Category Archives: Kosher Wine
A tasting of Taieb JP Marchand Burgundies, a massive Domaine Roses Camille vertical, two Taieb Bordeaux verticals, and more!
I am sorry for the long title, I really could not succinctly summarize the tasting I had last week with Neal and Andrew Breskin in not-so-sunny San Diego. Neal and I flew in from different parts of the country on a no so warm Monday morning, I picked up Neal at the airport, and we made our way to Andrew Breskin’s home, the proprietor and founder of Liquid Kosher.
I had been bugging Andrew that it was time to meet again for a tasting of the new 2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Burgundies. I had tasted them with Avi Davidowitz in Paris, but as I said in that post, I was hoping to taste them again with the opportunity to see if they evolve with a bit of time, after opening. While I liked them in Paris, I was wondering if they would evolve with a bit more time. As stated in that post, we both flew home the next day and we did not have the chance to see them evolve over a day or so.
Thankfully, my calendar worked out, and we arrived on the day of Rosh Chodesh Shevat. The morning started with me picking up some breakfast at this lovely, but expensive bakery in La Jolla called Parisien Gourmandises. Before I continue with the story, please visit this place, when/if you are in the San Diego area. I do not like to say I am a picky eater, however, my opinions of food/food establishments, when traveling can be a bit coarse. I have recently been in Florida and Paris for different wine tastings and this bakery had better croissants and flaky dough pastries than either the bakeries in Paris or the wonderful bakery in Fort Lauderdale called Moran Patisserie Bakery. The people, food, and overall ambiance are really impressive, and aside from the actual location (a small room inside a potpourri store – you have to be there to understand), the food is worth the price of admission. Now on to the rest of the story!
I then picked up Neal at the airport, as stated above, and 20 minutes later we were ensconced under the shade of lemon trees and tasting wonderful wines.
The schedule was open-ended and after a lovely cup of coffee and Parisien Gourmandises pastries, we were ready to settle down for a day of wine tasting.
We started the tasting with two Champagne, one of them was simple enough and lacking in bubbles while the other one was nice and very accessible. The first one was N.V. Louis de Vignezac, Cuvee Special, Brut and the second was N.V. Champagne Charles de Ponthieu.
After those two aperitifs, it was time for some Burgundy! We started with the 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault followed by the 2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault. Having the opportunity to taste the two of them side-by-side was quite a treat! I had not tasted the 2019 Meursault in 2 years. I had it with Andrew and Gabriel Geller later in 2021 as well, but I have less of a memory of that time.
We then started in on all of the 2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand red Burgundies and they were an exact match to the wines I had in Paris in late November 2022. They are all lovely wines with a floral approach. Even the 2017 and 2019 Gevrey Chambertin that we had later that night followed that approach. The Gevrey has more weight but overall their approach is more for the ethereal Pinot Noir than the full-bodied one.
Once we had tasted the Pinot Noir we had the opportunity to taste some soon-to-be-released Domaine Roses Camille wines, including 2016, 2017, and 2018 vintages. To be fair, I am never a fan, interested in tasting unreleased wines as they may change before being bottled. Thankfully, the 2016 and 2017 vintages are already bottled, while 2018 was a tank sample.
All the Domaine Roses Camille wines were exceptional but as I stated before I wanted the opportunity to taste them again the following day. So after our initial tasting of the wines, Andrew got some plastic Ziplock bags and bagged me some 30 ml of each wine and labeled each bag to boot! This assured me two things, I will have wine to taste the next day, as the wines were open for the dinner that was fast approaching, and I knew what each wine was, the following day!
The bags worked like a charm, Andrew placed them in a box and moved them to the garage where they stayed until the following morning – bravo my man!
Dinner – AKA SoCal RCC Jan 2023
After all the wines were tasted and bagged it was time to focus on dinner. Andrew had already started on the beautiful ribs and was getting the rib roast prepared. It was about that time that I looked at the rib fat/sauce and I started skimming off the obvious fat and then worked on cooking it down a bit and thickening it with some simple starch slurry.
