A lineup of the available 2018 kosher Pinot Noirs from around the world

In the past few months, there have been many releases of Pinot Noir from the 2018 vintage. For the most part, there are no real winners here, QPR and otherwise, except for two – the Herzog Pinot Noir, Reserve, and the Herzog Eagle’s Landing Pinot Noir (though the Eagle’s Landing is the only QPR WINNER).

The tasting included all the wines I could find though I left out two, the 2018 Barkan Pinot Noir and the 2018 Tura Pinot Noir. Both of them are Mevushal, and they do a HORRIBLE job on Mevushal, so I did not want to waste my money. My love for all things Pinot is well known, and I had such high hopes. I also seemed to have missed tasting the 2018 Vitkin Pinot Noir, as well.

It is funny how the media can change people’s perspectives, and in some cases twist them in a way that we would not expect.  Say Pinot Noir and most wine drinkers will think of the enigmatic anti-hero Miles Raymond, and his explanation on his love for Pinot Noir; “…It’s, uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know?…“.  Pinot is a complicated grape – but not to its detriment.  Listen to Miles throughout Sideways and you may come to think that Pinot is fleeting, flinty, thin, and complicated. In the end, as you watch that horrible movie, you quickly realize that Miles was simply projecting in a fire fueled rambling and using Pinot Noir as his conduit.

To the French, Pinot Noir is called Burgundy – following the tradition of French wineries to name their wines after the region where the grapes are grown. Americans have had success with Pinot – in California, Oregon, and Washington State. New Zealand, has taken the lead in bringing the grape into the 21st century. The French Burgundy has its terroir (earthy dirt flavors, sometimes barnyard flavors as well). The New Zealand and American Pinots show characteristics that are more akin to Syrah than Burgundy – fruit-forward, meaty wines with soft caressing tannins. The rest of the world is choosing sides. Though true terroir flavors are hard to replicate outside of Burgundy, many countries have been successful at bringing out the true fruit characteristics that the land is willing to share and are creating wonderful Pinot Noirs. Israel was starting to come into its own with Pinot Noir, now all I would buy from Israel, in regards to Pinot would be from Gvaot. Yes, Vitkin does a nice enough job, but Gvaot does a better one. Right now, the best bet is France and the USA, with a drop from Israel, and after that, we are on empty. Sadly, 2018 was not a great year for Four Gates and what I had was not great, it was never officially bottled, but we have 2019 coming soon!

Sadly, Pinot Noir to me is one of those wines that is so badly mangled in the kosher wine world, that it is no shock that most kosher oenophiles, turn face when u say Pinot Noir. Not on account of the Pinot Noir grapes themselves, but rather on account of the pathetic state of kosher Pinot Noir wine on the market.

Say, Pinot Noir to me, and sadly I can only think of:

Pinot Noir is one of my favorite wines, NO NOT because of sideways! I loved the wine long before that horrific cult movie hit the theaters. I love PN for what it stands for – complexity through things other than fruit! A well made Pinot Noir, in my humble opinion, needs to be of medium body, medium fruit structure, accompanied by mounds of dirt, mushroom, barnyard, and earthy goodness. The ultimate aspect of a great PN is the secondary flavors, not the fruit, not cherry cola, and for the LOVE OF GOD not OAK! It is all about the secondary and old age notes that come with time and love.

Sadly, look at that list. Four Gates is tough to get in quantity. The Gvaot Pinot is available, but they are more Cab and rich than a pure ethereal wine, though very impressive. The Eagle’s Landing 2013 vintage is still available at the winery, and the 2016/2018 vintages rocked! The real winners are the French options, but they are NOT cheap.

So, where are we? Some like the Galil Pinot and other such structured wines, but to me, they are just bad Cabernet in a Pinot’s clothing. This is a shortlist. Heck, there are HUNDREDS of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, even many Cabernet Franc options. But say Pinot and numbers dwindle in the blink of an eye. Further, many of the options here are vintage based. For the true Pinot lover, Four Gates and France are your sure bets. Sadly, only the last one is pumping out wines consistently.

PSA: What is wrong with you all?? The Eagle’s Landing Pinot Noir has consistently been a high-rated wine and one that lasts for a very long time, improving along the way with great panache. Yet, you can still buy the 2013 and 2016 vintages of this wonderful wine!! I bought a bunch of 2013 from Herzog. I get NOTHING to tell you this other than pleasure. BUY the wine and enjoy one bottle now and save the others for a rainy day in 2026. Buy this now!!

