IDS tasting of current releases in Paris – May 2022
As stated I was in Paris in May, and the first tasting I had on the trip was at the offices of Les Vin IDS. I know I said I was done with asides but this one is about wine. Remember that my QPR standard means Quality to Price Ratio! Well, the price fluctuates with currency. Most of us do not think about it but it does! We are all feeling it now with inflation but a very nice aside, at least if you are using US Dollars in Europe is that the US Dollar has almost reached parity with the Euro, and that made for a wonderful trip!
All my purchases were discounted by the Euro and that made the QPR scores a bit better but overall I stayed with either the Euro or the US dollar prices (AKA US prices). More on that below.
So, with that aside, let us get to the IDS tasting.
The tasting was a two-part wine event. The first part featured IDS wines while the second part featured wines that Ben Sitruk of Wine Symphony. This included wines from Ari Cohen’s new wine business Bakus, wines from Domaine Roses Camille, and some wines from Cantina Giuliano and the Toscana from Terra di Seta. This post will focus on the Le Vins IDS and the next post will follow up with the other wines.
Le Vin IDS Wines
As I stated in my Paris trip preamble post, the timing for the trip was not great. This year because of so many supply chain issues June or late June would have been better, but there was no way I was going to go to France at that time for so many reasons.
Even last year, in November 2021, the timing was nice but I missed tasting many of the IDS wines that had to wait until this trip, by maybe 1 month at most. Still, I enjoyed the tasting for many reasons as will become apparent quickly.
It turned out that Alexandre Kassel was going to be in Paris at the same time I was there so we had some shared tastings. This was one of them and it was great to hang with him. It had been far too long since I had hung out with Alexandre, mostly because of COVID and my not being in Israel for such a long time.
As soon as we entered the office we were graced with blind tasting bags on the bottles. I thought this is great! I love tasting wine blind, Alexander and I used to do that all the time when we tasted wines in Israel. So, it felt so correct to be doing it again. In the end, as you will see, there were two wines on the list that we were not expecting as we had them a few times so it helped to add some amount of doubt to what we “knew” when entering the room.
As is customary, I ask Ben to open the windows to air out the room, as soon as I enter, as the smell of tobacco ash is always insufferable. I understand France is one of the few advanced nations in the world where smoking is still a thing. I have never tolerated it, the smell makes me retch, so Ben is always so kind to air out the room before we begin tasting his wonderful wines.
Once that was done I took in the room and I realized the tasting was going to be blind, as the bottles were in bags and this brought a broad smile to my face. I love blind tastings. The two roses and two white wines were not tasted blind, I guess because there was not enough variation, but the reds were all going to be blind.
White and Roses
The first 4 wines we tasted were the current whites and roses from Les Vin IDS. These wines were not tasted blind. One of them is a favorite of mine, the 2018 Clos des Lunes Lune D’Argent – a lovely white Bordeaux which started a bit slow for me in 2019 but it has blossomed recently and I love it!
That was followed by the latest vintage of the 2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Symphonie Blanc, Cru Classe. This is a wine made from Vermentino and I like it. Some find the oak a bit too much but it did not bother me as much. Next was the 2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Symphonie Rose, Cru Classe, a lovely Rose, but like last year, a slight step behind the bigger brother, the 2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Fantastique Rose, Cru Classe. The 2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Fantastique Rose, Cru Classe is the best rose I have tasted so far and it is lovely. Still, for the price, it is all a matter of QPR.
The next 5 wines were tasted blind and were tasted in the order they are found below. The entire list below is in the order the wines were tasted. As I will start to reveal slowly, I have changed how I take notes. Many have seen it but to keep it simple I use Google forms, which also has a spreadsheet behind it, which means my notes will be searchable, but more on that at a different time.
The point of me telling you all this is that I normally know the wines when I post them. This time, I named the wines based on the color of the bag. Later, at reveal time (thankfully no explosions), I updated the forms with the real names and the ABV and such. It also meant that the pictures were not great, my apologies, but they show what matters and in the end, that is all that matters.
