Les Vins IDS continues to truly impress, with the new 2017 Chateau Lafon Rochet and more
The day after the Bokobsa tasting, and following the tasting of the Corcos wines, Ari, Eli, and I went to lunch, to pick up wines and eat lunch. The lunch was uninspiring, but the store/restaurant gave us a chance to pick up many wines I have been dying to taste, as they are extremely hard to find almost anywhere in the world, but that will have to wait till after this IDS post.
Following lunch, we made our way to IDS’ offices and Ben Uzan was there with his wines, minus the current Burgundies from Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter, that I had already tasted with Ralph.
Les Vins IDS
IDS, as we know it is officially called Les Vins IDS and IDS, stands for International Distribution Service. IDS does not control a large number of wineries, but the amount that they do control, are some of the most vaunted kosher French wines around! The granddaddy would be the epic, Smith Haut Lafitte! I have tasted almost all of the kosher vintages, 1995 and 2000 were brought in by Royal, with the 1995 vintage being made by Bokobsa. 2002 and 2009 – was never quite clear to me (wink wink) who officially imported those wines to the USA. The 2014 vintage is now being imported to the USA by M & M Importers. The only one of that list I have yet to taste is the 1995 vintage. I actually did “taste” it, but sadly it was corked.
IDS also makes the kosher runs at the fantastic Chateau Lafon Rochet, which has been made kosher so far in 2001, 2003, and 2010, and again in 2017. I have, thankfully, tasted them all, besides the 2017 vintage until this tasting, and to me, the 2010 vintage is in a league of its own.
IDS also controls the relationship with Chateau Valandraud, to me maybe the most vaunted Grand Cru in the Saint-Émilion appellation. No, it is not Angelus or Cheval Blanc, but it is a very big win for the kosher wine drinking public. As an example, here were the top 10 wineries for the 2014 vintage, of the Grand Vin from the Saint Emilion wineries, scored by Decanter.
Sadly, the last kosher Grand Vin made from Valandraud was in 2005, and what a wine it is! Since then, they have made the second label of Chateau Valandraud kosher, the Virginie de Valandraud ( a 2nd label for the vaunted winery, that was started in non-kosher in 1992). This wine has been made kosher in 2004, 2011, and 2015. I have not tasted the 2004 Virginie, but I have tasted the 2011 and 2015, and it is a consistently impressive wine, but a bit richly priced, which is what you get when you talk about Valandraud.
Finally, there is Chateau Labegorce, a wine that used to be a killer QPR wine when it was first released. Now, the price here in the USA is a bit elevated, but the 2015 vintage is quite the winner, IMHO! There have been two wines from this winery, the Labegorce ‘Zede’ and the Labegorce Margaux, both are Margaux wines, with the Zede winery closing in 2008. Its fruit was merged into the Labegorce Margaux in 2008.
IDS has made other wines, but they have not produced more vintages, like the Chateau Matras (2002 and 2004) and Chateau L’Hermitage (which both closed down), and Chateau Rauzan – Gassies (which was too small to continue with). Chateau Haut Condissas, and the rest of the Rollan de By wines, was originally made by IDS, but after 2005, it went under the control of Rollan de By, which also was made by IDS until 2003.
Essentially, after the 2005 vintages, IDS now fully controls six wineries, La Tour de By, Leydet-Valentin, Valandraud, Labegorce, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Lafon Rochet.
On top of those six wineries IDS has started making some rose and sparkling wines. They made sparkling wine in the past, from Lilian Renoir, I never tasted it. But now they have made a new Brut and Rose Champagne from Janisson & Fils. Also, they make a lovely rose, Chateau Sainte Marguerite Rose, the best rose of the year for me, last year, though it is steeply-priced.
There are also two new Bordeaux wines coming that will be announced later this year.
After lunch, we found our way to Ben Uzan’s offices, and we were ready to taste the lineup. Mr. Uzan was very kind to share all of the current wines in Les Vins IDS’ portfolio, other than the two Champagne and the 2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Burgundies.
I was really looking forward to tasting the lower level IDS wines that never make it to the USA, as the pricing would not work there, but wines that work beautifully in France, price-wise. The rose was still showing its minerality, though sadly the acidity that I loved so much had fallen off. I also wanted to taste a few of the higher-end wines that had not yet made it to the USA, like the new 2017 Chateau Lafon Rochet. It was a joy and honor to taste the epic 2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte again, it is so young and yet so wonderful!
We also, hijacked the offices to taste other wines, which I will NOT post here, but ones I will post in a subsequent post after this one. Mr. Uzan was beyond kind and his hospitality and openness with our questions showed the grace that I love from his wines. I was again joined by a few of the French forum members, including Ari Cohen, Ben Sitruk, and Elie Dayan.
My many thanks to Ben Uzan for setting up the meeting, sharing his wines with us, and for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2018 Clos des Lunes Lune D’Argent, Bordeaux – Score: 91 to 92
This wine is a blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this wine starts off a bit hot, with time it turns lovely, with flint, rock, gooseberry, citrus, and green notes, with orange blossom, yellow fruit, and earth. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine comes at you in layers of fruit, with a nice integrated acid, showing green notes, tart with asparagus, yellow plum, dry straw, with mineral, lovely smoke, tart fruit, rock, and grapefruit and lemon/lime. The finish is long, green, with orange notes, and mineral that lingers long forever. Drink by 2023.
2016 Chateau Tour du Bosquay, Bordeaux Superieur – Score: 90+ (QPR)
The nose on this wine starts with blackcurrant, green notes, earth, and smoke, with garrigue, and foliage galore, with loads of roasted herb, Oregano, and loam. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, not overly complex, but nice with layers of raspberry, blackberry, currants, crazy roasted herbs, and lovely acidity. The finish is green, red, and mineral, with herb and graphite, and nice tannin. Nice! Drink until 2024.
2016 Chateau Tour du Barail, Bordeaux Superieur – Score: 90+ (QPR)
Lovely nose, much more mineral than the Bosquay with lovely black and red fruit, with green notes, and earth. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, not overly complex, with more loam and more elegance, with loads of fruit, but well-controlled, green and red fruit, with smoke, and roasted herb, with lovely tannin, and loam. The finish is long, with nice acidity, great fruit, and tobacco, and herb. Nice!
2016 Benjamin de La Tour de By, Medoc – Score: 92 (QPR)
The nose on this is 100% gravel, and dirt, and loam, with loads of fruit, but hidden behind the mineral and tar. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is crazy fun, well-balanced, rich acidity, great concentration, lovely extraction, with blackberry, raspberry, with rich saline, crazy tannin, and lovely fruit focus, really nice, great overall balance, with loam, and earth, and rich tannin. The finish is long, green, well-extracted, tar, with loam, and smoke, and rich saline. Bravo! Drink from 2023 until 2029.
2016 Chateau la Tour de By, Medoc – Score: 91
Wow, this wine is hot showing really ripe and bold with brooding black fruit, with loads of chocolate, oak, spice, and really ripe fruit, with hints of green notes and herb. With time the nose cools down showing fruit without all the crazy heat, with loads of them and black fruit, with spice, smoke, tar, and earth, lovely. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is richly layered and black with hints of raspberry, loads of blackberry, smoke, rich and dense and plush mouthfeel with incredible extraction and earth galore, with a whole in the middle, that gets hidden over time with a lovely tannin structure. The finish on this wine is rich and layered and smoky with milk chocolate, leather, and loads of sweet spices, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Nice! Drink until 2026. It is very possible that this wine is far too fruit-forward at this point, but with time may improve greatly.
2016 Chateau Leydet-Valentin, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: 89
The nose on this wine is ripe, but controlled, to start, with notes of blue, black, and red fruit, with loads of earth, and herbs, floral notes of violets, and green notes. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is showing far too much oak at this point, with loads of sweet cedar, too much sweet fruit, dill, smoke, green notes, with blackberry, blueberry, and earth, with nice acidity, wrapped in a nice fruit-structure, and herb. The finish is long, green, sweet, earthy, oaky, and dark, with layers of milk chocolate, sweet spices, cinnamon, sweet liquor notes of cherry, and screaming tannin that goes on forever. Drink by 2023.
2011 Chateau de Valois, Pomerol – Score: 90 to 91
The nose on this wine is a pure mineral bomb, dark candied cherry, with mushroom heaven, loads of smoke, and herb, with roasted meat, and herbs. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is a mineral lick, balanced, with crazy smoke, forest, dirt, with mushroom, and barnyard, not much fruit left, with cherry, and currant. The finish is super long, green, mineral, graphite, with mushroom, and earth, lovely! Drink up!
2016 Château La Tour de By, Heritage, Marc Pages, Médoc – Score: 93
This wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. The nose on this wine is ripe, big, and bold, with clear black fruit leanings, but well balanced, with black pepper, tar, sweet black fruit, with red berry, and lovely spice. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is well balanced, layered with a lovely mouthfeel of blackberry, cassis, rich sweet fruit, but balanced with lovely acidity and green notes, with crazy garrigue, menthol, mint, and cinnamon, followed by roasted herb, mouth-draping tannin, and a lovely fruit-focus, with an incredible mineral backbone. The finish is long, green, rich, layered, and well balanced with lovely graphite, rock, spice, roasted herb, black and red fruit, and dark chocolate. Drink from 2021 until 2026.
2015 Chateau Labegorce, Margaux – Score: 93
This is the third time I have tasted the wine and it has changed again. The mouth is now plusher and now earthier than before. This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot. Wow, what a ripe nose, showing ripe blackberry, black plum, with rich fruit, graphite, and lovely black fruit. This wine is young, too young, it needs 8 hours to open properly, with time the wine’s mouth opens fully, showing a full-bodied wine that is ripe, green, with good menthol, tobacco galore, good earth, the acid does show eventually, but I wish it had more, with a nice weight, good fruit, lovely layers, and mouth coating tannin, that make the wine show plush, but again, this wine really needs to be left alone for a long time. The finish is long, green, and earthy, with tobacco, chocolate, and rich green notes. This is a Parker style wine and one that really is pushed but has potential. My guess is that this wine will get a higher score in 5 years, right now it is crazy young. Drink from 2022 to 2030.
2015 Virginie de Valandraud, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: 93
This wine is 100% Merlot and the third kosher release from Valandraud in this label. This is the fourth time I have had the one.
The nose on this wine is nuts, showing rich salinity, almost soy sauce, lovely umami, ripe blackberry, with tons of green notes, with raspberry, and rich menthol, and sweet dill, with rich herb and tar, and smoke. The mouth on this full-bodied wine reminds me of the 2013 Four Gates Merlot, with rich acid, lovely spicy fruit, showing rich layers of chocolate, red currant, cassis, with spicy oak, mint galore, rich dark plum, and earth, with layers of dirt, loam, and green notes galore, all wrapped in mouth coating tannin and a plush yet tannic mouthfeel. The finish is long, green, earthy, and fruity, with chocolate, fat Cuban cigar, and forest floor, with hints of mushroom and more green notes lingering. Bravo! Drink from 2022 till 2030.
2017 Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 93 to 94
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. The wine starts off very closed, but still, at the opening, all the secondary notes are indeed still there. With time, the fruit comes out. The nose on this wine is crazy, really lovely, exceptional with true expression, showing incredibly with soy sauce, serrano pepper, with crazy green notes, herbal, with saline, smoke, and crazy green foliage, with mint, stone, rock, and loam. With time, the nose shows riper, with black and red fruit, followed by the lovely mineral and herb of earlier. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied plus wine is pure elegance, it will not hit you over the head with fruit and extraction, it has layers of elegance with layers of foliage, red fruit, herb, raspberry, plum, and dark cherry, with cassis, and loads of tar and smoke, with layers of fruit, tobacco, and herb, and crazy acid, with extraction, and mouth draping tannin. The finish is long, green, garrigue, with crazy foliage, and tobacco, dark chocolate, more tart cherry, and earth, with mushroom, and herb. Bravo! Drink from 2021 until 2030.
2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac–Leognan, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 95
Tasting this again now not too much has changed in its youth, but what has changed is its expressiveness is more apparent at this point, though it is still a few years away.
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.
Posted on March 2, 2020, in Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur, Chateau de Valois, Chateau la Tour de By, Chateau Labegorce, Chateau Lafon Rochet, Chateau Leydet-Valentin, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Chateau Tour de Barrail, Chateau Tour du Bosquay, Clos des Lunes, Grand Cru, Grand Cru Classe, Heritage, Les Vins IDS, Lune D'Argent, Marc Pages, Margaux, Medoc, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Estephe, Virginie de Valandraud. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
I whole heartedly agree with you. IDS puts out great products and Benjamin Uzan is a gem of a guy.
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