Sadly, there were no surprises here, the 2018 Gvaot was nice, the Eagle’s Landing was great, and the Herzog Reserve Pinot (a return after many years of non-production) was also very nice. That is about it. The 2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Burgundies were tasted previously (the notes added here for completeness).

The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 Herzog Eagle’s Landing Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
Let me start by saying buy this wine, buy lots of this wine, I mean a LOT! OK, now this wine is a bigger and richer version of the 2013 Eagle’s Landing Pinot Noir, in other words, this wine is a beast, a winner, and yes – get this wine! My only comment is that this wine is not a classically styled Pinot Noir. This wine is full-bodied and not so much about cherry and raspberry and more about blackberry and spice, I would not have initially guessed this was a Pinot Noir, still this a wonderful wine. My only real complaint is the strangely small cork used as its closure, when the Cabernet Franc has a much longer cork, just not sure why. Anyway, I do not care about corks, as long as they last long enough to meet the drinking window.
The nose on this wine is pure heaven, coffee and chocolate, and fruit madness, with dirt, mushroom, loam, and spice, all wrapped in dark and brooding fruit, showing control, spice, earth, and sheer umami notes, wow!! The mouth on this full-bodied wine is wow! the mouth starts very softly, almost like a leopard crouching before it pounces upon its prey, this wine is beautifully structured to last, and so well made it is almost difficult to get all the thoughts out of my head, layers of fruit, acid, tannin, salinity (that is incredible), black olives, with epic fruit structure and concentration, with clear and bold and jammy blackberry, raspberry, dark cherry, with intense saline, forest floor, searing acidity, and layers of dark jammy brooding but well-controlled fruit. With time the cherry and raspberry fall behind the intense black and intense brooding fruit. The finish is equally impressive with layers of chocolate, coffee, leather, spices, nutmeg, cloves, rich earth, lovely smoking tobacco leaves, sweet and jammy fruit, all wrapped in mineral, spice, and earth. Bravo!!! Drink from 2024 until 2033 or longer.

2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Pommard, Reserve Personnelle – Score: 92 (QPR: GOOD)
Lovely nose of elegance, showing red and black fruit, with green notes, showing straw, with loam galore, and mineral, with licorice, and cranberry, and foliage galore. Crazy floral notes. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is pencil shavings, with incredible acid core, followed by layers of dark cherry, juicy strawberry, with layers of mushroom, artichoke, with layers of fine and elegant tannin that is mouth coating and drying, with dark fruit, ethereal with green notes, tart fruit, with bitter notes of mineral and graphite, followed by mushroom and sweet spices and toast. The finish is long and green, dark fruit, earth, mineral, with smoke, and forest floor galore. Bravo! Drink from 2021 until 2028. (Tasted in Nov 2019).

2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Gevrey-Chambertin, Reserve Personnelle – Score: 92 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine is crazy bright and dark with loads of fruit, smoke, toast, and earth galore, with mushroom, and forest floor, floral notes galore. This wine is incredibly young and closed with loads of black and blue fruit with tart and juicy raspberry, with layers of smoke, mushroom, sheer elegance and plush layers of dark red fruit, plum, tart, and juicy pomegranate, with saline galore, with blackberry, blueberry, and lovely fruit structure that is wrapped with sweet tannin, sweet Oak, and lovely earth and mushroom galore. Wow! The finish is green, dark, juicy, tart, with leather, spice, smoke, and tobacco galore with med spices and mushroom and forest floor. Wow. Drink from 2022 until 2030. (Tasted in Nov 2019).

2018 Herzog Pinot Noir, Reserve – Score: 91+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine starts off a bit different than the Capcanes with less heat but sadly, with time the 14.5% ABV wine does show its stripes with clear heat, followed by crazy garrigue, roasted herb, with loads of toast and smoke, followed by roasted mint, menthol galore, and hints of Chicka Cherry Cola. The mouth on this medium-bodied Pinot Noir is layered, reminds me of a Benyo Four Gates Pinot, with layers of rich dark cherry, nice complexity, with roasted herb, menthol, the heat does show her in the mouth, with nice acidity, good tannin structure, great fruit focus, overall a very good wine, with lovely earth and dirt. At this point, the finish is a bit short, the tannin and acidity cover it very well, but there is a missing component, with some nice coffee, but this is all about red fruit, loads of green notes, menthol, cola, and cherry. Those were the notes of this wine when I opened it and when I tasted it the next day. However, it improved with more time, meaning to me this wine is very young and not yet ready.
Here are the notes after a day, or with some 6 hours of decanting. The nose on this 14.5% ABV wine, after a day of being opened finally loses its very hot and alcoholic edge, with clear notes of crazy garrigue, roasted herb, with loads of toast and smoke, followed by roasted mint, menthol galore, nice raspberry, impressive black pepper, and now loads of Chicka Cherry Cola, and black notes of tar and fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied Pinot Noir is layered, reminds me of a Benyo Four Gates Pinot, with layers of rich dark cherry, nice complexity, with roasted herb, menthol, the heat is now gone, showing nice acidity, good tannin structure, great fruit focus, with pomegranate, black fruit, and cherry, overall a very good wine, with lovely earth and dirt. Now, thankfully, the finish fills out, with some nice coffee, but this is all about red fruit, lovely rose, and violet, with black tea, loads of green notes, menthol, cola, and cherry. Nice! Drink from 2023 until 2028. 

