Category Archives: Kosher French Wine

Another round of QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Hits and Misses, Seven QPR WINNERS – August 2022

OK, with all the Paris wine notes posted, the latest roses posted, and Herzog’s wonderful wines, I am finally at the finish line. This last batch of notes catches me up just in time before the next round of wines shows up. As usual, my QPR posts are a hodgepodge of wines but thankfully we have some nice QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wines.

QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Wines

It has been two months since my last QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) post and many people have been emailing me about some unique wines I have tasted and some lovely wines that are worth writing about.

Thankfully, no matter how much garbage and pain I subject myself to, we are still blessed with quite a few wonderful QPR wines out there. This post includes some nice wines and some OK wines with the usual majority of uninteresting to bad wines.

The story of 2021 Israel whites and roses is very unfortunate, it started with a bang. Matar and a couple of others showed very well. Sadly, after that, every other white and rose wine from Israel was not as impressive. They all show middling work and product, very disappointing indeed. Thankfully, this round has three Israeli WINNERS and two from the 2021 vintage. There is an 8th WINNER here but it is here for documentation purposes and not for advice on what to buy, as it is not available anymore. That being the 2012 Chateau Serilhan.

We have a nice list of QPR WINNERS:

  1. 2012 Chateau Serilhan Cru Bourgeois, Saint-Estephe (Posted as I have never posted this yet, strange)
  2. 2021 O’Dwyers Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – A perennial WINNER
  3. 2021 Castel La Vie Blanc Du Castel, Judean Hills – Finally a 100% Sauvignon Blanc and it is lovely!
  4. 2021 Sheldrake Point Riesling, Dry, Finger Lakes, NY – A lovely 2nd vintage
  5. 2021 Sheldrake Point Gewurztraminer, Finger Lakes, NY – Another lovely 2nd vintage as well
  6. 2021 Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Sauvignon Blanc, Galilee – A nice wine
  7. 2019 Netofa Latour, Red, Galilee
  8. 2020 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico – Perenial winner

There were also a few wines that are a slight step behind with a GREAT or GOOD QPR score:

  1. 2021 Cape Jewel Chenin Blanc, Reserve Collection – one of two wines that shocked me as I expected PAIN
  2. 2021 Unorthodox Sauvignon Blanc, Paarl – the 2nd shocking wine in this tasting
  3. 2020 Dalton Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve, Galilee
  4. 2021 Golan Heights Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Gilgal – not as good as his bigger brother
  5. 2021 O’Dwyers Creek Chardonnay, Marlborough
  6. 2021 Capcanes Peraj Petita, Montsant – one of the best Petita since 2015, still not a WINNER like in 2015

There are a few wines that got a QPR Score of EVEN – meaning expensive or average:

  1. 2021 Vitkin Israeli Journey, White, Israel
  2. 2021 Gush Etzion Gewürztraminer, Judean Hills
  3. 2021 Yaffo White, Judean Hills
  4. 2019 Ramon Cardova Rioja, Rioja
  5. 2020 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, Montsant – nothing interesting but better than previous vintages
  6. 2020 Domaine du Castel Lavie, Rouge du Castel, Jerusalem Hills
  7. 2016 Vitkin Cabernet Franc, Galilee – Drink up!
  8. 2018 Vitkin Carignan, Judean Hills – Drink up!

The others are essentially either OK wines that are too expensive, duds, or total failures:

  1. 2016 Vitkin Shorashim, Israel – a nice enough wine but the price is crazy
  2. 2020 Flam Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Galilee
  3. 2020 De La Rosa Taryag Gruner Veltliner, Burgenland
  4. 2020 De La Rosa Chai 18 White Welsch Riesling, Burgenland
  5. 2021 Unorthodox Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region
  6. 2021 J. De Villebois Pouilly Fume, Loire Valley – so sad after last year’s lovely vintage
  7. 2021 Odem Mountain Chardonnay, Volcanic, Galilee
  8. 2016 Laufer Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Reserve, California – ripe oak juice
  9. 2021 Golan Heights Winery Mount Hermon White, Galilee

Some things that made me stand up and take notice (AKA QPR WINNERS):

The real WINNER here, from the entire list, is the 2012 Chateau Serilhan Cru Bourgeois, Saint-Estephe (posted as I have never posted this yet, for some strange reason), but of the available wines that would be the 2021 O’Dwyers Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. The 2020 O’Dwyers Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough ran out very quickly, I guess that there was not much available or made, as it was right at the start of COVID! The crazy story of how it all came together.

So happy to see Castel finally dropped the Gewurztraminer from their La Vie Blanc Du Castel the solo Sauvignon Blanc is lovely!