After that, Andrew started cooking some nice Gnocchi and then pan-seared them. I helped a bit with this and the potatoes. I laugh because there is this Italian chef who lives in Australia (Vincenzo Prosperi of Vincenzos Plate) that loves to rant about other chefs who do things that are not exactly Italian! LOL, he tore apart some chefs for doing this very thing, but honestly, I found them very enjoyable!
Soon after Neal and I finished helping here and there the guests started to arrive. The first was Elan Adivi, who works with Jeff’s Sausage and he came armed with a basket full of sausage, charcuterie, and rectangle pie crusts. He made some pretty good pizzas and he topped them with the only green things that graced any of our plates, some arugula, though to be honest, no one went hungry that night!
The evening started with some lovely sushi and the Champagnes we tasted earlier along with some 2019 La Chablisienne, which was a nice enough Mevushal Chablis.
After the Sushi, it was red meat and wine all the way, which is the only way an RCC should be! The Ribs and the Rib Roast were just awesome, and my sauce reduction was not bad either! The Pizzas turned out quite nicely, as well. There was also some very interesting beef jerky, but I did not catch where they were sourced from, I think Andrew had them flown in from Holy Jerky in Five Towns, the stuff was solid!
First I tried the Burgundies again, as well I wanted to see if they had evolved over a few hours, but nothing had changed much. Next, I enjoyed tasting the three Gevrey Chambertin from Jean-Philippe Marchand. Much like the 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault I had not tasted the 2017 or 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Gevrey Chambertin for many a year.
Of the three, at their current place, I would still go for the new 2021 Gevrey, which is quite surprising to me but also makes me happy to see that there were some good wines from the 2021 vintage.
I then tasted the two mini-verticals of Chateau Castelbruck, Margaux, and Chateau Haut-Breton Larigaudiere. We had 2018, 2019, and 2020 vintages of the Chateau Castelbruck, and Chateau Haut-Breton Larigaudiere. The two wine verticals had not evolved very far from what I had over the past three years. Some wines evolve over a short period, and while these did change slightly from previous tastings, the evolution was more about which fruit emerged ahead of another rather than moving into a drinking window or showing tertiary notes.
Domaine Roses Camille Vertical
Each of 2011, 2012, and 2014 vintages had clearly evolved with the 2011 vintage almost entering a drinking window. The younger wine (2015) followed the same script as the Taieb Bordeaux and did not change much, if anything, at this point. The even younger wines were all new to me so they may have evolved since being bottled but I would not know.
It was great getting to taste these wines all side by side and seeing the impact of a season on the same vineyard. AKA, Horizontal tasting 101!
After the DRC work, I tried the famous 1997 Chateau de Fesles Bonnezeaux, it had clearly passed its prime but it was nice enough indeed! If you have any still, drink NOW!! I also tried some Montelobos Mezcal Pechuga – it was smoked with kosher Turkey Breast!!! LOL!! Yeah, it was fun! There were some 1999 and 2001 Chateau Guiraud passed around but I missed them and that is fine, I know them well.
It was great hanging out with Shimon Weiss from Shirah Winery and Alex Rubin (a winemaker helping the guys), and I first met Alex on my way to Josh’s wedding in the plane jetway! Life is such a small world! If any of this sounds familiar, in some manner, you have a great memory! Indeed, in August of 2012 found me, along with the aforementioned Shimon Weiss, and Jonathan Hajdu with the same awesome hosts getting together for an awesome event! It was a lunch to truly remember!
Noon, the next day, I crashed at Andrew’s place, once again, and I tasted through the Burgundies from the plastic bags some had indeed evolved and improved, but none took a step backward.