Also, by the time the tasting was over it was very clear who had won the 2019 big red war, at least up until this point, more on that below. So, let us get to the tasting.
The first wine was the green bag and it was nice enough but nothing that blew me away. It did not show in a very special manner and I thought it was the Le Benjamin, but the 2019 Le Benjamin was not as good as this wine. I wrote the notes, but I never thought it was a Valendraud. It turned out this wine was the 2011 Virginie de Valendraud, which I did not remember ever tasting, but indeed I had it some five-plus years ago. The notes are not that far apart, I would drink this in the next few years.
The next wine was in the red bag and now things were looking up the wine was a clear step up, the fruitiness was calmer, and it was also clearly a younger wine, but beyond that, I had no idea what I was tasting. It turned out the wine was the 2019 L’Esprit de Chevalier. It is a blend 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. I do not remember anything else screaming out beyond what I wrote in the notes. It was a bit stunted in the nose and floral but otherwise, nice young wine with potential was my takeaway. This is yet another wine from the Pessac-Legonan region, we seem to be having a fair number of them in the kosher wine market. This is the 2nd wine from the famous Domaine de Chevalier.
The next wine was in the yellow/orange wine bottle and with one sniff things were looking up once again. Again, from the nose and taste, this was a step up but not a wine that rang any bell for me. It felt tart, bright, and elegant, but also dense and ripe, all at the same time. Quite a lovely experience, I hoped this was NOT the Smith Haut Lafitte while tasting this as it was a nice wine but not what I was expecting from the 2019 vintage of SHL. Sure enough, we were rewarded with the next wine to prove that it was not the Smith. Overall, the wine was lovely, and in France, this is very close to a WINNER (still a GREAT QPR score, but very close), while here in the USA, the pricing moves it too far out of the WINNER range. the wine is the 2019 Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Margaux.
The next wine was the blue wine bottle and this one blew me away. Look, I have tasted almost all of the 2019 red wines out there. The 2019 Four Gates are not yet released nor are the 2019 Domaine Roses Camille. Still, of what has been released, including the Pape Clement, this one is the winner. None of them is a QPR WINNER. Though, IMHO, as I stated in my wines of the year, the 2019 Chateau Lagrange is DAMN close to a QPR WINNER and the best deal out there by far! But again, I am diverging!
The second this thing touched my lips I went silent, yes that is a rarity, what you are missing here is that I went silent verbally (yeah there was wine in my mouth) but also internally, just blissful silence! Everything in me went calm, nothing was running around on the hamster wheel, it had stopped, and all thought had focused on the wine in my mouth, it felt like all of a sudden the Eye of Sauron was burning a hole in my mind, it was a rare moment.
As I have stated in my year in review – the top 2019 kosher wines remind me of a blend of 2015 and 2014 – a true joy, focused, tart, bright, ripe fruit, with tension, density, backed by minerality, terroir, and rich loam. This is a vintage that makes me smile. Well, this wine had just eclipsed all that I thought had been the 2019 vintage leaders, until this moment, and what a moment it was. It was not just I that went silent, verbally and internally, the room went silent. There was an OOH and WOW here and there, but otherwise, everyone was savoring what we were smelling and tasting and we were not in a rush to spit out what we were tasting. It was not hard to know that what we had was a special wine – blind or not, this was special! It was at that moment that I dreamed that this was NOT the Smith Haut Lafitte, because if this was anything other than the SHL I wanted a pallet of it!!
Of course, this bottle was the 2019 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Legonan, and I was not shocked by that!
Finally, we tasted the white bottle, and yeah, it was OK, but no, not in the same league as many of the wines we had that day. It did tickle a memory but it felt green and ripe at the same time while also feeling disjointed, it felt a bit like the first bottle, but in the end, the notes I wrote were very close to what I wrote last year. I bought another of these bottles just to be 100% sure, to let it rise for a few days, and yeah, nothing changed on my notes!