Talking about Gewurztraminer, the 2021 Sheldrake Point Riesling and Gewurztraminer from the Finger Lakes shows one can make lovely and reasonably priced wines from the Finger lakes. Bravo Ari!

Nice to see a Yarden wine on this list again, other than the LOVELY sparkling wines, the 2021 Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Sauvignon Blanc hit on all marks.

The last two wines are red and while I loved the 2019 Netofa Latour, Red at the start, it seemed to fall off a bit and that is unfortunate. Finally the 2020 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico is not as good as the 2019 vintage but still a solid wine.

Other wines of note (AKA QPR GREAT or GOOD):

The fascinating wines from this list were the South African wines, the 2021 Cape Jewel Chenin Blanc, Reserve Collection, and the 2021 Unorthodox Sauvignon Blanc, Paarl. I had zero expectations for these wines, so they were a nice find.

The rest are just good enough wines, mostly well priced but not interesting to drink.

Wines that are either good but too expensive or average (AKA EVEN):

This list is also boring, the only real wine to call out, is the 2020 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, Montsant, nothing interesting but better than previous vintages. The same for the Peraj Petita in the category above.

The rest of the wines are not interesting to me and are on this list because of either quality or price.

Wines that are either OK but far too expensive or bad wines (AKA POOR/BAD):

Like on previous versions of these lists there will always be a nice scoring wine that is so expensive it falls into this QPR list. That would be the 2016 Vitkin Shorashim, Israel – a nice enough wine but the price is crazy.

There are also, many duds to losers and I will just leave you to peruse the names and scores down below.

Roundup

Overall another nice list of QPR WINNERS and some GREAT options as well. I can always look at these kinds of lists and say there are only 7 or 8 wines I would want to buy from this entire list, but that would be a defeatist attitude. The correct way to classify this list is we have 7 or 8 more wines available to us and in the end, as I have stated many times now, I cannot buy all the WINNER wines even if I wanted to. There are just too many good wines out there and that is what we should be focused on!

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

Older Wines that I have not posted (or revising):

2012 Chateau Serilhan Cru Bourgeois, Saint-Estephe – Score: 93+ (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 57% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 8% Cabernet Franc, The nose of this wine is lovely, deeply mineral-driven, with intense rock, graphite, charcoal, ripe black fruit, balancing tart raspberry, red plum, sweet spices, and sweet oak.
The mouth of this medium-plus bodied wine is rich, layered, and well-balanced with great acidity, freshly tilled earth, mineral, smoke, hints of barnyard, mushroom, and truffle, followed by ripe blackberry, plum, dark tart raspberry, smoke, and beautiful fresh wine approach – bravo!
The finish is long, dark, green, ripe, but well balanced, with smoke, tobacco, dark chocolate, and lovely mushroom, with tertiary notes soon approaching. This wine was opened too early, such is life, still very lovely and a wine I would open again in 4 years. Drink until 2029. (tasted July 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13%)

2012 Chateau Cheval Brun, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: 91+ (QPR: GOOD)
This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.
The nose of this wine is another giant Brett bomb, with crazy mushrooms, rich green notes, earth, red fruit, smoke, and nice tar. The mouth of this wine is layered, ripe, and lovely, with nice elegance, showing blackberry, raspberry, mineral galore, graphite, earth, mushroom, and forest floor, The wine’s extraction has calmed down but the Brett and barnyard are in full gear.
The finish is long and earthy, with mushroom, barnyard notes, rich tobacco, and tar. Bravo! Drink till 2025, maybe longer. (tasted July 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13%)

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The 2022 Kosher rose season is open and I am underwhelmed – Part 2

I started tasting some of these wines in January and February of this year and at the start, some of them were nice to GREAT. Then the rest of the wines were average to poor. I posted my first round of roses here, in May. Then I posted many posts with roses in each of them from my time in Paris. We have found another WINNER in the USA and one more in Europe, and the best Rose so far, as well. However, I have still not tasted many roses from France, which is unfortunate, as it is already August! They are released in Europe but none of them are here still, such is life! Still, this post has all the roses I have tasted so far this year, some 53 roses in total.

While rose wine in the non-kosher market is exploding – especially Rose wine from Provence; a wine region of France, kosher roses have ebbed and flowed. Last year, the kosher market for roses went into overdrive with options and thankfully this year it is slowing down! Some lovely roses are not on this list and while they will not be QPR WINNER they are quite nice. I will be posting those wines when I post my Paris wine tastings. Still, IMHO, who cares, as I have stated a few times, why are we looking at 35-dollar or more roses when we have better scoring whites wines?