Once I was done tasting through the wines I bid my adieu and made my way to the airport! The sad fact is that if you have no status you get what you pay for! I was done a few hours before my flight home, but I flew down using Southwest and I have no status with them, so changing a ticket the day of, would have cost me an arm and leg, so I sat in the terminal and waited for my plane. Of course, the plane was eventually delayed, but my plane was so empty they had to distribute us across the plane – so yeah, I was fine! It is all about perspective – right?
My thanks to Andrew and Shauna Breskin for hosting the tasting and for putting up with me and everyone else who crashed their home for more than 24 hours! Also, I used many of Andrew’s lovely pictures – thank you, sir!!! The notes speak for themselves.
N.V. Louis de Vignezac Cuvee Special, Brut, Champagne – Score: 89 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose of this wine is very yeasty, with baked goods, lemon/lime, and green apple. The mouth o this medium-bodied wine is ok but uni-dimensional, with nice minerals, green/yellow apple, and lime, but not much more than the acid and the fruit to grab you. The mousse is ok, not bracing and not attacking, but the acidity is great. The finish is long, and tart, with pear, apple, and lime. Drink now. (tasted January 2023) (in San Diego, CA) (ABV = 12.5%)
N.V. Champagne Charles de Ponthieu, Champagne – Score: 91 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is screaming with bright fruit, rich minerality, slate, rock, baked goods, pear, and apple. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is fresh, with great fruit focus, a lovely small bubble mousse, pear, apple, lime, baked apple pie, and lovely yeast, with floral notes. The finish is long, fruity, balanced, tart, lovely, refreshing, and focused. Nice! Drink now! (tasted January 2023) (in San Diego, CA) (ABV = 12.5%)
2019 La Chablisienne Chablis, Cuvee Casher, Chablis (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose of this wine is nice enough with nice minerality, smoke, and saline, pear, and apple. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ok, a bit cooked, funky, and fruity, with apple, pear, and lemon/lime. The finish is long, cooked, and flinty, nice! Drink UP! (tasted January 2023) (in San Diego, CA) (ABV = 12.5%)
As you all know, I am a huge fan of Four Gates Winery, and yes Benyamin Cantz is a dear friend. So, as is my custom, as many ask me what wines I like of the new releases, here are my notes on the new wines.
I have written many times about Four Gates Winery and its winemaker/Vigneron Benyamin Cantz. Read the post and all the subsequent posts about Four Gates wine releases, especially this post of Four Gates – that truly describes the lore of Four Gates Winery.
Other than maybe Yarden and Yatir (which are off my buying lists – other than their whites and bubblies), very few if any release wines later than Four Gates. The slowest releaser may well be Domaine Roses Camille.
Four Gates grapes versus bought grapes
It has been stated that great wine starts in the vineyard, and when it comes to Four gates wine, it is so true. I have enjoyed the 1996 and 1997 versions of Benyamin’s wines and it is because of the care and control that he has for his vineyard. That said, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes he receives from Monte Bello Ridge show the same care and love in the wines we have enjoyed since 2009.
I have immense faith in Benyo’s wines which are sourced from his vineyard and the Monte Bello Ridge vineyard. The other wines, that he creates from other sources, are sometimes wonderful, like the 2010 Four Gates Syrah that I tasted recently, and I would have sworn it was a Rhone wine, crazy minerality, acid, and backbone, with fruit NOT taking center stage, though ever so evident, the way is meant to be! Others, while lovely on release may well not be the everlasting kind of Four Gates wines.
One new wine
This year we have the return of Petit Verdot is from the Santa Clara Valley AVA, and another Malbec from the same vineyard as in 2019, in Santa Cruz, but not from the Four Gates vineyards. There is a new Cabernet Franc, all the way from Santa Barbara County, not a location I normally associate with Cabernet Franc, but it is a REAL WINNER, in all ways!
That ends the list of wines I call – not Four Gates wines. I state this because the Four Gates Cabernet Sauvignon, is also not from the Four Gates vineyard, but for all intent and purpose, of what I care about, the quality is as good or better than the Four Gates vineyard and it has proven itself as such for more than a decade!