The final bottle turned out to be the 2018 Virginie de Valendraud, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. I had tasted it a year earlier, in NYC, and yeah, even then it was not my cup of tea.
Next, Ben asked us to line up the wines, before he revealed them, well, I think I swayed the crowd a bit. No one doubted that the 4th bottle was the best by far and that the 3rd was quite impressive as well. Some had issues about where the other three lined up. My scores have not changed nor has my preferred order.
My many thanks to Ben Uzan for setting up the meeting, sharing his wines with us, and taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us. The wine notes follow below in the order they were tasted – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2018 Clos des Lunes Lune D’Argent, Bordeaux – Score: 92+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.
The nose of this wine has evolved so wonderfully since the last time we had this wine. it is now perfectly balanced and showing intense bright fruit, with great funk, hay, flint, rock, gooseberry, citrus, lovely green notes, orange blossom, and yellow fruit.
The mouth of this medium-bodied wine comes at you in layers of fruit, with nicely integrated acid, the acidity is popping now, showing green notes, tart with asparagus, yellow plum, dry straw, mineral, lovely smoke, tart fruit, rock, and grapefruit and lemon/lime.
The finish is long, green, with orange notes, and mineral that lingers long forever. Drink by 2024. (tasted April 2021)
2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Symphonie Blanc, Cru Classe, Cotes de Provence – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
This wine is made from 100% Vermentino.
The nose of this wine is pure heaven, funk, orange blossom, citrus blossom, white flowers, tea, green apple, quince, dry marmalade, intense flint, mineral, really lovely! The mouth of this wine is pure heaven, truly tart, with intense acidity, with quince, tart lemon, orange, flint, white flowers, peach, apricot, and never-ending acidity. The finish is long, tart, green, with lemongrass, smoke, flint, and intense acidity, LOVELY! Drink by 2023. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Symphonie Rose, Cru Classe, Cotes de Provence – Score: 91 (QPR: GREAT)
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Vermentino. The nose of this wine is a bit quiet with classic Grenache notes of strawberry, raspberry, orange blossom, and mineral, nice! The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is lovely, with bracing acidity, nice peach, strawberry, raspberry, and orange blossom, with lovely saline, smoke, and flint, lovely! The finish is long, green, tart, with flint, rock, and sweet quince, just lovely! Drink now! (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
2021 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Fantastique Rose, Cru Classe, Cotes de Provence – Score: 91+ (QPR: GREAT)
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Vermentino The nose of this wine is lovely, more fruity than the Symphonie, with bright fruit, smoke, flint, rock, lemon, and lime, orange, peach, strawberry, and white flowers, just lovely!
The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is impressive, layered, rich, saline, and tart, with great acidity, more pith, peach, strawberry, lovely saline, more tart, and richer than the Symphonie, a true joy! The finish is long, green, and tart, with more strawberry, raspberry, violet, dense pith, and lovely rock, BRAVO! Drink now! (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
Red wines here were tasted blind – in the order posted
2011 Virginie de Valendraud, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose of this wine is lovely, dirty, earthy, chalky, and smoky, with green notes, barnyard, dark Virgchocolate, loads of oak, and red fruit.
The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe, a bit too pushed for me, with great acidity, lovely extraction, layers of fruit, smoke, raspberry, blackberry, rich iron, mineral, oak, plush but also expressive, pushed a bit but perfectly balanced by the acidity and intense minerality, graphite, and sweet spices.
The finish is long, black, green, and spicy, with more minerality, coffee grinds, smoke, and earth. Bravo! Drink by 2025. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13.5%)
2019 L’Esprit de Chevalier, Pessac-Legonan – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER (France) GREAT (USA))
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot.
