Tasting of Royal Wine’s 2018 and some 2019 French wines in California

Well, it is official, 2020 continues to take, and though my annoyances are minor in comparison to the pain others are feeling, it still has impacted my routine, which I guess is the story of 2020. For the past three years, I have been tasting Royal’s latest wines with the man in France for Royal, Menahem Israelievitch. Sadly, this year, no matter how much I planned and tried, it is a no go. So, for the first time, in a long time, the tasting will be here in Cali and it will only be a small part of the 2018 and 2019 wines, such is life.

So, no there will not be a picture with all the wines, and some of the wines from last year are still not here right now! But, I will post here what I did taste so far, and my overall feeling of the 2018 and 2019 vintages.

In a previous post about the most recent French wines (at that time in 2017) that were arriving on the market – I already spoke about pricing and supply, so there is no need to talk that over again in this post.

While the 2015 and 2016 vintages were ripe, and the 2017 vintage was not ripe at all, the 2018 vintage makes the 2015 ripeness look tame! Now that is a very broad-stroke statement that cannot be used uniformly, but for the most part, go with it!

I see no reason to repeat what Decanter did – so please read this and I will repeat a few highlights below.

For a start, the drought came later in 2018,’ says Marchal, pointing out that early July saw less rain in 2016. ‘But when it came in 2018, it was more abrupt, with the green growth stopping across the whole region at pretty much the same time’. He sees it closer to 2009, but with more density to the fruit. … and high alcohols!

Alcohols will be highest on cooler soils that needed a long time to ripen, so the Côtes, the Satellites, and the cooler parts of St-Emilion have alcohols at 14.5-15%abv and more. I heard of one Cabernet Franc coming in at 16.5%abv, but that is an exception. In earlier-ripening areas, such as Pessac-Léognan and Pomerol, alcohols are likely to be more balanced at 13.5% or 14%abv, as they will have reached full phenolic ripeness earlier.

‘Pessac-Léognan did the best perhaps because it’s an early ripening site,’ said Marie-Laurence Porte of Enosens, ‘so they were able to get grapes in before over-concentration. If you had to wait for phenolic ripeness, that is where things could get difficult’.

The final averages per grape, according to Fabien Faget of Enosens, are Sauvignon Blanc 13.5%abv, Sémillon 12.5%abv, Merlot 14.5%abv, and Cabernet Sauvignon 14%abv’.

The Mevushal push, from Royal wines, is continuing for the USA labels, a fact I wonder about more and more. Look, if you are going to force Mevushal wine down our throats, why not import BOTH? If you look at the numbers for wines like we will taste in the post, the majority of the buyers are not restaurants or caterers. Sorry! No matter how much Royal Wines wants to fool itself into thinking. Throw in COVID and FORGET about this INSANITY, please! I beg of you!

There is no denying that it affects the wine, it does. I have tasted the Chateau Le Crock side by side, the Mevushal, and non-Mevushal and while I feel that Royal does a good job with the boiling, it is still affected. If you want to have Mevushal wines in the USA, then bring them BOTH in! Royal does this for Capcanes Peraj Petita and the undrinkable Edom and others in Israel. So what Royal is saying is – that could not sell the Chateau Le Crock numbers that they import into the USA without boiling it? Why else would they feel forced to boil it and import it if not otherwise? To me, it makes me sad, and in a way, it disrespects what Royal is trying to do to its French wine portfolio, IMHO. They should, at minimum, import both! Allow for the caterers and restaurants (like anyone needs that nowadays – HUH???) to have the Mevushal version and sell the non-mevushal version to us, as you do with Edom and Petita. There I have stated my peace, I am 100% sure I will be ignored – but I have tried!

The Mevushal wines from France for the 2018/2019 vintage will be, the 2018 Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc, 2018 Chateau Greysac, 2018 Chateau Chateau de Parsac, 2018 Les Lauriers, Des Domaines Edmond de Rothschild, 2018 Chateau Le Crock, 2019 Chateau Les Riganes, Red, 2018 Chateau Genlaire, along with the whites wines, the 2019 Bourgogne Les Truffieres, Chardonnay, the 2019 Les Marronniers, Chablis,  and the 2019 Chateau Les Riganes, Blanc.

Now does mevushal impede the long-term viability of aging in regards to the wine? Well, that too is not something that we have scientific proof of. I have tasted a mevushal 1999 Herzog Special Edition and it was aging beautifully! So, would I buy the mevushal versions of the wines I tasted below – yes! Would I age them? Yes, I would hold them for slightly fewer years.

Other than the mevushal aspect, there are no differences between the European version of the wines and the USA version of the wines. While that sounds obvious, I am just stating it here. The wines will be shipped now and the temperature issues that affected Israel’s wines of old, have not been a factor here.

The “other” wines not here yet or I have not had

There is the just-released 2018 Château Cantenac Brown Margaux (will post that when I get it), along with these yet unreleased wines. The 2019 Chateau Gazin Blanc (2018 was/is INCREDIBLE), 2018 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, 2018 Château Meyney Saint Estèphe, 2018 Chateau Giscours, 2018 Chateau Lascombes, 2018 Chatyeau Tertre, and 2018 Chateau Royaumont.

I understand this is a sub-optimal situation and blog post. It does not cover Royal’s 2018/2019 European wine portfolio. Still, it covers what has been released (or very close to it), here in the USA, and hopefully, it will help you. One day soon, I hope and pray, things will return to some semblance of normalcy, and we will all travel around again. Until then, this is the best I can do. Stay safe!

Final comments, disclaimer, and warnings

First, there are a TON of QPR winners but there are also a LOT of good wines that I will be buying. Please NOTE vintages. The 20016 Haut Condissas is a disaster while the 2017 vintage is fantastic! So, please be careful!

These wines are widely available in the USA, so support your local wine stores folks – they need your help! If you live in a wine-drinking desert, like California, support the online/shipping folks on the side of this blog. They are folks I buy from (as always – I NEVER get a bonus/kickback for your purchases – NOT MY STYLE)!

Sadly, there was no plane trip, no hotels, no restaurants, nothing. So, no trip to talk about – just the wines and my lovely home! Stay safe all and here are the wines I have had so far. I have also posted many scores of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 wines which are still for sale here in the USA. My many thanks to Royal Wine for their help in procuring some of these wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

Dry White Wines

2018 Les Marronniers Chablis (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: EVEN)
Sadly, as I continue to watch this wine evolve I feel it is not a wine that I will stock up on. This and the 1er Cru, sadly. The reason is that the wine keeps losing acidity as it ages. We opened the wine on Friday afternoon and by Shabbat morning the acidity was far removed from where it was on Friday and that feels further removed from my notes and memories of a year ago.
This wine is made with native yeasts and as little manipulation as possible. The nose on this wine is beautiful with orange blossom, yellow apple, and rosehip, with lemon curd, and yeasty and creamy notes. The mouth is still lovely, but the last three times, 2018 is not as good as when I had it in France. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is fun, the acidity is not nearly as intense as in the past year, showing nice saline, with lovely layers of sweet Meyer lemon, grapefruit, with quince, and pie crust, with Anjou pear, and nice peach. The finish is long, crazy long, almost oily, with baked pear and apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and loads of mineral, with slate, rock, and saline. Sadly, as I state above the acidity dies in a few hours, so while I love the wine to start, it is not for long holding. Drink until 2022.