The rest of the wines are the normal suspects, though this year’s crop feels riper than the 2017s, still, the Cabernet and Merlot are incredibly beautiful wines. There are two Chardonnay and they are both sold under the Four Gates label, there is no Ayala this year. Next, you have the 2019 Pinot Noir, a bit riper than I like it but a solid wine. Then you have the 2018 Merlot and the 2018 Merlot, La Rochelle, both are beautiful wines! The true star of this release is the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, a shockingly ripe but true wine, the fruit is clean, expressive, and true to its nature, a lovely and very unique wine. Finally, there is the 2018 Frère Robaire, which while nice, is a step back from what I expect from a Frère Robaire.
Prices and Quantities
I have heard it over and over again. That I and others caused Benyo to raise his prices. First of all that is a flat-out lie. I never asked for higher prices, but when asked about the value of his wines, the real answer I could give was more than 26 dollars.
Let us be clear, all of us that got used to 18/26 dollar prices and stocked up on his wines in those days should be happy. The fact that he raised prices, is a matter of basic price dynamics, and classic supply and demand. Four Gates has been seeing more demand for wines while the quantity of what is being made is slowing down.
The law of Supply and Demand tells you that the prices will go up, even if you beg for lower prices.
Four Gates Winery is one of the few cult wineries in the kosher wine world that releases wines every year. Sure there have been crazy cult wines, like the 2005 and 2006 DRC wines, or some other such rarities. His wines are in a class of their own, especially when it is his grapes, and there is less of it out there.
This year, the prices reached their highest Zenith, and it took some 30 minutes to fully sell out. The lower-priced wines sold out in the usual 8 or so minutes while the Cabernet and Merlot and Frère Robaire were the last to go. Still, the crazy prices people paid for the Auction wines that just finished selling this past Sunday show the intense demand for Four Gates wines.
My thanks to Michel and Sima Rynderman for hosting the tasting and for putting up with me and Benyo crashing their home and keeping them both up far later than we should have!! Also, Michel’s awesome Apple phone was used to take lovely pictures – thank you, sir!!!
The notes speak for themselves. Again, this year, I “liked” all the options for sale, though I did not buy the Malbec in case anyone is asking. 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:
2021 Four Gates Chardonnay, Cuvee Rishon, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
This is a very unique wine from Four Gates. This is a Chardonnay that was picked early, hence the “Cuvee Rishon” name. It is very different than previous vintages – very cool! The nose of this wine is fruity, not oak-bomb, with rich gooseberry, guava, melon, and Asian Pear, very fun, with rich saline, orange blossom, jasmine, and spice. The mouth of this medium-plus-bodied wine is not in line with the nose, with a lovely mouthfeel, great acidity, sweet oak, spice, orange, nectarines, green/yellow apple, Asian pear, and lovely sweet oak, sweet baking spices, and more saline. The finish is long, tart, ripe, balanced, and refreshing, with lovely vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, sweet oak, and yellow blossom lingering long. Bravo!! Drink until 2030. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
2021 Four Gates Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 91.5 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is fruity, not oak-bomb, with rich guava, melon, Asian Pear, honeydew, rich saline, orange blossom, jasmine, and spice. The mouth of this medium-plus-bodied wine is more in line with the nose, with a slightly fuller mouthfeel than the Cuvee Rishon, nice acidity, sweet oak, spice, orange, lemon/pomelo, yellow apple, Asian pear, and lovely sweet oak, sweet baking spices. The finish is long, tart, ripe, balanced, and refreshing, with lovely vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, sweet oak, and yellow blossom lingering long. Bravo!! Drink until 2028. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
2020 Four Gates Petit Verdot, Santa Clara Valley, CA – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