QPR and Price

I have been having more discussions around my QPR (Quality to Price) score with a few people and their contention, which is fair, in that they see wine at a certain price, and they are not going to go above that. So, instead of having a true methodology behind their ideas, they go with what can only be described as a gut feeling. The approaches are either a wine punches above its weight class so it deserves a good QPR score. Or, this other wine has a good score and is less than 40 dollars so that makes it a good QPR wine.

While I appreciate those ideals, they do not work for everyone and they do NOT work for all wine categories. It does NOT work for roses. Look, rose prices are 100% ABSURD – PERIOD! The median rose price has risen a fair amount from last year, some are at 40 to 45 dollars – for a rose! So far, it is around 29 bucks – that is NUTS!

As you will see in the scores below, QPR is all over the place and there will be good QPR scores for wines I would not buy while there are POOR to BAD QPR scores for wines I would think about drinking, but not buying, based upon the scores, but in reality, I would never buy another bottle because the pricing is ABSURDLY high.

Also, remember that the QPR methodology is based upon the 4 quintiles! Meaning, that there is a Median, but there are also quintiles above and below that median. So a wine that is at the top price point is by definition in the upper quintile. The same goes for scores. Each step above and below the median is a point in the system. So a wine that is in the most expensive quintile but is also the best wine of the group gets an EVEN. Remember folks math wins!

Still, some of the wines have a QPR of great and I would not buy them, why? Well, again, QPR is based NOT on quality primarily, it is based on price. The quality is secondary to the price. For example, if a rose gets a score of 87 points, even though that is not a wine I would drink, if it has a price below 29 dollars (that is 7 dollars more than last year – like I said crazy inflation) – we have a GREAT QPR. Again, simple math wins. Does that mean that I would buy them because they have a GREAT QPR? No, I would not! However, for those that still want roses, then those are OK options.

Please remember, a wine score and the notes are the primary reason why I would buy a wine – PERIOD. The QPR score is there to mediate, secondarily, which of those wines that I wish to buy, are a better value. ONLY, the qualitative score can live on its own, in regards to what I buy. The QPR score defines, within the wine category, which of its peers are better or worse than the wine in question.

Finally, I can, and I have, cut and paste the rest of this post from last year’s rose post and it plays 100% the same as it did last year. Why? Because rose again is horrible. There is one Israeli rose, that I have tasted so far, that I would drink, but I would not buy!

The French roses are OK, but nothing to scream about. I still remember fondly the 2015 Chateau Roubine, I tasted it with Pierre and others in Israel, what a wine! I bought lots of that wine in 2016. Last year, I bought no roses, other than for tastings.

The weather in the USA is now getting hot and that unfortunately does not allow me to ship wines from the usual suspects, like kosherwine.com or onlinekosherwine.com. So, while I have tasted many roses, I wish I could order more and get up to date, but sadly, the shipping options are truly slim for now.

So, if you know all about rose and how it is made, skip all the information and go to the wines to enjoy for this year, of the wines I have tasted so far. If you do not know much about rose wine, read on. In a nutshell, 2021 roses are a waste of time. Please spend your money on white wines instead. They exist for a better price, and value, and garner better scores. IF YOU MUST have a rose wine stick to the few that I state below in my Best roses section, right above the wine scores.

Kosher Rose pricing

I want to bring up a topic I have been hammering on in my past posts, price! Yeah, I hear you, Avi Davidowitz, of KosherWineUnfiltered, please quiet down, gloating does not suit you – (smiley face inserted here). The prices of Rose wines have gotten out of control. They are now median priced at 29 dollars with some crazy outliers like 45 or 50 dollars, for a rose! The worst offenders are from Israel followed by the U.S.A. Interestingly, Europe is not the high-priced leader, though that will change once the new Roubines arrive here in the USA, they are already released in Europe.

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Final Tasting from my trip to Paris – May 2022

As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in May, without Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, his lame excuse involved something about marrying off his first child, or something like that, whatever! He was missed but yeah, Mazel Tov!

I kept to my hotel room for much of the trip. All these wines were tasted in my room. Also, as tested before, because of supply chain issues and frankly because there were still too many 2020 wines around, there were very few 2021 wines available for me to buy online or in stores and taste. What I could find, at that time, in May, I bought and I am posting here now.

White & Roses

After tasting roses from Taieb and Royal I had a few more that I found around town. The clear winners here were the 2021 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Cotes de Provence, and the 2021 Chateau Maime Rose, Collection, Cotes de Provence. The 2020 Koenig Riesling is nice and a good rebound for the winery.

Two red wines from Tek Wines

I was sent a few wines from Tek Wine but the two best wines were ones I bought from MesVinCacher, the 2015 Chateau Tour de Bossuet, and the 2015 Chateau La petite Duchesse. The two wines tasted too similar to be different, but try them yourself. The other wines are simple.

Two Israeli wines

As I stated in my IDS Post, Alexandre was in Paris at the same time as I was and he brought along a nice wine from Israel, the 2021 Peer Winery Ayala, another wine with the name Ayala! Anyway, it was nice enough, with good acidity, but a bit short. The other was the 2021 Recanati Sauvignon Blanc, which is too simple to be interesting.

A Magrez wine that works

The 2019 Chateau Pape Clement is the closest thing we have had to a good Magrez wine since the epic 2014 vintage. The wine is nice but the oak and fruit are overpowering and while I liked it to start after a bit of time it felt a bit flabby and oak-driven.

Various Bordeaux Wines

This group had too many poor wines, the nice surprise was a wine from the Ministers of Wine, the 2018 Chateau des Places, Graves. There was also, a non-mevushal Victor 2019 Chateau Guimberteau Graves de Laborde, Cuvee Prestige, Lalande de Pomerol. The rest, were poor.

One Italian Wine

The Aglianico that I had in paris really did not show well and I hope to taste it again soon, maybe here in the USA. But I have posted it here as a baseline.

Thoughts on this tasting

Overall, none of these wines are available in the USA, other than a couple of the roses. The rest will maybe get to the USA eventually or never. If they do get to the USA, by the time you throw in the extra costs, they will not be QPR WINNER.

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

White Wines

2020 Koenig Riesling, Alsace (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
After the mess that was the Pinot Blanc, I was worried the Riesling would also be oxidized, thankfully, that is not the case! The nose of this wine is what I love in lovely Riesling wines, minerality, fruit, honeysuckle, honeyed yellow fruit, and nice petrol. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is fun, bright, tart, and refreshing, with great intense acidity, gooseberry, honeysuckle, honeydew melon, petrol, funk, tart yellow fruit, and lovely green apple, Nice!!! The finish is long, tart, and refreshing, showing tension, intense minerality, slate, smoke, flint, petrol, crazy acidity, and good fruit focus. Bravo! Drink until 2023. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12%)

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Paris tasting of Moise Taieb wines – May 2022

As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in May, without Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, his lame excuse involved something about marrying off his first child, or something like that, whatever! He was missed but yeah, Mazel Tov!
I must start by thanking Yoni Taieb and the rest of Taieb wines for sending the wines to me to taste. In the past, I have made my way to Taieb’s office, once by myself and once with Avi Davidowitz from Kosher Wine Unfiltered.

As stated, in my previous post, I kept to my hotel room for much of the trip. Even vaccinated, I was worried, and am still worried, as I kept to myself, where possible. Mr. Taieb was very kind, to once again, send the wines to the hotel. I then stayed in the hotel room and tasted through them.

As always, you can get these wines and much more from Taieb’s online website. They ship within Europe and to London. Sadly, they are all sold out of the incredible 2019 Burgundies that I enjoyed tasting at Andrew Breskin’s house. The website is selling the 2017 Domaine Chantal Lescure and they will soon have new 2021 J.P. Marchand Burgundies! Thankfully, Andrew has some of them for sale, like the lovely 2017 Domaine Chantal Lescure and the 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand wines – lovely!! Get them while they last!

Tasting in the hotel room

As stated in my Paris Post, Paris was alive, not overcrowded at that time, and masks were pretty much unseen unless you were on the metro. Many in the hotel still wore them but for the most part, it was a non-event. The hotel was great and I was able to taste all the wines that were sent to me or that I bought! Thankfully, I was once again upgraded and the room had all the space I needed.

In the end, it was a wonderful outcome, short of not seeing the Taiebs, again. I had time to taste the wines at my pace, room for all the wines to sit and breathe. As stated, I missed hanging out with Mr. Taieb, and I hope he and his lovely family are doing well!

QPR WINNING Wine Distributor

Since the first time I was lucky to sit down and taste through the Taieb Wine portfolio, I kept commenting to Yoni, about how there were so many good QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wines, for those that live in Europe and London, and even a few for the USA as well! Now, how does this happen? Well, let us talk about Taieb’s wine portfolio. They have an exclusive relationship with Laurent Perrier for producing kosher Champagne, which is great. While they do not make wines like Chateau Smith Haut LafiteChateau Malartic, or Chateau Leoville Poyferre, they do produce and distribute wines, within Europe that are of very high quality at reasonable prices, AKA, QPR WINNERS.

Let us continue with the fact that Taieb makes some of the very best Burgundy wines on the market and has been doing so for more than 10 years now! However, those wines, while wonderful, are not as much QPR as they are quality/score stars! In Bordeaux, Taieb has gone a different route by consistently producing wines, within Bordeaux, that punch well above their weight and many that shock you for the price they are selling at. They may not top out at 95 in scores, like Domaine Chantal LescureDomaine D’Ardhuy (almost), or J.P. Marchand, but they do choose the wineries they work with inside of Bordeaux, incredibly well, to create QPR WINNERS at a very impressive rate!

In the end, that is what differentiates Taieb from the other Kosher wine producers. Sure, Royal Wines does a great job with QPR while also having quality superstars that are hard to fit in the QPR bucket. In my last tasting with Bokobsa, they showed high quality and good prices, in France, for a fair number of wines. Still, when I think of QPR options, within Europe, I think of Taieb’s portfolio! I am consistently shocked at why the folks in London do not buy Taieb wines by the cases – given the wonderful prices, the easy shipping, and the favorable exchange rate. The real Achilles Heel of Taieb Wines, IMHO, is the lack of great distribution and equally solid pricing in the USA.

A total aside, I enjoyed my trip to Paris in May, I got to spend time with family and went to a few lovely restaurants. At one of them, I got some lovely foie gras two ways with a wonderful bottle of 2018 Chateau de Mole! The price for the 1/2 bottle was 28 euros a steal for the wine and the ability to enjoy a lovely, non-mevushal wine, at a wonderful restaurant, that is living!

I am not sure how many of these wines will make it to the USA. The roses will not come but a few of the reds will be brought in by Andrew, at Liquid Kosher, helping to drive Burgundy excellence in the USA, and most recently bringing in some of the better Bordeaux wines, as well. In the end, most of these wines will either not be here or be impossible to find. Still, the two QPR WINNER and some of the QPR GREAT wines will probably be here soon!

In Closing

Again, the theme of excellent Taieb wines being very hard to find in the USA is a consistent issue to me. Thankfully, some of these wines are being brought in by Andrew, at Liquid Kosher, so I hope to taste at least some of these again in the USA soon.
My many thanks to Yoni Taieb and all at Moise Taieb Wines & Spirits for taking the time to send me the wines to my hotel. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:

2018 Pavillon Mougneau, Bordeaux (M) – Score: 85 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is a bit too green for me with notes of foliage, a bit tinny, with loam, smoke, and red fruit. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is nice enough, less tinny and green than others like it, with enough fruit, raspberry, dark cherry, screaming acid, gripping tannin, nice minerality, scraping graphite, and good spice. The finish is long, green, and earthy with more graphite, foliage, jalapenos, and dry mint. Drink until 2024. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13.5%)

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New wines from Chateau Serilhan, Bakus, Domaine Roses Camille, Cantina Giuliano, and TDS Toscana tasted at IDS’ offices – 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 second part of the IDS tasting.

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 brought to taste. This included wines from Ari Cohen’s new wine business Bakus, wines from Chateau Serilhan (M. Marcelis), wines from Domaine Roses Camille, some wines from Cantina Giuliano, and the Toscana from Terra di Seta. The first post focused on the Le Vins IDS and this post will cover the rest of those wines. I will start talking about the wines in the order they were tasted.

Bakus Wines

When I heard that Ari Cohen started to make some kosher wines I looked forward to the moment I got to taste them. They are from Spain and while I adore Elvi Wines, my last post was on their new wines, most of what we get from Spain has not been enjoyable. The wines tend to be overly oaked or overly ripe and not as balanced as I desire. They do work for folks who like that style but for me, they were too unbalanced to work.

They had potential, the wines were made from the Montsant region and one was from the Toro region. The varietals were varied blends, including Tempranillo, Carignan, Grenache, Macabeo, and Grenache Blanc. In the end, the wines were a bit too oak driven and too ripe for my taste.

I was having this conversation over Whatsapp with a few folks and it is truly bewildering how Spain continues to give us fewer kosher options that are enjoyable, while Italy is just blowing the doors off. An interesting thought to think about, thankfully, we still have Elvi Wines.

Cantina Giuliano

Whenever you sell Chianti you are going to be putting yourself under a microscope, as eventually, you will be compared to the original winery of the year, Terra di Seta. Cantina Giuliano has come a long way from the first time I tasted them many years ago. They are still not getting QPR WINNER scores, for their red wines, but they are getting closer.

The white and rose wines were OK, this year they were not as good as previous vintages, but still nice enough. The red wines were a OK as well, just not great, IMHO.

Chateau Serilhan

I loved the 2012 vintage of these wines and I was looking forward to tasting the 2014 and 2015 vintages. Thankfully, they are now released and they are equally enjoyable, though the 2015 Cru Ducasse does not live up to the lofty expectations I had for it after the incredible 2012 vintage blew me away. These wines are not officially here in the USA, but I hear they may make an entrance soon. The 2014 vintage was not available when I was there but I hope to taste it soon.

Domaine Roses Camille

I got the chance to taste the two new DRC wines both in San Jose and in Paris, a few weeks apart and they were absolutely the same, which is good! DRC continues to be one of the true stalwarts of Pomerol and shows the power of the right bank! The 2016 Echo de Roses Camille and the 2018 Clos Lavaud both showed very well and they both are QPR superstars!

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My tasting of Bokobsa/Sieva wines – May 2022

As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in May, and while it took forever to post these notes, I am happy to finally be getting to them at this point. I must start by thanking Clarisse and Lionel Bokobsa of Sieva/Bokobsa Wines. They were so kind to host me and let me taste the lovely wines. I was also joined by Mr. Benjamin Kukurudz, sales manager at Sieva, sadly Mendy Asseraf was onsite at a winery that day. Also, for some reason, I forgot to take pictures, but thankfully, Clarisse did.

So, like my trip last year, I kept in my hotel room for much of the trip. Clarisse was so friendly to set up the tasting so on a bright summer-like morning, I made my way to the Sieva offices, just outside of Paris. Sadly, Alexandre did not join me on this tasting, nor would we meet up again until Friday of that week. Thankfully, he had time on Friday and tasted most of the wines I bought – more on that in posts to come.

Late last year, I enjoyed some lovely wines at the offices, and that was in the throws of the COVID madness. Thankfully, this year both Royal and Bokobosa brought back their events, in June 2022. From the images, I see on my Facebook feed, it looked nice. Mabruk and Mazel Tov guys! Sadly, I knew I was not going to be able to come back in June, so Clarisse and her family were so nice to let me crash in May.

The pricing of these wines is mostly cheaper in France than they are here in the USA, as such, some of the wines have better QPR scores in France. Also, many of these wines will not come to the USA, but overall I continue to be impressed by the quality of the wines and how Bokobsa’s selection and quality have grown from year to year.

In regards to the wines tasted, the two sparkling wines, a Vouvray and the Champagne Demoiselle Vranken were both very nice. The 2019 Chateau Cantelaudette, Cuvee Prestige showed better this time.

My thanks to Clarisse and Lionel Bokobsa and the rest of the Sieva/Bokobsa team for hosting me and letting us taste the wonderful wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:

2021 Selection Bokobsa Chardonnay, Vin de France (M) – Score: 89.5 (QPR: GREAT)
This is a simple but very nice quaff, a wine that shows well and is easy to enjoy while also refreshing. The nose of this wine is a bit stunted but shows well with green apple, pear, herb, and flint. The mouth of this wine is nice, simple, but a nice quaff, with good acidity, flint, a nice mouthfeel, with pear, green apple, citrus, and herb. The finish is long, green, enjoyable, and refreshing, with flint, and nice minerality. Nice! Drink now. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)

2019 Domaine Patrice Bailly Pouilly Fume, La Fontaine des Plumes, Pouilly-Fume – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose of this lovely Pouilly Fume is ripe and well balanced with smoke, flint, blossom, citrus, minerality, rock, lime, and lemon Fraiche, with lovely herbs. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is lovely, tart, and refreshing, with lemon/lime, pomelo, citrus, green apple, quince, hay, smoke, and straw, showing a lovely mouthfeel, precision, and quite nice. The finish is long, green, and mineral-based, with flint, herb, and great fruit and mineral focus, lovely! Drink by 2023. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13.5%)

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Paris tasting of Royal 2021 Roses with some very special 2020 Reds as well – May 2022

Well, this is getting up later than I wished, but that is life. Life, shul, and so much more, got in the way. All good, just wine, and my blog had to be put on the back-burner for a bit. Thankfully, I am ready to post more often now.

So, we return to the story, I landed in Paris, bought lots of wines, and had even more wines shipped to my hotel, and other hotels as well! Long story, not for the blog. Was hilarious walking into a hotel and asking for a package from the concierge while he realizes you are not a guest – think of them as a local Post Office!!

But let us start with the roses and whites I enjoyed in the company of Menahem Israelievitch. These wines are almost all here, except for the three Burgundies that will get here eventually. My guess is that just like all shipping around the world is waiting on boats, or containers, at least they are getting what does arrive here off the boats quickly now.

At the tasting, we enjoyed many lovely wines, and you can read the notes below, I want to point out a few thoughts on them.

  • The non-Mevushal versions of the roses I have had so far from Royal are much better. Mevushal does not work well for roses, at least from how Royal Europe is doing it.
  • The 2021 vintage is OK, at least for non-mevushal roses, better than previous vintages, other than the original Roubine release.
  • Royal has come back with some high-end Pinot Noir from Burgundy and they are showing well now but will improve with time for sure.
  • As I explained in my previous post, the timing of my visit, along with supply chain issues meant that I was not able to taste all the wines that will be available soon from Royal. We are missing the oak-influenced, higher-end Chateau Roubine Inspire and Lion & Dragon wines. Along with all the 2021 white wines I missed. I hope to taste them when they come here to the USA.

In closing, all of these wines will get here eventually, other than the non-mevushal versions of the wines I have already posted here. I cannot say that for the vast majority of wines I will be posting over the next weeks. So many wines made in France either live and die in France and Europe, as a whole or are made JUST for Israel. This new phenomenon started with Shaked, and others have joined in. Either way, lots of French wine is not sold in France and lots of French wine never leaves the country – just the fascinating life of French wine. Most of it is made by very small producers or ones with horrible distribution, and as such, they are very difficult to find. Thankfully, as I stated all of these wines and a few of the Bokobsa wines, a post coming soon, should be available in the USA.

My thanks to Menahem Israelievitch and Royal Wines for hosting me and letting us taste the wonderful wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here. The wine notes are in the order the wines were tasted:

2021 Chateau Roubine R De Roubine Rose, Provence (M) – Score: 83 (QPR: POOR)
The nose of this wine is almost flat while the mouth is a bit expressive with good pith and fruit but again it is missing acidity. Raspberry, strawberry, and flint, with loads of pith and not much else, drink now! (tasted May 2022) (in San Jose, CA & Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)

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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.

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.

Tasting

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.

Red Wines

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.

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My trip to Paris – May 2022

I love the comments I get when I make posts like this. The comments commonly/mostly come from Parisians or ex-pats living elsewhere, telling me that the blog’s name is kosher WINE musings, not kosher travel musings!

So, with that disclaimer aside, yes, I was in Paris earlier this month and I thought I would lay down my thoughts here.

Travel from the USA

Memorial Day is around the corner and as such many of you will be traveling. I have been traveling strong this year for business and personal interests and so I thought I would add in some of my thoughts on domestic and international travel.

To start, I am a person who is the pure antithesis of Elk, well most of us are in so many ways, but in regards to travel, I am adamant to be at the airport at least 1+ hours before takeoff. If you remember June 2021’s post you can see why I am of that mindset.

The good news is that most countries now allow travel for the U.S./European/Canadian vaccinated, and even some without, as well, without prior testing. Still, I like to use this site – it is hosted by TravelDoc and is one of the best overall sites to help you understand your COVID requirements before traveling to a country. Ignore the Air France part, it does not matter what airline you use.

The airports I use, San Jose and San Francisco, for the most part, are calm. You can use Clear or TSA Pre to get around some lines. In Newark and Chicago, the lines were not great but again, Clear and TSA pre help.

Flights are packed, status almost means nothing, and unless you pay your way, I have yet to get any good upgrades. Of course, upgrades are always a YMMV concept, even during the slowest of times.

Finally, overall, flights are hit and miss, so please plan for failure! I mean it! Plan for flights getting canceled and leave room on your itinerary for the sad truth about today’s travel reality, AKA disaster. The hope is you will be fine and then you have more time to spend with friends and family.

Paris May 2022

If you remember my trials and tribulations during my trip to Paris more than a year ago, a few days after they opened their border to many of us from around the world. The rules before, during, and on my return to Paris were as fluid as an oil slick and just as messy. So, I was wondering what things would be like a year later. The flight to Paris required a mask even though it was a US carrier. The flight back did not. Either way, I wore mine most of the time as I got my bout of COVID from my return trip from Kilimanjaro, so I was all in on not repeating that feat.

When I arrived masks were not a requirement, even in my hotel, which was nice, though almost everyone wore one. The traffic on the roads is still a complete disaster, much like in June 2021 and November 2021. The metro was a true joy, they were rarely packed, except for one day and while Paris was full of tourists it felt quiet. The foot traffic was amble but open and if there is any one thing you should do while in Paris, it is walking! The city was built to walk, throw in the architectural beauty, and the ample kosher food options, and one has to wonder why it is not a location overrun with Jewish tourists?? I am not complaining. Of course, I do not like to visit Paris during its peak days, June or July. Anyone visiting Paris in August is a screaming idiot for so many reasons! The shoulders are when you visit Paris and I also would never visit during the off-time as it is bitterly cold and not my cup of tea.

During my time there, half the time was mask-on in the Metro and half the time was mask-off. I wore mine almost always but during the rather hotter days, it was nice to be able to take a break here and there, especially with all the windows open on the 6 line, which is old and not air-conditioned.

My wine tastings

OK, now to the wine, I hear you O! As always, my trips to Paris can never happen without the immense help I get from Ari Cohen, who now is in the “wine business”. More on that later!

My first tasting was with Le Vins IDS and Ben Sitruk from Wine Symphony. We tasted many wines and we did them blind which was quite fun. I will stop there and hope you read it when it posts. Ari’s wines were there along with some other Domaine Roses Camille wines!

Next, I once again tasted the latest from Taieb Wines with the gracious Yoni Taieb sending me the wines to my hotel room! Yoni and his family may not produce Chateau Smith Haut Lafite, like Les Vin IDS, or Chateau Pontet Canet like Royal Wines, but what I keep repeating over and over again is that they create one of the largest numbers of QPR WINNER wines for Europe and even the USA, some of the times. More on that in the post, but overall, the wines keep on hitting and that is what matters!

Moises Cohen, from Elvi Wines, also sent me the new 2021 wines to taste and they were also WINNERS – nothing shocking from the latest 2021 Winery of the Year.

I had a tasting with Menachem Israelievitch from Royal Wines Europe where we tasted his new 2020 Burgundies and some of the 2021 roses. Sadly, with all the supply chain issues, labels, bottles, and corks, everything is delayed. So, the bottling of many wines did not happen yet. Also, some wines are still in the barrels, like the higher-end Chateau Roubine roses, Lion and Dragon. So, we will have to wait for those to come to the USA before I get a chance to taste them, unlike last year.

Finally, I tasted some 25 other wines and once again the majority of them were painful but I did find some QPR WINNER diamonds in the rough.

I did a get a few days to visit with my family and get a chance to see a bit of Paris as well! Now on to the wines!!!

Another round of QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Hits and Misses, Nine QPR WINNERS – May 2022

A side note before we get to the QPR list. I just returned, B”H, from Paris and I know many are interested in my notes from the trip, along with all the roses that are NOT on this list. So, for full disclosure, I will be posting the rose list next and then I will be getting to the wines I enjoyed and suffered in Paris. The good news, there are lots of wonderful wines from the Paris tastings and many will be making their way here. Sadly, the rose list is not that interesting at all. Now on to the QPR list, which will catch me up to almost all the wines before my Paris trip, other than the roses.

QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Wines

It has been a few months since my last QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) post and many people have been emailing me about some unique wines I have tasted and some lovely wines that are worth writing about.

Thankfully, no matter how garbage and pain I subject myself to, we are still blessed with quite a few wonderful QPR wines out there. This post includes some nice wines and some OK wines with the usual majority of uninteresting to bad wines.

I had the fortune of going to Hagafen Wine Cellars with Neal and Elk and the 2018 and 2019 vintages continue to impress. The prices are a bit high but with the price of land and fruit in Napa Valley, the fires, the lack of water, and so much more, the price is what it is. Still, the two QPR winner wines were lovely as were the vast majority of all the wines we enjoyed.

I also had the chance to go to Marciano Estates Winery and the wines showed beautifully there as well. The same can be said about Marciano, in regards to the pricing, both at the price and the reasons for them, so read the notes and make up your minds.

The story of 2021 Israel whites and roses is very unfortunate, it started with a bang. Matar and a couple of others showed very well. Sadly, after that, every other white and rose wine from Israel was not as impressive. They all show middling work and product, very disappointing indeed.

We have a nice list of QPR WINNERS:

  1. 2019 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, CA
  2. 2018 Hagafen Pinot Noir, Prix, Napa Valley, CA
  3. 2020 Domaine du Castel Blanc du Castel, Judean Hills
  4. 2020 Ramon Cardova Albarino, Rias Baixas
  5. 2021 Baron Edmund de Rothschild Rimapere, Marlborough
  6. 2021 Matar Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Galilee
  7. 2021 Gush Etzion Sauvignon Blanc, Judean Hills
  8. 2021 Herzog Sauvignon Blanc, Lineage, Lake County, CA
  9. 2019 Hagafen Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, CA

There were also a few wines that are a slight step behind with a GREAT or GOOD QPR score:

  1. 2018 Hagafen Syrah, Napa Valley, CA
  2. 2019 Hagafen Malbec, Napa Valley, CA
  3. 2019 Carmel Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest, Single Vineyards, Galilee
  4. 2021 Dalton Chardonnay, Unoaked, Galilee
  5. 2020 Pascal Bouchard Chablis, Chablis
  6. 2021 Tabor Sauvignon Blanc, Galilee
  7. 2020 Matar Chardonnay, Galilee
  8. 2015 Louis Blanc Crozes Hermitage, Vintage, Crozes Hermitage
  9. 2019 Koenig Riesling, Alsace
  10. 2019 Matar Stratus, Galilee
  11. 2021 Or Haganuz Blanc, Galille
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