2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Bourgogne, Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, Reserve Personnelle – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
This is a classic green and red joy, with dark red fruit, smoke, loads of earth, redolent with mint, oregano, sour fruit, and rich loam. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is oaky, with lovely strawberry, dark raspberry, with incredible saline, green olives, with layers of integrated tannin, lifted by the incredible acid, cherry, and earth, with garrigue, smoke, tart and green fruit, with layers of fruit, earth, and tobacco, with leather. Nice. Drink from 2021 until 2027. (Tasted in Nov 2019).

2018 Gvaot Pinot Noir, Gofna, Reserve – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
I will be honest, as I am always, and even though I saw this wine had an ABV of 13%, I had the Segal Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, which was at 13.5% ABV, and yeah, I am done with being an ABV whore. What matters to me is balance and this Pinot Noir has it. I do not yet see the complexity I wish from a Pinot Noir, but it is still very good and one that I would buy again.
The nose on this wine is old-world in style, there is no date-juice, no ripe fruit, this is balanced Pinot Noir fruit, showing lovely notes of smoke, bacon, sweet oak/cedar, dark brewed espresso, red fruit, and loads of forest floor, and wet earth. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, I would like more acid, much punch, but it still shows a great fruit-focus, with nice balance, smoke, toast, dark cherry, sweet oak, cranberry, hints of pomegranate, with lovely sweet spices, and with time, roasted herb, rosemary, cloves, more texture and herbs, and lovely mouth coating tannin and complexity. The complexity and texture get better with time. The finish is long, green, red, herbal, smoky, and dirty, really dirty, toasty, and herbal, with mushroom, hints of truffle, and more mouth-coating tannin, and sweet fruit. The sweet fruit does pop up its head a bit but it calms down just as quickly. Drink until 2026.

2018 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib Pinot Noir – Score: 89 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine, a 13,5% ABV wine, smells hot out the bottle, which is always interesting, but Capcanes is Capcanes, and sure, I would expect nothing less. The nose on this wine is nice, other than the heat, with good dirt, earth, Kirche cherry, ripe blackcurrant, and loads of spice and roasted herbs, rosemary, and sage. The mouth on this wine shows true varietally, with clear red and black fruit, cherry, smoke, nice acidity, with loads of roasted herb, hints of forest floor, garrigue, foliage, with not much complexity, at this point, with a unidimensional attack of acid, foliage, and red fruit, with blackcurrant, and with nice earth, and spice, The finish is long, overall a well-made wine, but nothing yet to grab my attention, the finish shows coiffed, and more roasted herbs on the long finish. Drink by 2024.

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.

2018 Yaacov Oryah Duke Pontiff – Score: 88 (QPR: BAD – the USA)
More of the whimsical names, this wine is a blend of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Syrah, and 22% Grenache. This too is the 2nd vintage of this wine, and this too is a Chutzpah of a wine blend. Officially, the Duke in this relationship is less in proportion than the Pontiff, but I am getting ahead of myself. Duke is for the Duchy of Burgundy (represented by Pinot Noir here), while Pontiff is for the Chateauneuf de Pape, the classic blend of the Rhone Valley.
My feeling about these strange blends continues, it does not work, unless the Rhone fruit is out of control, like in 2017. Here, in the 2018 vintage, the fruit is far more controlled, but now the Pinot Noir just feels out of place and does not feel like it works.
The nose on this wine feels like a watered-down Syrah and that is sad to me, with notes of green from the Pinot Noir, that commands too much attention, followed by hints of blue and black fruit, with red cherry notes, and herbs galore. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has the same issues as the S.O.B., it lacks interest, again, there are no flaws, the only flaw is that it is not pulling me. The mouth on this wine shows fruits of cherry, raspberry, plum, blueberry, and herb, with oak, smoke, and roasted herb, and not much else. The finish is a bit short, or the middle is, not clear, with coffee, herb, and more toast. With even more time, the wine did open up a bit but that only made the fruit too sweet and ripe for me, sadly.  Drink by 2023.

2018 Herzog Pinot Noir, Lineage, Clarksburg (M) – Score: 88 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose on this wine has become a massive oak attack, with loads of toast, spice, and roasted meat, but there is some fruit behind that attack, I cannot smell it. The mouth on this wine is quite nice for a Pinot Noir at this price and it is well made, with loads of oak, but also nice Kirche Cherry, raspberry, plum, and loads of roasted herb, and blue notes as well. The finish is long, green, and tannic, with nice control, with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and good herbs, mint, and oregano. Drink now!

2018 Pacifica Pinot Noir, Evan’s Collection, Columbia Gorge – Score: 88 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose on this wine is a more balanced wine than the Goose Bay, with nice oak, but not over the top, with smoke, and toast, and sweet red fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice, showing good acidity, salinity, and mineral, with good structure, with nice dark cherry, cola, and raspberry fruit, with a good fruit structure, and a nice mouth coating tannin approach. The finish is long, sweet, balanced with good acidity, showing nice dark chocolate covered coffee beans, some earth, more mineral, graphite, and saline. Nice! Drink until 2022.

2018 Hagafen Pinot Noir, Coombsville, Napa Valley (M) – Score: 88 (QPR: BAD)
The nose on this 14.2% ABV wine shows clean and correct, with nice notes of chocolate, heather, herbs, with clear oak influence, followed by red and darker fruit, earth, and spices. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is quite well-balanced and correct, showing a clear Pinot Noir profile, with dark Kirche Cherry, rich salinity, nice herbs, raspberry, smoke, and roasted notes of animal and oak, with a nice tannin and mouth draping approach, with good acidity and green notes. The finish is long, green, very approachable, but with a body that can last a bit, with more smoke, oak, toast, but well-controlled red fruit, and hints of the ripe fruit and oak starting to make me worried, time will tell. Drink until 2023.

2018 Goose Bay Pinot Noir, Small Batch (M) – Score: 87 (QPR: BAD)
The color on this wine looks a bit off. The nose on this wine is a pure oak bomb, with incredible toast levels, showing burnt rubber, charcoal, and smoke, and some red fruit in there somewhere. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is not as problematic as the nose, but it is very uniform and uni-dimensional, with more burnt notes, nice enough acid and tannin, but the oak is overpowering and the cherry and raspberry are lost in the war. The finish is super long and crazy tannic, with good acidity, and the oak is too much for me right now.

2018 Segal Pinot Noir, Whole Cluster, Judean Hills – Score: 83 (QPR: NA)
I had hopes, HIGH hopes, finally, a nice wine from Israel, clocking in at 13% ABV. It just goes to prove that, YES, you can indeed make date juice with a 13% ABV. Congrats!
The nose on this wine is ripe, which again, is incredible, given the ABV. The notes of cooked plum, candied cherry, a lot like a candied Cali Pinot, but even riper. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is ripe, has little in regards to elegance, but the blackcurrant, plum, and cherry are ripe, and candied and make the mouthfeel out of kilter, with a bit of earth, good tannin structure, and not much else. The finish is long, sweet, ripe, with coffee, tobacco, and loads of candied cherry lifesaver lingering long, with candied blackcurrant. Drink by 2023.

2018 Timbre Pinot Noir, The Rhythm – Score: 82 (QPR: POOR)
The nose on this wine smells Cali in style, with loads of sweet fruit, but balanced with loads of earth and green notes, but ripe, with black and blue fruit. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is fruit-forward, with what I can only imagine is a bit of RS, with loads of blueberry, blackberry, and crazy candied and liquor dark Kirche cherry. The finish is long, ripe, red, and spicy. Drink now.

——————— Thrown in for effect ————————–

2019 Gilgal Pinot Noir – Score: 86 (QPR: EVEN)
Overall my impression is while it is nice enough and has some good spice, the oak is too much and it is too ripe for my interests on the palate. It is true varietally, but otherwise, not for me. A good enough wine for the price. Drink now.

2019 Grume D’Or Pinot Noir – Score: 86 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this Pinot Noir smells nice, this is what I like, green notes, nice red fruit, herbs galore, mint, Oregano, with nice dirt and loam. The mouth on this Pinot Noir is very simple but it is a nice enough wine, classic cherry, earth, dirt, and a good enough body – and that is about it. Drink until 2022.

Posted on December 25, 2020, in Israeli Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Any thoughts about the Landsman from Covenant?

  2. Sadly, they have not been what I have liked for some time now, the last one I really liked was 2013.

  3. What exact price and price category did you use for the 2018 Eagles Landing and 2018 Herzog Reserve?

    • Hello,

      The 2018 Herzog Pinot Noir, Reserve, which received a 91 is available for 40 dollars and is a top-tier red wine, so that gets it a QPR as GOOD. The Eagle’s landing is also a Top-Tier red and it is available for 44 or so dollars and it scored a higher number (92 or higher), so it gets a WINNER score.

      • This is part of a much larger conversation I would like to have with you about the QPR rating (because I am very intrigued by it, believe it is very important, I’m a fan of yours, and I appreciate and support what you do) but I’m curious about the specifics as it relates to these wines because they are basically an apples to apples comparison.

        I hope I correctly understand your methodology and I make sense, but apologize beforehand if I’m incorrect.

        Based on your response, my understanding is that both these wines are in a wine category where the median score is 92 (only cause you said it outright) and the median price is above $44.

        Now I have no idea how you handle in your QPR system the fact that the original score for the Herzog Reserve (HR) was 91+ (is it 91, 91-92, or that it’s 91 now but has likely potential to be greater than 91 in the future). Regardless, if we just use 91 (since you did in your response), how would a difference in price impact the QPR rating of the HR? My understanding of the methodology is that it won’t.

        You used a price of $40. I live in the NYC/Long Island market and have seen a large range of pricing for this wine. But the best price I’ve seen (which is not a sale price) is $30. If I read your reply correctly, the HR is not a winner only because it scored less than 92 and not because of price.

        So it’s hard to understand why price doesn’t help out HR’s QPR rating even if you used $30 (47% cheaper that Eagles Landing vs 9% with your pricing)? What about if HR was $22, making Eagles Landing double the price. Are those 2 points (93 vs 91) worth paying double. (I do think it’s fair to make an argument based on the fact that they have two different tasting profiles).

        I’ll reiterate my caveat again here, that I have my question because they are as close to an apple to apple comparison that can be made (at least that I can think of off the top of my head) because as I understand the only difference in inputs was either the time spent in barrels or a slightly different barrel profile (charring).

        Please don’t post this to the thread if the above is somehow incorrect or if the answer may just confuse people without a larger discussion.

        Thank you

  4. The ’18 and ’19 Vitkins and the ’18 Gamla would really round this out.

  5. Ira Kahn – this is not complex. As I have stated over and over in the blog – QPR WINNER is a designation given only to wines that are below the median price and at or above the median score. So, 91+ (AKA 91.5) is not at the 92 median scores. The price, as I HAVE literally SCREAMED is not the definition of QPR categorization. Price only comes into the equation AFTER the wine’s score. So, if the wine score a 91 and the median is 92, it can never be a WINNER no matter how cheap it is. Be well!

  6. The Vitkin, Tzuba, Tishbi, Tura, Gamla(Israel), Galil Mountain, are usually a step above the pitiful Barkan (who don’t even sell their cheap Pinot in Israel anymore), and are average, which for a Pinot is just about drinkable.

    I believe you must pay better attention to the Yarden offerings, consistently good, sometimes great (2004).
    Ella Valley had a great 2005 vintage, I’ve not seen them since.
    Gush Ezion Winery has produced a Pinot (for awhile available only via the winery) which was not great but potential for the future.
    As to Gvaot I have had 1 vintage and was not blown away, will try the 2018.
    I disagree with your 2018 Segal rating as I see decent complexity and hope for the future.
    MIdbar has produced a 2019 (first that I noticed) that I must try.

    I think that wineries that just want to add another varietal for an additional label fail miserably.
    However those in Israel, or perhaps anywhere, those who choose location with appropriate trepidation and while they are not specialists, at least harbor some respect for the grape, you can taste the distinction and care …AND then must wait for a great vintage.
    I would include Yarden, Gvaot, Segal, Gush Ezion in that category currently.
    Thanks for all your insights!

    • Hello Y.B.

      I commented about a 2010 vintage because that was the last good cheap Burg, but the post was about 2018 Pinot Noir wines. I have never had a good Yarden ANYTHING (other than sparkling and sweet), after 2009. Gush made a fun Pinot noir, look at my previous posts – but since 2013 they have been painful or non-existent. 2019 was not the vintage of this post.
      The Segal is date juice, but again, my perception is different from others, no problem – enjoy it if you can.

      Overall, Pinot is not the grape for Israel – which was really the point of the post and that Gvaot is the rare exception. I REMEMBER WELL with great sadness of the GOOD OLD DAYS of Ella Valley Pinots – again this post was about 2018!! Be well.

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