This is what Petit Verdot should smell and taste like, clean lines, not over the top, and well-balanced. The nose of this wine is lovely, with bright fruit, smoke, herbs, lovely baking spices, roasted animal, soy sauce, lovely violet, rosehip, and nice black, red, and blue fruit. Nice! The mouth of this medium to full-bodied wine is layered, and lovely, with ripe boysenberry, raspberry, ripe strawberry, and ripe plum, all wrapped in sweet tannin, cedar, smoke, and intense acid, well balanced, with gripping tannin, and nice fruit focus. Bravo! The finish is long, bright, tart, ripe, and balanced, with more smoke, leather, roasted meat, and great fruit. Drink until 2026. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14%)
2020 Four Gates Malbec, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – Score: 88 (QPR: POOR)
The nose of this wine is too ripe for me but this will hit the spot for those that like this style. The nose of this wine changes quickly and turns very fruity, too ripe, with zinberry, ripe blackcurrant, leather, meat, smoke, tar, and over-the-top fruit. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is too ripe for me, almost fig-like, with dried fig, blackcurrant, smoke, dried plum, and mouth-draping tannin with nice sweet oak. The finish is long, ripe, over-the-top, and smoky. Drink by 2026. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 15.2%)
2020 Four Gates Cabernet Franc, Santa Barbara County, CA – Score: 92.5 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is sourced from Santa Barbara County and it shows. The nose of this wine starts with nice bell pepper, spice, cloves, cinnamon, gravel, hints of jalapeno, and nice red fruit. The mouth of this medium-bodied-plus is ripe, with nice ripe strawberry, raspberry, plum, and hints of elderberry, with a bit too much green notes, nice acidity, good fruit focus, nice acidity, refreshing, with good mouth-draping tannin, and some elegance, nice! The finish is long, tart, ripe, and fruity, with good acidity, nice leather, vanilla, and good red/blue fruit. Drink until 2030. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.2%)
In May 2020 I wanted to drive home the need for QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wines. So I set out to create what I thought a QPR metric should be! Gone were arbitrary price ranges and such. Instead, I let the market define what the QPR price range should be. I did this by grouping the wines by their type (white, red, rose, sparkling, and dessert) and then further refined the grouping by ageability within the white and red wines. This gave me the following groups:
- Drink “soon” White Wine (Simple whites)
- Rose Wine (always drink soon)
- Drink “soon” Red Wine (Simple reds)
- Mid-range aging Reds (4 to 11 years)
- High-end Red wines (11 and more years)
- High-end White wines (7 and more years)
- Sparkling Wine (No need here for extra differentiation)
- Dessert Wine
I then made the mistake of trying to create an Orange wine range/group – that was a HUGE mistake. Again, the wines themselves were not the issue, the issue revolved around trying to group such a small sample set into its group. They will go into their respective white wine category, next year.
Throughout the year, I posted many QPR posts, for almost all of the main categories. I will continue down this road until I find a better way to categorize and track wines that are QPR WINNERS. Talk about WINNERS, that secondary QPR score was a 2.1 revision to my QPR scoring, and that is explained in this post. All the wines listed here are QPR WINNERS from my tastings in 2022.
Let us discuss the approach
I have heard from a few of you. I do not understand your QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) scoring. So, let us take another shot at this! Every time a customer comes into a shop or goes online to buy kosher wine they have a choice of a few thousand wines, online, or many hundreds in a store. The question is how does a buyer differentiate one wine from the next?
If they like Terra di Seta wines, as I do, and it costs 30 dollars then he/she will compare other wines to that wine, in regards to the wine and the price. That is the same for any wine they like and any wine they are looking at buying. Price matters! Now, the real question is how can you compare two wines to each other? Any two wines in the world of kosher wines? What characteristics can you use to compare them?
Let us say they like the 2018 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah, the 2022 wine of the year (AKA best-priced QPR wine). It is a red wine from Montsant, Spain. OK, what other wine can you compare with it? You can compare other Montsant kosher wines, like the Cellar Capcanes wines. However, the Cellar Capcanes wines have an issue – they have been poor for many years! As the ratio states it is QUALITY to price! Quality is primary; once you have a good wine, you can attempt to compare it with similarly good wines.