2018 Les Marronniers Chablis, Premier Cru, Cote de Jouan – Score: 91 (QPR: POOR)
Sadly, as I continue to watch this wine evolve I feel it is not a wine that I will stock up on. This and the 1er Cru, sadly. The reason is that the wine keeps losing acidity as it ages. We opened the wine on Friday afternoon and by Shabbat morning the acidity was far removed from where it was on Friday and that feels further removed from my notes and memories of a year ago. The nose on this lovely wine has finally opened and now it is showing well. The nose on this wine showing lovely notes of mad floral notes, starting with rosehip and yellow flowers, followed by nice minerals, slate, blossom water, and loads of citrus, with apple, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich, layered, and impressive, with a rich oily mouthfeel, showing a lovely weight, with yellow apple, tart citrus, Asian Pear, nice peach/apricot, with beautiful acidity that is well integrated with a strong mineral core, showing Orange pith, with tart citrus and slate and yellow plum, with saline, and more earth and hints of nectarines and orange. Sadly, as I state above the acidity dies in a few hours, so while I love the wine to start, it is not for long holding. Drink until 2022.

2019 Chateau de Santenay, Mercurey, Les Bois de Lalier – Score: 92 (QPR: POOR)
I love the evolution this wine undergoes over a few hours and yes, this wine is ready to enjoy, but it is not at peak and it can indeed enjoy a year or two of sleep. Still, one of the TRUE joys of wine drinking is watching a wine evolve, which is why I hate decanting, aeration, or any of the many ways to speed up father Time.
This wine starts closed, but with 30 minutes, it opens to a true classic Burgundy. Still, if you had me guess I would have said a Four Gates Chard, maybe 2002, 2004, or 2017. Still, the wine is lovely and as time evolves it starts to show what makes its special – Burgundy!
The nose starts with classic notes of white Burgundy, with peach, saline, green apple, and classic oaky notes. With time, that changes to show what lies ahead, with lovely yellow pear, orange apple, nectarine, lemon blossom, rich salinity, and lovely loam and oak. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is asking for thought, it is layered, ripe, yet balanced, showing great acidity and mouth-draping with an utter elegance that is incredible, the oak, sweet fruit, green apple, peel, with rich orange rind, tangerine notes, followed by roasted nuts, toast, brioche, and sweet oaky goodness that wraps the mouth with a richness and weight and brings to thought many of the great chards of the past. The finish is long, green, sweet, and joyous, with sweet orange, more floral notes, sweet oak, almond, nuts, citrus zest, and rich mineral, yellow plum, hay, but it is the piercing acidity, rich salinity, lovely fruit, and incredible yet well-balanced oak/Brioche, with nutty notes that make this wine quite impressive.
While this wine does fall off a bit the next day, by losing its acidity, it still keeps its unctuous and rich mouthfeel, without loads of oak. While I feel uneasy, the wine is solid, and while the acidity is not the same as when it was opened it is still a lovely wine. Drink until 2025.

2018 Jean-Pierre Bailly Pouilly-Fume – Score: 91 to 92 (QPR: EVEN)
While this wine is nice enough it is two quintiles higher in price than the median and as such even with a quality score higher than the median it should have received a score of POOR for QPR, however, it is in the second quintile for quality as well. Therefore, it is dead even.
The nose and mouth on this wine are more tropical and is a slight step behind the 2017 vintage, which we tasted side-by-side. The nose on this wine shows nicely, but the tropical fruit peeks out with hints of mango, melon while showing nicely with mineral, and chalk, green apple, and loads of floral notes. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, layered, rich, and complex, with crazy grapefruit, lovely mineral, slate, and green apple, with Asian pear, but also with a bit too much tropical notes of melon, and hints of pineapple. The finish is long, and green with lemongrass, nice saline, and mineral, but not as much as the 2017 vintage, with stone fruit, more tropical notes, and citrus galore. Bravo!!! Drink until 2022.

2018 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt, Blanc, Pessac-Legonan – Score: 93 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was made from the middle of the press, not at the start or the end. Battonage was done twice to three times a week. The nose on this wine is an oak city, with so much oak that I can barely smell fruit, under the oak you can find green apple, quince, lemon Fraiche, and loads of smoke. The mouth on this wine is nuts, with layers upon layers, of pure oak, rich extraction of oak and fruit, smoke, toast galore, with baked Anju pear, yellow apple, fresh-baked pie of lemon and creamy whipped creme, with butter-laden brioche, with loads of acidity that balances it all out. The finish is long, oaky, creamy, with quince, toast, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger with lemongrass, and more smoke. This is certifiably nuts wine. Drink from 2023 until 2028. Wow!

2017 Pascal Bouchard Chablis, le Classique (M) – Score: 88 (QPR: BAD)
The nose on this wine is nice enough, showing notes of smoke, green notes, green apple, quince, lemongrass, and pear. The mouth on this light to medium-bodied wine is nice enough, but the fruit is less focussed, though the acid is nice, with orange pith, orange notes, and the mineral of saline and slate, is nice. Drink until 2024.

2019 Domaine De Panquelaine Coteaux Du Giennois Sauvignon Blanc – Score: 90 (Mevushal) (QPR: GREAT)
This wine is above the Median line for quality and it is below the median price, so this lands a GREAT QPR score.
The nose on this wine takes a bit of time to open, but once it does it has lovely notes of minerality, nice pith, flinty notes, with yellow plum, floral notes, lemongrass, and citrus. The mouth on this light to medium-bodied wine is nice, really refreshing, elegant in its simplicity, and that is its only con, yes it is nice, even cool with lovely refreshing notes of flint, solid to really good acidity, lemongrass, grapefruit, hints of peach, yellow plum, with lovely deep-rooted grapefruit/lemon, but it does not have the complexity to take it above the score, and it has a bit of a hollow in the middle. The finish is lovely, again refreshing, a bit fatty/round, with more of that yellow to pink grapefruit, with great flint/rock, smoke, and nice acidity that lingers long, with orange blossom. Nice! Drink now.

2019 Domaine De Panquelaine Sancerre – Score: 85 (Mevushal) (QPR: POOR)
Sadly, this wine is below the Median line for quality and it is more expensive than the median price, so this lands it as a POOR QPR wine.
This wine is not as fun as the Coteaux Du Giennois. This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc like all Sancerre, sadly, this lacks the MOST important aspect of Sancerre, teeth-gnashing acidity, this one barely has any.
The nose on this wine is really lacking, it has a bit of what can only be described as oak, but Sancerre has no oak, followed by lemon and maybe a drop of white peach, but really boring with some minerality. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine follows the nose with a bit of acidity, some peach, and grapefruit, with almond pith and that is about it. This is not evil but really not much there. Drink Now.

2019 Chateau Les Riganes Blanc – Score: 86 (Mevushal) (QPR: EVEN)
This wine is below the Median line for quality and it is below the median price, so this lands an EVEN QPR score.
I was hoping for another home run from this chateau, and sadly this vintage lacks the acid of 2018. The nose on this wine is lovely but closed with orange pith, orange notes, apple, and orange blossom, ginger, with mineral in the background. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice but flat, with no acid, what it has instead is a load of pith and mineral, followed by gooseberry, straw, mineral, and more floral notes, with orange, nectarines, and more pith. Drink Soon.

2018 Domaine Ternynck Bourgogne, Les Truffieres (M) – Score: 89 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose on this wine is pure baked goods, with night jasmine and Orange blossom, along with hints of orange and herb. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, with rich salinity, herb galore, with roasted mint, oregano, and orange, and nectarine, with sweet notes but well balanced. The finish is long, sweet, ripe, and yet well balanced, with great acidity, saline, with crazy herbs, Orange pith, grapefruit, and slate, with wet rock, and earth. Nice!! Drink soon.

2017 Chateau Guiraud ‘G’, Sec – Score: 92 (QPR: GOOD)
Finally, a French white I can appreciate! This is fun, the wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine has evolved over the last 2 years of its release. The wine has opened up but it is still a bit closed. If you have kept your wine well, it is a bit closed like mine, if you did not do as good a job, then indeed it is ready for enjoying.
At the start, my wine is still closed, but with a couple of hours, the nose opens to a different profile than in the past, showing a crazy almost New Zealand-like aroma, with intense gooseberry, followed by a still-lovely Semillon funk, followed by wax, green notes, mineral, old-world notes, very floral and sweet honeysuckle, quince, lovely straw, and rich minerality. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is fun, with more funk, nice complexity, with rich salinity, followed by rich dry and tart Asian pear, honeydew, with nice gooseberry, and graphite. The finish is long and green, with lemongrass, stone, rock, slate, Sweet citrus zest, with more wax and flint. Bravo! Drink by 2023.

Red Wines ordered by Vintage and QPR

2014 Chateau Rollan de By (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
The wine is nice, especially for a Mevushal wine, showing classic Bordeaux notes while also being riper than I would have expected for a 2014 wine, which I associate with the Mevushal process of Taieb (Royal’s approach is better).
The nose is ripe and green, with ripe blackberry, plum, rich loam, freshly tilled earth, and lovely foliage, with hints of mushroom, and mineral. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nicely layered, but the graphite/mineral/and rich mouth-drying tannin take center stage, with roasted meat, tar, and black fruit filling out the mouth, showing blackberry, cassis, and dried plum, with tobacco, nice extraction, and more earth. The finish is long and mineral-focused, with rich herb, foliage, forest floor, menthol, and gnarly pith that gives way to smooth bitterness with time, nuts, and slate. Nice! Drink until 2025.

2015 Chateau La Clare, Medoc (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
To call this just a good QPR is where my system does fail me a bit. I will not get into the complexities of Medians, again, but the reason why this wine does not garner a QPR score of GREAT or WINNER is because of Median. The Median score for this class of wine, that being a long aging wine, is 92 and while I like this wine, it “only” got a 91. Sadly, GREAT or WINNER require a median score and this wine does not meet that need. Still, I bought many to put aside, because there will be no La Clare (that I would buy) for a few years.
WOW! This is a fun wine, this is very young and it is already showing the kind of styling I crave. The nose on this wine is fruity, it is not a 2013 vintage, the 2015 vintage was hot, but at 13.5% ABV, it has the control and grace I crave, while also having the fruit and minerality that makes this a fun wine and a keeper for a good many years.
The label says this wine is a blend of 45% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot (I was impressed they could fit that all on a single line!)The nose on this wine is lovely, showing notes of violet, beautiful saline, mineral, asphalt, with a black and red fruit perfume, followed by more fruit that comes out over time, with lovely forest floor, mushroom, and roasted herb, yum! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine clearly gained by the 2015 vintage, I can see where this wine would be in the 2014 vintage, more of a simple rustic wine. with the 2015 heat, this wine has gained much showing lovely cranberry, strawberry, and cherry, with clear blackberry and blackcurrant in the background, followed by layers of concentrated fruit, gripping tannin, lovely saline, black olives, and sea salt, with loads of mineral, spice, and sweet oak, lovely. The finish is long, and bright, with lovely acidity, but now showing its more black and brooding fruit, still well balanced with the saline, intense acidity, impressive green notes, menthol, foliage, more roasted herbs, mint, and oregano, with hints of leather, which is impressive for a medium-bodied wine, with tar, and tobacco. Enjoy!! Bravo!! Drink from 2022 until 2030.

2016 Chateau Lamothe-Cissac, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. This is a fun wine, remember that we have not yet seen the big wines of 2016. As I have said many times on this blog, the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux may well be better than the 2015 vintage! For now, the few 2016 reds we have seen from Bordeaux are showing nicely.
The nose on this wine shows very nicely with rich loam, dirt, green notes, followed by bright and big black fruit, with hints of mushroom in the background, lovely mint, and menthol notes abound as well. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is fun and alive, with screaming acid, that gives way to intense tannin that is soft and yet rich and mouth-coating, with great fruit focus, showing blackcurrant, blackberry, with red cherry, and olives, that give way to green notes, mouth scraping mineral, foliage, and tobacco. The finish is long and green, at the start it is a bit too astringent and green to truly enjoy, with time it comes around with nice spice, earth, graphite, sour notes, more red and black fruit, and a nice coffee/chocolate mix. Nice! It can be drunk now, but to really appreciate it, I would decant it for a good 3 hours, to cut some of the green and astringent notes. Drink now (with decanting) till 2027.

2016 Les Roches de Yon-Figeac, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: 92 to 93 (QPR: WINNER)
Lovely nose, really rich with salinity, unique, and loads of roasted herb, followed by tar, and lovely smoke with blackcurrant, and spice. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich and layered, with classic stylings, showing loads of oregano, cloves, and tobacco, followed by layers of cranberry, blackberry, dried plum, and rich spices, all wrapped in rich herbal structure and mouth-drying tannin that gives the wine a lovely fruit focus and rich acidity and lovely olives. The finish is long and tart and rich, with acid, tannin, and crazy salinity lingering long, with loads of herb, leather, tobacco, and spice. Bravo!! Drink from 2022 till 2030.

2016 Barons Edmund Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc (M) – Score: 91 to 92 (QPR: GREAT)
This is the first vintage with a new consultant team, Eric Boisssenot. This vintage is the 30th anniversary of this wine being made by Royal in conjunction with Barons de Rothschild. This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is bright and dark, with brooding dark fruit, backed by tart red fruit, very professional and stylistic of the 2016 vintage. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is lovely, well made, round, and yet complex, with layers of blackberry, dark plum, tart raspberry, with searing mouth-drying tannin, and still plush in the mouth, with a great balance of acid and tannin, with dark fruit, and earth and loam galore. The finish is long and tart and a mineral monster, with loads of black olives, nice control of foliage, tobacco, and rich salinity, with graphite, pencil shavings, and lovely dirt, and hints of the forest floor. Bravo! This may be the best Rothschild since the 2010 vintage. Drink from 2020 till 2027.

2016 Ramon Cardova Rioja, Old Vines, Limited Edition – Score: 90 (QPR: GREAT)
I tasted this 3 years ago when it was made, in an early release, and just like then, this wine was slow to open, I was off on my window by maybe a year. The wine starts with intense oak, insane sweet dill, and loads of sweet ripe fruit. With time, like 4 years ago, the fruitiness calms down, and the notes are very much the same.
This is the first-ever special edition for the Ramon Cardova wines. The nose on this wine starts with just blue fruit and lovely roasted animal, after time, the wine turns to crazy umami, with rich salinity, and mad soy sauce, followed by incredible boysenberry, juicy blueberry, and mad dark fruit. The mouth on this rich full-bodied wine is layered and rich, with mad dark fruit that is pushed a bit for me, showing hints of a fruit bomb with a candied fig, and candied cranberry that gives way to blackberry, and layers of concentrated fruit. The finish is long and sweet, with really ripe fruit, loads of terroir, dirt, loam, and tar, that has potential, with crazy leather and cigar smoke. The wine is riper, at this time than I would like, we will see if it opens more with time tonight or tomorrow.
OK, tomorrow has come, and yes, the wine has claimed down significantly, it is now not a fruit-bomb, but it is also not much of anything. It feels like it fell off the cliff. The nose is far more muted, all it has now is the uni-dimensional note of tar, graphite, loads of blackcurrant, bramble, and ripe blue fruit, both on the nose and mouth. The mouth is not layered or complex, it has highly ripe and candied blueberry and blackberry fruit, with some of that tar and graphite/charcoal, and not much else, other than bitter notes from the charcoal. Drink from 2020 till 2025.

2016 Chateau Saint-Corbian, Saint-Estephe – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
This is the second time I have tasted this wine, and not much has changed, but the blackcurrant continues to dominate. This wine is a blend of something like 50/50 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The nose on this wine is screaming blackcurrant, with rich black fruit, loads of roasted herb, licorice galore, dark chocolate, and mounds of loamy dirt. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, with good extraction, showing rich fruit, more dark raspberry, rich earth, cranberry, more blackcurrant, followed by crazy roasted herb, oregano, rosemary, nice Menthol, and dried mint, with nice cloves and salinity. The finish is long and simple with good herb, spice, and currant lingering long with saline and tobacco. Nice. Drink from 2022 to 2030.

2016 Chateau Giscours, Margaux, Grand Clu Classe – Score: 93 to 94 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine is crazy blue and black, with loads of blackberry, dark plum, and herb galore, with licorice, and mineral. The mouth on this full-bodied Margaux is lovely, rich, layered, and controlled, better than the 2015 vintage, with rich fruit, showing layers of fruit, earth, lovely control, and impressive tart fruit, showing chocolate, coffee, and earth that gives way to mushroom, spice, layers of concentrated fruit, all wrapped in incredible elegance and control, showing layers of dark and red fruit, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and incredible mouth-coating tannin, with earth, mushroom, and forest floor, with foliage, and licorice. The finish is long, green, herbal, with tobacco, showing leather, and mint. Bravo!! Drink from 2022 until 2032.

2016 Chateau Lascombes, Margaux, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 94 (QPR: EVEN)
The 2016 vintage continues the soy sauce madness of the 2015 vintage, with more power, loads of umami, salinity galore, with blue fruit, and rich herb, with coffee, and spice. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is a powerhouse, showing incredible control, unbelievable, with rich saline, layers upon layers of concentrated blueberry, blackberry, dark cherry, and red currant, that give way to earth, spice, green notes galore, with chocolate, and deep concentration and depth. The finish is long with layers of mouth-draping tannin, rich earth, and chocolate, with mushroom, forest floor, foliage, cigar, and sweet dill lingering long. Bravo!!! Drink from 2021 until 2032. Bravo!!!!

2016 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere, Pessac-Leognan, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 94 (QPR: EVEN)
The 2016 Malartic-Lagraviere is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot (at least in the non-kosher version). Wow, the nose is really ripe, not what I expect from a Malartic, but still lovely, with chocolate, black fruit, earth, and lovely hints of umami, with sweet oak, earth, and sweet blue fruit. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, layered, and concentrated with nice control, expressive, with blackberry, blueberry, and what a change, Malartic with blueberry! Showing more raspberry, earth, and rich fruit, with a truly incredible plushness, that gives way to a rich mouth coating tannin that drapes and lifts the mouth, showing a precision, and an incredible professional touch, with plush fruit, loam, and lovely saline. The finish is long, and plush, with more blue, green, and red fruit, with leather, and power that belies its youth, a wine that will push long into its life, with tannin, licorice, and graphite/mineral that lingers long, Bravo!! Drink from 2025 until 2035.

2016 Chateau Du Tertre, Margaux, Grand Clu Classe – Score: 93 to 94 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This wine is not the same old same old Margaux, it is really a unique one, with crazy smoke, tar, and blue fruit that is ripe but super controlled with lovely red fruit, herbs, and crazy foliage that gives way to dirt, and more smoke. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is crazy, finesse and elegance, with loads of blueberry, cassis, raspberry, all wrapped together with green notes, massive extraction, and rich salinity, that gives way to layers of extraction and concentrated fruit, that is both juicy and tart, with foliage, showing lovely foliage, with more turned loam, earth, and cigar tobacco. The finish is long, green, herbal, and smoky, with more leather and spice. Bravo!!! Drink from 2023 till 2032.

2016 Chateau Rollan de By, Medoc (M) – Score: 87 (QPR: BAD)
This is ripe really ripe, with juicy red fruit, followed by menthol, earth, spice, and smoke. The mouth on this Mevushal wine is cooked, sorry, it is not a fun wine, it is full-bodied but wow is it pushed, fruit-forward, and yes, has hints of date, with loads of tannin, structure, and not much else.

2016 Chateau Tour Seran, Medoc (M) – Score: 88 (QPR: BAD)
Another ripe wine, I cannot handle this, better than the Rollan, but still riper than it should be, but really a red wine that is a total mess and not really worth writing more about it.

2016 Chateau La Clare, Medoc (M) – Score: 85 (QPR: BAD)
This wine is an oak bomb with a hint of date and really no balance, with menthol, smoke, and not much else. This wine is worse than the other two wines and that is saying something, it has no balance, tannin all over the place, and no elegance. Next.

2016 Chateau Haut Condissas, Prestige, Medoc – Score: 87 (QPR: BAD)
This is another miss, I have no idea what happened, the nose is ripe, hot, all over the place, and I really cannot understand what happened. So sad, move on.

2017 Chateau Haut Condissas, Medoc, Prestige – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is incredible – so happy it was managed by Royal and Menachem Israelavitch, this wine makes up for the MASSIVE dud that was the 2016 vintage.
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. The nose of this wine is lovely, dirt, earth, tar, and mineral are the primary notes, even before the fruit, then the fruit comes in with currant, raspberry, cherry, and loads of earth, garrigue, and mad green notes of menthol, and spices. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is where the black fruit comes to play, there you will find lovely blackberry, cassis, lovely spices of cloves, cumin, and then comes the layers upon layers of concentrated fruit, smoke, crazy roasted herbs, more menthol, mint, with crazy graphite, nice acidity, a real fruit focus, and concentration, not heavily extracted but focused, with lovely saline, green/black olives, and rich dirt/loam. The finish is incredible, all wrapped in a rich and textured mouth coating tannin, with soy sauce, lovely mushrooms, and a richness that is not over the top, but unctuous and captivating with graphite, dirt, and tar, wrapped in rock and sweet tobacco, all giving way to black and red fruit, more smoke, concentration, and focus, with garrigue, and earth. Bravo!!! Drink from 2023 until 2032.

2017 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande de Pomerol – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
The wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. I liked the 2016 vintage but this one may be better! The nose on this wine is pure hedonism, with incredible soy sauce, mushroom, and loads of umami, with crazy smoke, blueberry, earth, mineral galore, and black fruit, with herbs. WOW!!! The mouth on this wine carries the umami madness, with a richness in the mouth that is plush, and layered with less mushroom and more truffles, with loads of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, smoke, mineral, all wrapped in a rich, layered, umami madness, with tobacco mineral, graphite joy, wow!! Incredible. The wine is ripe, and the voluptuous mouthfeel comes from the combination of oak, ripe fruit, mushroom, and mineral, it will be fun to see this one in three years. The finish on this wine is nuts, layered and ripe, with smoke, mushroom, and tobacco, graphite, charcoal, and more mushroom. Bravo!! Drink from 2021 until 2028. This can be drunk almost now, but it needs time to be appreciated.

2017 Les Roches de Yon-Figeac, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru – Score: 93 to 94 (QPR: WINNER)
This is great, the Royaumont is mushroom and soy sauce and the Les Roches de Yon-Figeac is mushroom and barnyard heaven, it is insane. The nose on this wine is crazy barnyard, mushroom, forest floor, with freshly tilled earth, followed by a stick of graphite right in the eye, with crazy salinity, and loads of black fruit, wow! The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is really fun, layered, with squid-ink notes, with layers upon layers of plush and rich fruit structure, with incredible acidity, salinity, and graphite core, with crazy blackberry, blackcurrant, with dark berries, and smoke, with graphite taking center stage, followed by intense acid, and more mineral, with layers of earth, and lovely roasted herb, and screaming tannin structure that will last for a long time. The finish si long, green and ripe, with mineral at its core, followed by more squid ink, plushness that belies the searing tannin, and a fruit structure that lasts forever. Incredible! Bravo! Drink from 2023 until 2030.

2017 Chevalier de Lascombes, Margaux – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This is a classic slutty Margaux, with clear notes of mushroom, earth, but upfront it is ripe, really ripe, with a classic hedonism bent, showing soy sauce, umami, and clear tar. The mouth on this wine is ripe, with clear control, lovely balance, and crazy mushroom and umami, with dark raspberry, plum, boysenberry, and hints of strawberry, with loads of juicy ripe fruit, balanced with acid, saline, mouth coating tannin, and loads of earth, incredible. The finish is long, green, and yet ripe, with more juicy ripe fruit, soy sauce, mushroom sauce, forest floor, and a tannin structure that hurts to taste, with graphite, pencil, tar, and loads of tilled earth. Bravo!! Drink from 2023 until 2030.

2017 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt, Pessac-Legonan – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. The nose on this wine is truly lovely, showing notes of pure mineral, with umami, smoke, soy sauce, milk chocolate, and mushroom notes, lovely! The mouth on this full-bodied wine is lovely, with loads of mushroom, forest floor, with blackberry, cherry, raspberry, licorice, and pepper, followed by a core of mineral and saline, with a mouth draping tannin structure and lovely fruit structure with complexity and earth. The finish is long, green, complex, mineral-driven, and tar loaded with earth, tobacco, leather, and graphite. Bravo!!! To me, this could have been Malartic 2017 and I would have said sure. Wow! Buy this up!! Drink from 2023 until 2028.

2017 Chateau Moulin Riche, Saint-Julien – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is another superstar which is saying a lot for the quasi-poor 2017 vintage. Of course, the price would not tell you that 2017 was a somewhat off year, yes the wine does not show it, and I guess the price does not either.
The nose on this wine is lovely, ripe, rich, well balanced, with really fun, crazy menthol, graphite galore, black, and red fruit screaming for attention, with crazy brightness, followed, by loads of smoke, tar, licorice, and earth, lovely. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, with layers of velvet coated fruit, showing blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, all at the same time, with the complexity of fruit focus, finesse, and power, that brings with it spices, cinnamon, cloves, and earth, wrapped in mouth-draping tannin, bracing acidity, loads of roasted herb, oregano, and loads of graphite. The finish is long, green, extremely well balanced, plush and juicy, with sweet but incredible fruit, showing a rich luxurious wine, with sweet tobacco, green notes, garrigue, drying tannins, and chocolate-covered coffee beans, with sweet fruit peeking out from under the crazy acid, graphite-based wine. Impressive. Drink this wine from 2024 until 2032.

2017 Les Lauriers de Rothschild, Montagne Saint-Emilion (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
The wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. This may be the first red Lauriers wine that I like. The nose on this wine is violet, night flowers, with a rich perfume of red fruit, berries, forest floor, and earth galore. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has a slight hole in the middle, with lovely layers of fruit and tannin, showing good extraction, with smoke, tobacco, toast, and loads of roasted herb, followed by cranberry, hints of pomegranate, dark cherry, and loads of roasted herb, foliage, and more green notes. The finish is long, green, herbal, with smoke, toast, lovely smoking tobacco, and nice graphite, with mineral notes, and herbs. Bravo! Drink until 2023.

2017 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, Listrac-Medoc – Score: 91 to 92 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose is tar heaven, with pencil, graphite, and red and black fruit, with a bit of mushroom, forest floor, earth, and green notes, and roasted herb. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, layered, smoky, and earthy, with layers of pencil shavings, tar, blackberry, dark cherry, red fruit, and loads of mineral, with a lovely acid core, and a tannin structure that belies its youth, with fruit, and smoke galore. The finish is long, green, earthy, and mineral-driven, with graphite, garrigue, and earth, tobacco, and tar lingering long. Bravo! Drink from 2022 until 2030.

