Finishing my tasting of Royal Wine’s 2018 French wines in California

I know some of you are hoping for posts from my trip to France. However, I need to clean-up some missing posts, I have a lot of wine that needed to be posted and now I will do those quickly. After that I will start posting the wines I tasted in France.

So, back in November 2020, I did a tasting at my home to taste the 2018 wines from Royal, at least the ones that were here in the USA at that time. I will skip much of the text that I wrote then, but I will repost all the 2018 notes, to make it complete. Remember, all my notes have tasting dates on them.

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’.

Final comments, disclaimer, and warnings

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)!

Again, I am just posting the 2018 reds and a couple of other wines that have changed in a good and bad way. 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:

2018 Les Marronniers Chablis (M) – Score: 88 (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 even then it had turned, 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.
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 was lovely in the past, at this point, it has moved even further. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is not as acidic as in the past and it is time to drink, sweet Meyer lemon, quince, pie crust, with Anjou pear, and nice peach. The finish is a bit short, with baked pear and apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, some mineral, and now the fruit is showing sweeter. Drink now. (tasted March 2021)

2018 Les Marronniers Chablis, Premier Cru, Cote de Jouan – Score: 88 (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 even then it had turned, 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.
The nose on this wine still shows floral notes, starting with rosehip and yellow flowers, followed by some minerals, slate, blossom water, apple, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is where things have gone wrong, with a bit of weight at this time, yellow apple, some citrus, Asian Pear, nice peach/apricot, Orange pith, hints of nectarines and orange. Sadly, as I state above the acidity slows early and leaves in a few hours, so while I loved the wine at release, it is not for long holding. Drink now. (tasted March 2021)

Red Wines ordered by Vintage and QPR

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! (tasted Nov 2020)

2018 Chateau Royaumont, Grand Vin Bordeaux – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot & 30% Cabernet Franc. The nose on this wine is balanced, though a bit ripe, with bright fruit, ripe plum, dark cherry, anise, menthol, tobacco, with green notes from the Cabernet Franc, foliage, smoke, and slightly burnt oak. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is well-balanced, with loads of fruit to start, layered, concentrated, plush, with screaming acid, black raspberry, plum, smoke, oak, rich fruit, nice saline, good dirt, earth, black pepper, with ripe fruit, and loads of mouth draping tannin. The finish is long, ripe, with loads of sweet chewing tobacco, dark chocolate almost milky, with more earth, graphite, and smoke galore. Nice! Drink from 2028 until 2034. (tasted May 2021)

2018 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, Listrac-Medoc – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 44% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The nose on this wine is ripe, scary ripe, but under a blanket of dirt, earth, smoke, more ripe fruit, mushroom, forest floor, and earth, wow! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, rich, layered, elegant, but ripe, but the ripeness is balanced well by the acidity, with incredible dirt, along with floral notes, blackberry, currant, plum, and rich salinity, with dark chocolate, smoke, and rich loam, acid galore, and smoke. The finish is long, green, black, and mineral-driven, with loads of scrapping graphite, dirt, and foliage, wow! Bravo!! Drink from 2026 until 2033. (tasted January 2021)

2018 Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux – Score: 95 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a classically built elegant lady of the night, but not for the first 24 hours upon opening. To start it is an oak and dill bomb, but with time, the wine shows its true inner beauty. This wine is absurdly young and I have no HONEST idea if I will even be alive to fully enjoy this wine when it reaches its peak and beyond. This is one of those wines that people ask me all the time about – is there a wine for my newborn’s wedding? YES! THIS WINE!
I am not an ABV snob, I had loads of 2018 13% wines, and they all stunk, this is about terroir and control, but sure, it is a baby, it is NOT a fruity wine, but it has the power and elegance to go toe for toe with the other big kosher Margaux wines and beyond. This wine smells and tastes just like A Benyo wine in so many ways!
The nose on this wine is ripe, yet perfectly controlled, with crazy sweet dill, oak, red and darker fruit, with garrigue, roasted green herbs, lovely floral notes of rosehip, smoke, and sage. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is really elegant on the mouth, with ripe cherry, plum, hints of cassis, rich graphite, smoke, tar, all wrapped in a mouth-draping tannin and fruit structure, with ripe and juicy strawberry, sweet cranberry, sweet green herbs, roasted mushrooms, hints of truffle, with menthol, foliage, and loam. The finish is long, ripe, red, green, and smoky, with tar, earth, mushroom, juicy red fruit, cigar smoke, tobacco, and leather lingering long. WOW! This wine is a baby it needs loads of time. With time the oak recedes, the smoke comes out, even more, the red and black fruit emerges, but my main “issue” with the wine was the elegance was too elegant and that has stayed, meaning that wine is less aggressive and more laid back, not something I was expecting from a Margaux in 2018. It is a lovely wine, just thought 2018 was the vintage for heat and more fruit and this wine is all about elegance and less about power. Awesome! Drink from 2030 until 2040. (tasted April 2021)

2018 Chateau Giscours, Grand Cru Classe en 1855 – Score: 94.5 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine starts off riper than I had been led to believe as many had touted this wine greatly. Look, 2018 is a strikeout or homerun kind of season for most of Bordeaux, many have played it well but some have fallen hard. To start the nose on this wine is ripe, no hiding that, with some control, showing notes of brooding black, blue, and red fruit, with loads of smoke, dried flowers, earth, loam, and hints of forest floor. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, really rich, ripe, layered, deeply extracted, concentrated, with layers of blackberry, boysenberry, dark plum, good acidity to calm this all down a bit, lovely mineral, graphite, saline, black olives, umami, mouth-draping tannin, and elegance that gives way to scary ripeness, it goes back and forth that way. The finish is long, green, with foliage, earth, smoke, dried smoking tobacco, chocolate covered coffee beans, lovely graphite, soy sauce, and rich saline. Wow! This is lovely and may well have brought the best parts of 2018 together, control and fruit. Time will tell. Drink from 2031 until 2040. (tasted June 2021)

2018 Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 94 (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is incredible, first the 2018 vintage is hard, it is ripe, and certain regions faired better than others, for Pauillac, it was a winner, the nose and wine are incredible, but this needs time, this wine will last a very long time! The nose starts very hot, like much of 2018, with time, it brings the best of 2018 to bear, but in an incredible controlled manner. The nose is ripe, controlled, rich, with incredible iron, graphite, charcoal, mineral, followed by rich dense black fruit, lovely bright red fruit that balances it all very well. The mouth on this full-bodied wine could use more acid, it is my only concern, and it will allow for earlier drinking, but overall, the mouth is concentrated, ripe, rich, extracted, and layered with ripe blackberry, dark tart cherry, ripe raspberry, smoke, with draping and drying tannin, with a plushness that evokes elegance but also aggression, the tension is palpable, with dark fruit wrapping it all together. The finish is long, ripe, tart, balanced, and plush, with green notes, mushroom, foliage, and dark chocolate, with sweet tobacco lingering long! This is a wine that is in constant tension with the will to go dark and ripe but also controlled and opulent, BRAVO!!! Drink from 2027 until 2038. (tasted March 2021)

2018 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 94 (QPR: GOOD)
This 2018 Bordeaux is also clearly ripe, but it has more control, it shows more finesse, but the oak is strong to start. The nose on this wine is ripe, but more controlled, with lovely notes of violet, white flowers, with rich black and blue fruit, followed by gravel, dirt, menthol, roasted green notes, sweet oak, baking spices, smoke, and lovely anise. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is incredible, where the nose scares me slightly, the mouth is incredibly elegant, sexy, but controlled, not slutty like a Margaux, with rich layers, concentration, plushness, without being over the top, showing ripe blackberry, dark cherry, blueberry, an incredible plushness, with sweet notes of tart red plum, a rich under growth, garrigue, foliage, mushroom, and rich loam. The finish is long, green, dark, brooding, and controlled, with sweet tobacco, dark chocolate, and lovely baking spices – WOW!! BRAVO!! This may be the best 2018, though Cantenac-Brown will give it a run for its money! Drink from 2027 until 2041. (tasted March 2021)

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 other wines from the 2018 Bordeaux. with slight floral notes, but this is about deep and dark fruit.
The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, there is no hiding from this, really ripe, with rich extraction and some heat, and while I love the overall fruit-focus and structure this does scare me. 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, smoky, 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, schist, graphite, and saline. Bravo! This wine is even less accessible than other 2018 Bordeaux, and I think this needs a ton of time to come around. Drink from 2028 until 2036. Bravo! (tasted Nov 2020)

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 other 2018 Bordeaux, which surprised 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 GOOD. Drink from 2025 until 2032. (tasted Nov 2020)

2018 Chateau Tertre Grand Cru Classe en 1855 – Score: 92 (QPR: EVEN)
The wine overall is nice, but it is a bit too uniform and unidimensional. The nose on this wine has nice dark fruit, with loads of green notes, smoking tobacco, cigar smoke, tar, foliage, black and red fruit, and mineral. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, plush, layered, and concentrated with blackberry, raspberry, green notes, dark cherry, rich draping tannin, more smoke, nice acidity, loads of sweet spices, cinnamon, cloves, menthol, and nice roasted herbs. The finish is long, green, smoky, with earth, graphite, smoking tobacco, crazy searing tannin, dark to almost milk chocolate, and nice saline. Nice. This wine lacks the finesse I expect from Chateay Tertre, I hope it will appear in years. I did not have to wait years, all I waited was a week, yes a week later the wine turned, and the complexity and depth was there, lovely! Drink from 2030 until 2038. (tasted June 2021)

2018 Chateau Meyney Grand Vin – Score: 92 (QPR: EVEN)
This is another 2018 French Bordeaux, this may turn the corner, but for now, this wine is really ripe. The nose on this nose is ripe with notes of sweet oak, loads of oak, followed by sweet dill, smoke, tar, earth, ripe and juicy black and red fruit, followed by menthol, anise, and rich green herbs. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, really plush, richly extracted, with layers of blackberry, raspberry, dark plum, too much oak to start, followed by crazy acidity, rich mouth drying and draping tannin, with roasted rosemary, oregano, and sage. The finish is long, green, herbal, smoky, oaky, and dense, plush, with rich milk chocolate, more oak, sweet spices, roasted herbs, dark brooding fruit, graphite, mineral, and smoke. Drink from 2026 until 2037. (tasted March 2021)

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. 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. (tasted Aug 2020)

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 juicy pile of dense fruit, 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.
The mouth on this full-bodied wine is terrifying because of its incredible fruitiness, but the concentration and extraction on this wine are also nice but different than 2015, there is an intensity of acidity and minerality with this wine. 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 also 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. (tasted Nov 2020)

2018 Chateau Lascombes, Margaux – Score: 92 (QPR: EVEN)
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. This wine is terrifying, another 2018 ripe wine, but this one is a tight rope across the twin towers, as they are sadly burning and falling to the ground, ripe, and downright scary. Only time will tell where this wine goes. The nose on this wine is really ripe, smoky, and earthy, with crazy fruit, dense black fruit, roasted meat, mint, sage, and cloves. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, layered, richly extracted, good acidity, layered, and deeply concentrated with dark plum compote, fig, smoked blackberry, crazy ripeness, with rich umami, depth, and downright scary ripeness, with earth, and a denseness that may be too much for me. The finish is ripe, the acidity is there but it cannot balance this much fruit, the fruit is so dense and ripe it gets as close to being ripe bomb while still being good, with heat, smoke, leather, bay leaf, and rich salinity. Nice but wow! Drink from 2028 until 2035. (tasted January 2021)

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. (tasted Nov 2020)

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! (tasted Nov 2020)

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. (tasted Nov 2020)

2018 Chateau de Rayne Vigneau, 1er Grand Cru Classe 1855– Score: 93 (QPR: EVEN)
This wine had a fair amount of hype and I have now tasted this wine three times, nothing has changed, to me the wine is nice, well made, but it is seriously lacking acid, and is not in the same company as the 2014 La Tour Blanche, Sauternes. The nose on this wine is absolutely intoxicating, it is best feature by far, showing beautiful sweet notes of orange marmalade, lovely funk, sweet guava, lovely orange blossom and honeysuckle, with honeydew melon, brown sugar, honeyed sweet peach, and hints of vanilla. Sadly, the mouth, for me, is where this wine fails, I had this one with three people, and one of them, is a well known person in the wine world, they all said it was not that interesting, to me, I get the joy but the acid is the real issue. The mouth on this deeply concentrated and richly full-bodied wine is intense, I get that, with layers of concentrated ginger, honeyed peach, ripe honeydew melon, with sweet brown sugar, candied citrus, with sugared Meyer lemon, and butterscotch, and green notes of mint and lovely walnuts and almonds. The finish is long, ripe, sweet, with orange and more guava. Nice! Drink from 2026 until 2045, probably longer. Again, my issue is the wine is nice, but if there was more acid it would be off the charts. (tasted April 2021)

Posted on July 1, 2021, in Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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