OK, so we need equal or comparably equal quality and that is it??? So, let us say there exists a rose from Montsant that scores the same quality score as Clos Mesorah are they comparable? What about a white wine – same? Can/should compare them? I will tell you that no one would act in such a manner. People will compare items. OK, so are we then forced to compare Montsant wines with Montsant wines – again I will tell you no! People will compare like-scored red wines with like-scored red wines.
OK, but what is “like” – that is the body of work that my QPR approach works to answer. If you agree that people will attempt to compare items that are similar in nature but not locale, region, or price, what is that characteristic that they will use to compare two arbitrary kosher wines? Price IS NOT the answer.
So, let us recap – we have two similarly scored wines (AKA quality) but they are very different in many ways. Let us look at three of the wines below, two of which are from the greater Medoc region:
- 2020 Chateau Clarke, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Listrac-Medoc – Score: 92.5 (QPR: WINNER)
Drink from 2025 until 2032. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13.5%)
- 2020 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, Listrac – Medoc – Score: 92.5 (QPR: WINNER)
Drink from 2024 until 2035. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
- 2019 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande de Pomerol – Score: 92.5 (QPR: WINNER)
Drink from 2024 until 2032. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 15%)
These wine price from 38 dollars to 55 dollars. The question you need to ask is are they comparable? I would state they are and I would further state that wine buyers compare them every time they read my lists and other lists that like these wines. Again, the primary requirement is quality – and these all scored the same quality score.
So, next, would you at least compare two Listrac-Medoc wines to each other? The Chateau Fourcas Dupre and the Chateau Clarke? I would say yes for sure. Well, why is the Royaumont any different? They are very different wines, of course, but in the end, what do oenophiles buy such wines for?? To store them and share them at a later date, meaning that wine buyers classify wines by regions but ultimately they classify them by their ability to age gracefully or not! Meaning some wines age beautifully and many are good to enjoy in the coming years.
So, now you see the logic to the categories I use to compare wines – this is the list once again:
- Drink “soon” White Wine (Simple whites)
- Rose Wine (always drink soon)
- Drink “soon” Red Wine (Simple reds)
- Mid-range aging Reds (4 to 11 years)
- High-end Red wines (11 and more years)
- High-end White wines (7 and more years)
- Sparkling Wine (No need here for extra differentiation)
- Dessert Wine
Essentially, ignoring sparkling, rose, and dessert wines, there is white wine and red wine. Each of those two major categories is broken into their age-ability. Red wines have three age ranges while white wine has two. Then there are the other three aforementioned groups, rose, sparkling, and dessert wines.
Once you have scored a wine – IRRELEVANT to the price – this is KEY you are then required to place that wine into one of the 8 categories listed above. Once you have done that any wine in that category is available for comparison. Using the median approach wines are stacked and ranked by their price, within that category, and some rise above others, by having an equal or better quality for a lower or equal price. Please read more about this here and here.
This year, the list came to a total of 24 names, and none had to dip below 92+ in the scores, which is a large number and better scores overall than last year, but again, the pool from where they are culled continues to grow, and the diamonds in the rough are getting harder and harder to find. There are 24 or so WINNER that scored 92+ this year but not in a single area.
Like last year, we return with QPR for France, the prices for many wines there, are dirt cheap! There is also QPR for the USA, which is the default. Finally, some wines are QPR here in the USA but not in France.
Maybe, Avi Davidowitz, from kosher wine unfiltered, can create a list like that for Israel, this year, a bunch of wines became available there, and a proper QPR list would be worthwhile!
The wines on the list this year are all available here in the USA, and in Europe, and a few can be found in Israel, as well. 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 Clos Mesorah, Montsant – Score: 94 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose of this wine shows more black fruit than the 2019 vintage, with lovely blackberry, smoke, root beer, and roasted animal, more than 2019, with some red fruit, a bit bluer, with white and pink flowers that emerge after time, raspberry, and mineral. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, layered, elegant, and a bit riper than 2019, with rich salinity, sweet oak, black olives, blackberry, plum, boysenberry, root beer, dark currants, anise, and rich mouthfeel and fruit structure, that gives way to saline, roasted herbs, and graphite. The finish is long, dark, brooding, smoky, earthy, forest floor, and blackcurrants, with dirt, loam, clay, leather, and rich spices. Bravo!! Drink from 2027 until 2036. (tasted November 2021) (in Montsant, Spain) (ABV = 15.5%)
2020 Château Olivier Grand Cru Classe, Pessac-Léognan – Score: 94 (QPR: WINNER (France), GOOD (USA))
The nose of this wine is quite nice, a wine I would drink, with a bit of soy sauce, rich salinity, mushroom, earthy, and dirty, like a rich and redolent mud pen, with a bit of heat, and lovely smoke. With time, the heat drops off, ripe, muddy, mushroom haven, lovely! The mouth of the full-bodied wine is dense, layered, rich, and concentrated, with rich extraction, dark and brooding, with juicy blackberry, ripe strawberry, mushroom, forest floor, wet leaves, rich salinity, soy sauce, umami, just a fun, ripe, savory, and dirty wine. The finish is long, dark, and brooding, but well controlled, one of those rare ripe/dirty/earthy controlled monsters, with dense minerality, scraping graphite, ripe fruit, and leather, Bravo! Drink until 2035. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 14.5%)
2019 Chateau Tour Seran, Medoc – Score: 94 (QPR: WINNER (France))
This is one of the best wines of our blind tastings here in the hotel. The nose of this wine is lovely, and perfectly balanced, with licorice, smoke, black and red fruit, char, toasty oak, loam, lovely mushroom (that comes out after a few hours), and forest floor. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is dense, ripe, layered, and rich with good acidity, richly extracted, but savory, not overly ripe, a real joy, with blackberry, ripe raspberry, currants, dense loam, forest floor, with scraping minerality, graphite, tar, and rock, this is too much fun! The finish is long, and mineral-driven, with good fruit focus, great graphite, and rock. Drink until 2036. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 14%)
2019 Clos Mesorah, Montsant – Score: 93.5 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is beautiful with lovely floral notes of rosehip, violet, tisane tea, and red and blue fruit, with roasted herb, smoke, roasted animal, rhubarb, dried cherry, and lovely forest floor notes. The mouth on this medium-plus bodied wine is lovely with screaming acidity, lovely dark raspberry, plum, tart currant, mouth-draping tannin, rhubarb, dark cherry, with lovely green notes, rich saline, mineral, spice, roasted herb, lovely blackberry, smoke, and rich graphite. The finish is long, green ripe, blackberry, with saline, smoke, blueberry, leather, cloves, cinnamon, and sweet oak, bravo!!! Drink from 2026 until 2034. (tasted November 2021) (in Montsant, Spain) (ABV = 15.5%)
2020 Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe – Score: 93.5 (QPR: WINNER (FRANCE), USA(EVEN))
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon & 45% Merlot.
The nose of this wine is a less ripe wine, with savory notes, lovely green and red fruit, elegant redolence, minerality, lovely iron shavings graphite, beautiful pencil shavings, with incredible raspberry, cherry, and rich smoke. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is lovely, elegant, extracted, rich, and beautiful with ripe and juicy cherry, elegant tart/juicy raspberry, beautiful smoke, intense and elegant charcoal/graphite, just lovely, with red fruit, loam, and mouth-scraping tannin. The finish is long, red, ripe, and smoky, with great tobacco, rosemary, savory notes, dark chocolate, loam, leather, and lovely smoke. Drink from 2023 until 2033. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2016 ElviWines Herenza Rioja, Reserva, Rioja – Score: 93.5 (QPR: WINNER)
This is what I crave in wine – balance, complexity, elegance, and all bottled for a price that makes it a WINNER! The nose of this wine is beautiful, balanced, complex, and lighter than 2014, but still bold, rich, and expressive, soy sauce, umami, rich mushroom, loam, spices, blue and red fruit, and sweet anise, lovely! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is not as bold as the 2014 and it starts a bit ripe, with time the wine opens to show balance, dark blueberry, plum, candied/spiced raspberry, and rich sweet spices give way to a mouth-draping elegance, sweet tannin, plush mouthfeel, and rich loam, clay, and earth, beautiful. The finish is long, and balanced, with leather, sweet tobacco, root beer, sweet baking spices, cloves, cinnamon, sweet cedar, dark chocolate, and rich searing acidity that brings this wine altogether. Bravo!! Another smash! Drink from 2024 until 2032. (tasted November 2021) (in Montsant, Spain) (ABV = 14.5%)
My top 25 kosher wines of 2022, including the Wine of the Year, Winery of the Year, the Best Wine of the Year, and the Best Mevushal wines of the year awards
Like last year, I wanted to make this post short and sweet – so the criteria are simple. I could care less about price, color, or where it was made. All that matters is that it is/was available this year sometime to the public at large and that I tasted it in a reliable environment, not just at a tasting, and that it scored a 93 or higher.
We are returning with the “wine of the year”, “best wine of the year” “Winery of the Year”, and “Best White wine of the year”, along with a last year’s new addition the – “Best Mevushal wine of the year”. Wine of the year goes to a wine that distinguished itself in ways that are beyond the normal. It needs to be a wine that is easily available, incredible in style and flavor, and it needs to be reasonable in price. It may be the QPR wine of the year or sometimes it will be a wine that so distinguished itself for other reasons. The wines of the year are a type of wine that is severely unappreciated, though ones that have had a crazy renaissance, over the past two years. The Best Wine of the year goes to a wine well worthy of the title.
The Mevushal wine of the year is something I dread. I understand the need for a wine that can be enjoyed at restaurants and events, but when we start seeing Château Gazin Rocquencourt and Chevalier de Lascombes go Mevushal – we know we have a problem. As I have stated in the past, if this is what needs to happen, then please sell both options as many do with Peraj Petita/Capcanes, Psagot wines, and many others. Still, it is a wine and as such, it needs a best-of-the-year moniker, so we do it once again!
This past year, I tasted more wines than I have ever, in the past. Now to be clear here, I did not taste many Israeli wines as they have proven to me over and over again, even with the much-ballyhooed 2018 vintage that they are not worth my spending my money on. Still, I did taste a large number of Israeli wines both in my home and at KFWE events. I spent a fair amount of time tasting all the French and European wines I could get my hands on and I feel that is where I added the most value, IMHO. For those that like the Israeli wine style – other writers/bloggers can point you in some direction. This past year, was a return to an above-average year but not as good as last year’s list because last year’s 2019 wines were incredible and precise.
Last year’s list was star-studded and was driven by the incredible 2019 vintage. This year’s list is solid and will highlight a few top 2020 wines, but the clear winner will highlight a 2019 wine that missed making last year’s list because it was released later.
There are also interesting wines below the wines of the year, think of them as runner-up wines of the year. There will be no rose wines on the list this year. If last year, I thought the roses were pure junk, this year, you can add another nail in the coffin of rose wines, IMHO. Last year’s list was stronger with some 123 WINNER wines, this year we had 95. Still, another overall solid year.
Royal Wines continues to impress with the wines they make or import. However, slowly, more lovely wines are being made from other sources though they are harder to find in the USA or outside of Europe.
Now, separately, I love red wines, but white wines – done correctly, are a whole other story! Sadly, in regards to whites, we had no new wines from Germany, still. