far with crazy notes of the perfume of rich ripe peach, apricot, and nectarines, with orange blossom, crazy floral notes of yellow fruit and earth galore, with smoke, and crazy honeyed notes, with loads of mineral, rich spices, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is crazy fun, layered, ripe, not round, edgy with layers of acidity, fruit, oak, and spices, with sweet stone fruit, green apple, all well balanced with sweet cedar, straw, flint, and smoke. The finish is awesome, it is long, green, sweet, smoky, with earth, mineral, straw, dry grass, and more lemongrass with white pepper, and nutmeg, bravo! Drink from 2021 until 2028.

2017 Les Vin de Vienne Saint Joseph, L’Arzelle – Score: 91
This wine is made up of 100% Syrah from the famed region of Saint-Joseph, another first for kosher wine. The wine was aged in barrels for 16 months and was fermented with 30% stems. The nose on this is richly earthy, with crazy smoked lamb, with grilled onions, menthol, and garrigue, licorice, lovely blue and black fruit, with rich red fruit, fresh mint, and mineral. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is rich and layered with soft and plush, sadly a bit rounder than I would like, with soft tannin and mouthfeel, with blackcurrant, blackberry, with sweet fruit, with elegance, showing blueberry and ripe boysenberry with sweet fruit. The finish is long and sweet and ripe with milk chocolate, and ripe blueberry and tart juicy strawberry lingering long.
L’Arzelle refers to the unusual and diverse terroir of the Saint-Joseph appellation. Originating from the Massif Central, the granite easily decomposes over time. In the local dialect, Arzelle refers to the wearing away of the parent rock. Drink from 2020 until 2025.

2017 Les Vin de Vienne Crozes-Hermitage, Les Palignons – Score: 91
This wine is made up of 100% Syrah from the famed region of Crozes-Hermitage. The wine was aged in barrels for 16 months and was fermented with 100% stems.
The nose on this wine is ripe, with ripe plum, with ripe blue and red fruit, with intense fruit and jammy fruit that gives way to smoke, but now the barnyard has overtaken the nose and is covered up by the fruit. The mouth on full-bodied wine is now crazy ripe that was previously balanced with ribbons of mineral/charcoal, now the charcoal is there but the fruit is popping out, with draping tannin, along with rich mineral and a lovely tactile grip, that really gives way to earth, dirt, mineral, and rich tobacco, but sadly, the wine is too ripe, and showing scary fruit-forward fruit. The finish is long, green, elegant, and lovely with tannin, bitter notes, and menthol, green notes linger long. Lovely!
Les Palignons refers to damage brought about by wind gusts. Indeed, the Mistral wind blows much stronger in the Crozes-Hermitage. Sometimes extremely violent, it breaks the vineyard poles known as Palignons. Drink from 2020 until 2028.

2017 Les Vin de Vienne Cote Rotie, Les Essartailles – Score: 90
This wine is made up of 100% Syrah from the famed region of Cote-Rotie. The wine was aged in barrels for 16 months and was fermented with 30% stems and yet another first for kosher wine. The wine is now open and it shows really ripe fruit even riper than earlier this year, with lovely charcoal, and smoke, that gives way to earth, and smoke, green notes, and garrigue. The mouth on this full-bodied wine, with crazy ripe blackberry and hints of blueberry, with dark and milk chocolate, that is wrapped in crazy gripping tannin, that is really ripe, with hints of fig and dark brooding fruit that is super ripe. The finish is long and sweet and dark, with bitter notes balancing the super-ripe fruit.
Essartailles refers to a local vine-growing technique. Growers traditionally cover the vine root-stock with soil to protect the vegetation from winter frost. In the springtime, Essartailles entails restoring the earth to the vineyard row, thereby allowing for the gentle tilling of the parcel. Drink from 2022 until 2030.

1998 Chateau L’Oree de Bel-Air, Cerons – Score: NA
The nose is burnt caramel, charcoal, almonds, with melon, and sweet notes. No acid sadly, but nice. (This is only available in Europe)

2016 Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Sauternes, Premier Grand Cru Classe – Score: 88
The nose on this wine is classic Sauternes, with ripe and sweet notes of apricot, peach, and orange blossom, with mango, and sweet spices, with lovely funk, and fruit that draws you in, sadly the mouth drops the ball hard! The mouth is rich, ripe, no acid to bring it together, with loads of honey, honeysuckle, ripe fruit, and mango, with sweet melon, and mineral. Sadly the whole package is out of balance, and while it is kind of fun, it is not refreshing, fat and cloying more so than enjoyable, so sad. Another miss by Magrez kosher. Drink until 2025.

2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes, 1er Cru classé – Score: 95
This is the fourth 1er classé that has been made kosher. This is clearly a 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

Posted on December 2, 2019, in Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Hello David,

    My girlfriend and I just opened a bottle of 2015 Chateau Vieux Lavergne, and, after reading your review we were expecting to find an absolutely foul liquid that tasted like rancid rust water. What we found was a gorgeous wine with stunning color, rich body and very pleasant flavor. What on earth did you drink? We almost returned the $50 bottle before opening it based on your review but my gut said “try it and see for yourself”. I only drink kosher non mevushal and usually search your blog to see if a review is available on a bottle I’m purchasing. I have no affiliation whatsoever with this wine and am simply writing this comment because of our shock at what we tasted compared to what you wrote. I’ve been reading wine reviews for a pretty long time and have never read such a negative review slamming a wine as you did this Chateaux Vieux Lavergne 2015. So again our only question is …what on earth is it that you drank because it wasn’t the delicious Bordeaux we just enjoyed. God bless!

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