2017 Chateau Mayne Guyon, Blaye (M) – Score: 90 to 91 (QPR: GREAT)
This wine is a classically styled Blaye wine, not a wine that will blow you over, but nicer than I first thought when I tasted it last, and Mevushal. However, I must say, that the boring and simple Blaye wine really turns into a nice wine with a day or air, impressive.
This is now a year later since I tasted it and it is getting there, almost ready, but it still needs time to really come around. The nose on this wine is red, with a bit of earth, dirt, tons of smoke, tar, and fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, it has crazy acid, still showing tight fruit, mostly red with raspberry, dark cherry, and hints of dark plum, with very nice earth, some mineral, a bit of saline, and loads of green fruit and notes, with nice mouth-drying tannin, and tobacco. The finish is long, green, with enough red fruit, earth, hints of mushroom, herb, mint, and Oregano, with pencil shavings, and tart fruit. Nice!
With time, the wine changes to a more polished wine, with rich fruit on the nose and mouth. The wine never goes truly complex, but it adds layers of fruit, it adds a more polished and plush mouthfeel, and it rounds out the short finish and clunkiness that it shows at the start. If you must enjoy it now, please decant for a few hours. Drink from 2020 until 2023.

2017 Chateau Greysac, Medoc (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
This is the third time I have tasted this wine and the first time I had it, I was not impressed. The 2nd time I had it I liked it enough to try it again, and I do like this wine. This wine is a blend of 65% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.
The nose on this wine is quite nice, showing some fruit, but also showing some elegance and loads of control, with another hit after the good 2016 vintage, with the fruity Merlot coming out more at this point, with nice red fruit, followed by the spice and dirt of the Cab, and the lovely green notes of the Cab Franc, along with hints of lovely blue notes from the Verdot, with time the saline and graphite emerge nicely. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied is fun, layered and expressive, and slightly extracted, with a bit of oak for now, with ripe and fruity fruit profile, nice fruit focus, with rich mineral, saline, graphite, and earth galore, with smoke, tar, blackberry, blueberry, and toast with green notes. The finish is long, green, toasty, and spicy, with nice black fruit, earth, leather, tobacco, and licorice, with spicy notes, and good herbs. Drink from 2021 until 2028.

2017 Chateau D’Arveyres, Bordeaux Superieur (M) – Score: 89 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine shows of hot pepper, Jalapenos, and not much else, the Jalapenos take over, with hints of dirt. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is simple, with good structure, not showing any real fruit, with nice mouth-coating tannin, and loads of green notes, and smoke, with herbs, and mint. The finish is short and it is its flaw, with saline, green, crazy Jalapenos lingering long, with red fruit in the background. Nice. Drink now.

2017 Chateau La Tonnelle, Haut-Medoc – Score: 88 (QPR: EVEN)
I was hoping for another home run after the very good 2016 vintage, sadly, the 2017 vintage is not that good. The nose on this wine is all over the place, with hot peppers (something I have seen a few times now in 2017 Bordeaux), along with red fruit that is cold and black fruit that is hot, not a fun combo. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine does not help the cause, showing too much heat and ripe fruit, while also being a light to medium body and not showing a coherent profile, with ripe black fruit and tart and unripe almost green red fruit, just all over the place. Sad. Drink until 2025.

2017 Chateau Giscours, Margaux – Score: 93 to 94 (QPR: EVEN)
This is the elegant call-girl in comparison to Lascombes. The nose on this wine is black, almost purely black, with loads of blue fruit, and foliage/garrigue in the background, with black pepper, smoke, and loads of pencil shavings. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is layered, rich, plush, elegant, and so beautifully elegant, with a wonderful fruit-structure, showing a roundness that belies its mineral and acid core, which is plush, and tannin that is draping and not searing, with a presence that demands your attention and screams for focus, with a creamy texture and freshly tilled earth bringing it all together. The finish is long, green, smoky, with earth, sweet ripe fruit, with dark chocolate, tobacco, garrigue, and mineral that is impressive. Bravo!! Drink from 2024 until 2032.

2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Saint-Julien – Score: 93 to 94 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose is beautiful and well-controlled with crazy pencil shavings, with ripe fruit, with ripe and juicy red fruit. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is closed to start with layers upon layers of red fruit, with blackberry in the background, with mouth draping tannin, crazy mineral, pencil shavings galore, with plush elegance that is plush, mouth-coating, yet the ripeness in the background is ripe and scary, but hedonistic and voluptuous, with layers of tar, earth, licorice, pepper, and loads of tannin galore, showing elegance and plushness, with clear hedonistic leanings and graphite/acid core that makes it all work. The finish is long, black, green, and tannic, with plush fruit and smoke, with tobacco, chocolate, and earth galore. Bravo!! Drink from 2025 until 2033.

2017 Chateau de Parsac (M) – Score: 87 (QPR: EVEN)
Like much of 2017 this Bordeaux shows the classic notes of 2017 bords, jalapenos peppers, green notes galore, bell pepper, and green beans, with red fruit, loads of earth, and a bit simple, sadly. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has a simple style, with a nice-enough mouthfeel, nice tannin structure, with raspberry, loads of dirt, earth, loam, peppers, but it has a hole in the middle of the palette, maybe this wine will open up more and change. The finish is not so long, with more earth, good tannin that covers up the hole, with graphite, loam, cherry, currants, and smoke, nice enough. With time it opens but overall, the wine feels hollow still, and the green is too much. Drink until 2025.

2017 Chateau La Petit Chaban (M) – Score: 78 (QPR: N/A)
This wine is too simple, boring and while there is no flaw, there is nothing to get in this wine, showing a boring approach overall, with raspberry, earth, and not much else. Not enough acid and while the tannin was there it was not there for me. Worst of all the fruit gets riper as it opens, a true mess. Drink until 2022.

2018 Chateau Le Crock, Saint-Estephe (M) – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine, is deep dark beautiful notes of black and red fruit, with rich salinity, mineral galore, with lovely tar, smoke, and what I crave from French wine – DIRT, DIRT, and more dirt! The nose is lovely, with green notes lurking in the background, and lovely licorice.
So, while I have been unhappy with the 2018 vintage so far, this wine returns my hope for the vintage, this wine is better than 2016, and that IS SAYING a lot!
This wine is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. The 2018 vintage has more Cab in it and it smells blacker than 2016 in many more ways than just that. Lovely wine! The blueberry of the past is gone and all you get is this intense earth, dirt, smoke, along with some shockingly beautiful violet, black and red fruit bonanza, with ripples of minerality through it – bravo and this is the Mevushal version!
The mouth on this full-bodied beast is impressive, with rich extraction, like in 2016, deeply concentrated, yet with lovely finesse and elegance, showing a richness that belies its youth, with blackberry, dark, yet controlled, plum, dark raspberry, earth, cherry, smoke, and a mouth draping elegance in the tannin structure that is impressive for its youth, with a lovely plushness, with deep furrows of graphite, saline, and rock. The finish is long, not so green, there is a few green notes, more in the way of tobacco than in the way of foliage, but here the finish is about the dirt, loam, forest floor, smoke, and dark chocolate, with hints of oak, with crazy acidity, leather, all wrapped in roasted herbs that linger long and forever. Bravo!!! This is the best Chateau Le Crock, I have ever tasted, at least in regards to the Mevushal version! Drink from 2025 until 2037. Incredible!

2018 Chateau Signac, Pliocene, Cotes du Rhone – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
I have heard rumors that this wine was in decline. I am happy to report that the only thing in decline, in regards to this wine, is the ability of many, sadly in this case, to appreciate good wine.
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, with indigenous yeats. This is a nice wine, smoky, earthy, with loads of roasted meat, strawberry, dark plum, cherry, and more mineral notes. The mouth on this wine medium-bodied is loaded with blackcurrant, crazy smoke, more roasted animal, with lovely saline, rich tannin structure, with graphite, mineral, and lovely floral notes, well balanced with loads of spice, nutmeg, and cumin, with fruit, and more earth. The finish is long, sweet, super balanced, with smoke, earth, licorice, and root beer. Nice! Drink until 2024.

2018 Chateau Genlaire, Bordeaux Superieur – Score: 89 (QPR: GREAT)
This is a fun wine another winner in the sub 20 dollar wine category, we need much more of this in the kosher wine world. This is not a homerun wine, this is a lovely and simple wine that is what we need more of. This is the kind of wine that 2018 was built for, simple wine that the 2018 vintage raises nicely.
The nose on this wine is lovely, dirty, earthy, and smoky, with loads of green and red fruit, with hints of black fruit, followed by garrigue, and more earth, lovely. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has a lovely acid-core, with nice mineral, it is still too young I think, it needs time to come together in the next few months, with the acid calming a bit, once that happens the wine will show nicely, with raspberry, dark cherry, and hints of blackcurrant under a bed of dark chocolate, nice mouthcoating tannin, and green notes, with foliage, mineral, and slate showing well. The finish is long, green, with red fruit, with nice tannin, forest floor, graphite, and more garrigue. Nice! Drink by 2023.

2018 Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre, Saint Julien – Score: 92+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Merlot. The nose on this wine is heaven, another home run from the 2018 vintage, with lovely notes of cedar, cigar, smoke, lots of roasted herbs, but then comes the fruit, with blue/black and red fruit, showing a scary rich and fruity approach, but you can tell this is well controlled, better than the 2018 Clarke and for sure far better control than the 2018 Chateau Fontenil, with slight floral notes, but this is about deep and dark fruit. The nose does scare me a bit, not as much as the Clarke, but it is ripe, out of the gate, let us see where this goes over the day. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, there is no hiding from this, really ripe, again, not Clarke’s ripeness and not the Fontenil’s ripeness, but there is a lot of fruit here, with richer extraction and heat than the 2018 Chateau Le Crock, and while I love the overall fruit-focus and structure this does care me, again, we will revisit over the next day. The mouth is rich, deeply layered, and while it is ripe, it is still in balance with clear leanings towards blackcurrants, juicy and ripe boysenberry, rich and unctuous structure, with a plush and layered mouthfeel, showing lovely saline and smoke, smoking tobacco, rich and plush tannin, with loam, wet forest floor, smoke galore, earth, with nice acidity, and mushroom/truffle. The finish is long, green, earthy, smokey, with ripe fruit, really impressive focus of fruit and extraction, with dark chocolate, elegant, though ripe, with sweet spices, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, along with incredible minerality, that is akin to the Clarke, with schist, graphite, and saline. Bravo! This wine is even less accessible than 2018 Clarke and I think this needs a ton of time to come around. Drink from 2028 until 2036. Bravo!

2018 Chateau Montviel, Pomerol – Score: 91+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Out of the gate, this wine is less ripe than the 2018 Clarke or the Pavillion, which surprising me as Merlot in Bordeaux, especially the right bank is far riper than Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose on this wine has what I want, ripe fruit is fine, far more controlled, with hints of blueberry, along with cherry, black and red fruit, loam, rich spices, and forest floor, with sweet spices, and what I think of when I smell Benyo’s Merlot’s Cherry Cola and cigar smoke. With time the nose is equal with the mouth, in regards to the ripeness, this is not a wine that could stand up to the epic 2016 vintage, IMHO. The mouth on this full-bodied wine does show more ripeness than the nose, with layers of fruit, anise, ripe and juicy boysenberry, dark cherry, cola, more forest floor, with sweet green notes, sweet foliage, plush and velvety mouthfeel, that is more open than the other wines we had, with crazy tobacco, sweet spices, rich saline, graphite, and a tannin structure that is more accessible at this point. The finish is long and searing with intense tannin, great acidity, smoke, sweet oak, gripping, and yet accessible, but also showing this has loads of gas in the tank, with saline, graphite, rock, and sweet fruit to bring this all together. While I wanted this to be a WINNER, AKA 92 score above/at the median, this wine scares me too much. It is too ripe to get there. Maybe it will improve later, but for now, I will stick with a top below WINNER. Drink from 2025 until 2032.

2018 Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac – Score: 87 (QPR: EVEN)
The 2015 Fontenil still shocks me by its ripeness, this winery is straight-up NUTS, which is not shocking being that it is owned by Michel Roland or related to him, either way, it is ripe like all the wines he preaches. This vintage is the 2018 vintage and 2018 is far better than 2015, IMHO! It is more balanced, and even at 15.5% – ARE YOU kidding me – this wine has balance. The wine is 100% Merlot and yeah, Merlot is riper, in France than Cabernet Sauvignon.
This wine is ripe, there is no hiding from that and with time the crazy heat will blow off, but for the first 20 minutes, I choked on it, trying to smell it, yeah alcohol does that to me. Like the 2015 vintage, the nose on this wine is very fruity, with ripe blackberry, a mound of ripe blueberry, showing slightly less ripe than the 2015’s fruit, with clear notes of dryer sheets, intense lavender, and violet, followed by a clear and dense sense of fruit, I mean it smells like a redolent pile of dense fruit room, incredible but terrifying at the same time, with scary notes of very fruit-forward aromas, followed by mineral, slate, dirt, and yes mushrooms under that intense canopy of dark and brooding fruit. Yes, this wine is full-bodied and terrifying because of its incredible fruitiness, but the concentration and extraction on this wine are also incredible but different than 2015, there are intense acidity and minerality with this wine, no this is not 2005 Leoville that also meets much of those notes, where this differs is that the Leo had far more control. This wine is scary and maybe it will come around in a few years, but for now, it is beyond my interest, with layers of dark plum blackberry, clear fig notes, incredibly ripe cassis, blackberry, with super and almost too much extraction and rich earth, with a palate that is backed by searing tannin, and sweet spices, and yeah a density that is beyond my interest with yet another non-classical French characteristic of oak monster, with heady spices, black pepper. The finish is long and spicy, with loads of oak, green and ripe fruit, spices, and earth, with vanilla, smoking tobacco, and charcoal. Interesting wine and one that may come together in years, but for now, let it lie and pray! Drink from 2024 until 2030.

2018 Chateau Clarke, Baron Edmund de Rothschild, Listrac- Medoc – Score: 91+ (QPR: EVEN)
This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. As we said with the Fontenil, Merlot is riper in Bordeaux and this riper than the epic 2016 vintage, I am not sure if I like this one as much – YET! I do LOVE the bottle, especially the bottling date on the bottom of the bottle, 6/02/2020 (or is it Feb 6, 2020, why can we not have a universal slashing for dates!), and the etching of “Edmund de Rothschild Heritage”, very cool! Also the etched coat of arms and the embossed gold label, crazy hard to do.
This wine has hope but it does start ripe, far more controlled than the Fontenil, but it is ripe, The nose starts with a shot of hot and smoky milk chocolate, with vanilla, oak, ripe blueberry, black and red fruit, earth, and yeah more oak and chocolate. The mouth on this full-bodied wine calms down over time, to show an elegant but yet ripe wine with loads of chocolate, rich mineral, saline, graphite, and tannin, with black tea, blackberry, dark plum, raspberry in the background, followed by layers of concentration and medium-extraction, with loads of mouth draping tannin, mineral, loam, dirt, and lovely spices. The finish is where the wine shines, for now, showing the real elegance, where the tannins drape, the fruit turns more supple, the mouth is velvety, with chocolate, tobacco, and lovely foliage, green notes, herbs, mint, oregano, and lovely rich tannins that linger long with almond paste, and bell pepper. Nice! This wine is riper and readier to drink than the 2016 vintage and as such the window is different, though the 2016 vintage was also a bit more accessible than I expected. Drink from 2023 until 2030.

2019 Chateau Les Riganes (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
YES!!! The curse is broken! The odd year 2019 vintage is good! Finally! The nose on this wine is fun dirt, earth, bramble, green notes, followed by fun red and black fruit, all coming together into an intoxicating aroma. This is not a top-flight wine, but it is, once again, a very good QPR wine and a sure WINNER.
The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is not layered, but it has enough complexity and elegance to make this work, with a good attack of dark red fruit, with dark currant, dark cherry, hints of blackberry, followed by loads of dirt, mineral, graphite, and a very nice mouth-draping tannin structure, with really fun dirt, loam, and loads of foliage. The finish is long, green, and red, with lovely graphite, draping tannin, green olives, and green notes lingering long with tobacco, oregano, and Tarragon. Bravo! Drink until 2024.

Sweet White Wines

2018 Chateau Piada, Sauternes – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
The 2018 vintage is not well known for Sauternes, but this smells nice, with lovely aromas of sweet funk, botrytis, rich flint/smoke, sweet apple, apricot, candied peach, and melon, with guava, and a rich bowl of nuts. Piada continues its rich tradition of mineral-soaked Sauternes with a lovely vintage, this hot 2018 vintage still allowed Piada to create a mineral and acidic mouthfeel, Bravo!
The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich, layered, and unctuous, with a lovely end-to-end Palate showing rich saline, nuts, citrus, sweet melon, more funk, guava, and a beautiful nut covered white chocolate candy bar, with sweet notes, hints of pineapple, and garrigue, lovely! The finish is long, sweet, green (yes!), and palate filling and coating, with rich tannin, sweet fruit, melon, tart citrus, and graphite, that comes together nicely. Bravo! Drink from 2022 until 2035.

2017 Petit Guiraud, Sauternes – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
There have been many Sauternes being released in the past few years, but this is the first kosher Guiraud since 2001, though it is the Petit Guiraud, which is the Chateau’s 2nd wine. The Grand Vin of Chateau Guiraud has JUST been released and the notes are here as well. This is the 4th time since the release that I have had this wine and it does not disappoint! The only concern I have with this wine is its diam cork! I love Diam corks, but this wine is built to last and I pray that cork will not let us down!
The nose on this wine is sweet and super elegant, with lots of orange curds, orange blossom, melon, loads of honeysuckle, honeyed fruits, peach, mango, with the rich botrytis funk now coming out, even more, followed by floral notes, and lovely minerality. The mouth on this full-bodied and sweet wine, is ripe, sweet, and honeyed, with loads of sweet fruit, with a plush and easy mouthfeel, with a strong ribbon of orange pith bitterness, which I like, and it is a very prominent note, I find on other wines I like, along with loads of sweet tropical notes, grapefruit, orange marmalade, and hints of pineapple, brown sugar, sweet honey, all well-balanced with a tart fruit backbone. The finish is long, tart, sweet, well balanced, with a nice weight and fruit focus, with ribbons of bitter notes, graphite, and slate, all wrapped in more sweet fruit, ginger, more pith, and lovely funk. Nice! Drink from 2022 until 2035. Bravo!

2017 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes, 1st Grand Cru Classe 1855 – Score: 94 (QPR: EVEN)
WOW, we have waited 16 years from the last released kosher Chateau Guiraud, a wine I scored very highly. This one is a slight step behind that one, but who cares, this is a lovely wine. The Grand Vin also has a diam cork, but this one is a good 2 inches in length, this will be fun to follow!
Now, let us get to the slightly controversial issue, and then let us get to the wine note, the price! It currently goes for 130 or so dollars and the EPIC, and to be fair, better Sauternes from Chateau Tour Blanche 2014 is the same price, give or take a few dollars. Look, Sauternes does not sell quickly, not with Jews or non-kosher, which is SUPER strange, given how much the kosher market LOVES dates and figs in their wines! Look, this wine is epic and it will sell and it deserves to be bought, I will be buying many, but it is going head-to-head on the open market with a superior wine, not sold by Royal. Fun times in 2020! We will not even START to talk about pricing in France and how it will not show as well given the pricing for the 2014 Tour Blanche and the 2014 Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Magrez Sauternes. The 2014 vintage was incredible, throw in the 2014 Chateau De Rayne Vigneau Sauternes, and it is going to be madness in France and Europe! This may well be the best example of Sauternes competition in the kosher wine world ever! Now on to the notes!
Ok, so where maybe the Petit Guiraud had an issue with the bitter notes, which do not bother me at all, the Grand Vin has no such “issues”, it is a classic Sauternes and where the Tour Blanche takes the crown, is the incredible acidity and tartness that pops like nothing else on the kosher Sauternes market. There are others that like the sweeter, less tart, Sauternes, all I can say is – they are wrong! so, on to the notes already!
This wine is ready as is, the nose on this incredible Sauternes is popping with sweetness, aromas of sweet orange marmalade, followed by still subtle botrytis funk, with fresh melon, dried apricot, honeysuckle, loads of rich honey and beeswax, and lovely jasmine/white floral notes. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine has a more concentrated structure than the Petit does with an almost oily structure, showing a hint of the orange pith bitterness that portrays as a much larger part in the Petit, ripe pineapple, sweet honeydew melon, followed by candied orange and its pith, sweet and extremely juicy nectarines, with a body wrapped in honey, backed by mineral, a good enough acidity, nothing like the 2014 Tour Blanche, but clearly, some people will be happy. The finish is super-long, incredible, layered, and rich with a sweetness that is riper than the 2014 Tour Blanche, closer to the 2014 Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Magrez Sauternes, with loads of candied ginger, more honey, lemon fruit, slate, and sweet vanilla. This is a wine that could be drunk now, but why? Look the mad funk has not even begun to start and the bitterness will give way to even more fruit. Let this one lay! Drink from 2025 until 2042.

Posted on November 23, 2020, in Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi David,

    When will you have a follow up with the rest of Royals 2018/19 wines?

    • Hello,

      You can find the complete list here – on my new post:


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