The nose of this wine is lovely, dark, dense, and rich, but a bit stunted, but so elegant, with green notes, red fruit, earth, smoke, almost no oak, lovely violet notes, fruity, and dirty.
The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ripe, elegant, and smoky, with nice tannin, sweet blackberry, raspberry, roasted herb, menthol, graphite, scraping mineral, mushroom, and lovely loam.
The finish is long, and green, with more raspberry, black fruit, scraping mineral, loam, chocolate, roasted herb, sweet tobacco, graphite, and smoke. Drink from 2024 until 2031. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13.5%)
2019 Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Margaux – Score: 93.5 (QPR: GREAT (France), EVEN (USA))
This wine is a blend of 44% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Cabernet Franc.
The nose of this wine is dense, rich, expressive, fruity, and redolent, with black, blue, and red fruit, with graphite, mineral, rich spice, earth, and dense smoke, impressive! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is dense, layered, rich, extracted, and expressive, while also elegant, smoky, and draped in a rich tannin coat, quite an experience, with saline, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, iron shavings, graphite, a bit of pith, and intense smoke, really impressive. The finish is long, with black, dense, and green notes, with sweet tobacco, green notes, and milk chocolate, really impressive! BRAVO! Drink from 2026 until 2035. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 14%)
2019 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 96+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.
The nose of this wine is incredible, dense, expressive, and elegant, with blue, black, and red fruit, really impressive.
The mouth of this full-bodied wine is full-stop, wow! The mouth of this wine is incredible, dense, elegant, rich, layered, smoky, extracted, and so present, with a rich structure of mineral, graphite, backed by incredible acidity, good oak, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, dense structure, sensual, yet powerful, with a plush yet extracted mouthfeel, truly a unique experience.
The finish is long, green, expressive, rich, layered, and impressive, with tobacco, smoke, earth, scraping minerality, graphite, and rock, wow! Drink from 2030 until 2038. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 15%)
2018 Virginie de Valendraud, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
This is the 2nd time I have had this wine and I tasted it blind the 2nd time and liked it even less than the previous time. The nose on this wine makes me think that Bordeaux moved to Israel for a year. One can say it has no “flaw” but to me, it is too ripe and it has too much oak at this time, maybe it will blow off, who knows!
The nose of this wine is rich, ripe, dark fruit, dense floral notes, with milk chocolate, mineral galore, mushroom, and green notes. The nose throws me as the wine is so ripe yet also so green and it feels unbalanced. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is rich, dense, layered, and incredible but too ripe, with mineral, dense blackberry, boysenberry, rich acidity, dense fruit, with great balance, intense, still ripe, with mouth-drying and draping tannin, with green foliage, asparagus, a bit too much green as well, roasted herbs, and foliage.
Again, here, the mouth starts with green notes from the oak, and the oak notes as well cause me to think the wine is unbalanced. With time, that shows more as pure oak and ripe fruit, two “qualities” I do not love. The finish is long, ripe, green, and smoky, with ripe fruit, anise, leather milk chocolate, smoking tobacco, and green notes. Time will tell, for now scary, but it may come around. Drink from 2027 until 2033. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 15%)
Posted on June 3, 2022, in Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged Blanc, Chateau Marquis d'Alesme Becker, Chateau Sainte Marguerite, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Clos des Lunes, Cuvee Fantastique, Cuvee Symphonie, L'Esprit de Chevalier, Lune D'Argent, Pessac-Leognan, Rose, Virginie de Valandraud. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
Thanks for the notes, though for reasons I don’t want to get into I wish they would’ve come a couple weeks earlier re the SHL…
Just to be pedantic I’m assuming when you wrote pape clement you meant pontet canet?
Sorry I did not post earlier. Also, I did mean Pape Clement. The statement was, of all the wines, including Pape Clement, (which I have not yet posted), the SHL is the best of the group.
Oooooh, new Pape clement big news. Looks like 2019 was one of THOSE years…
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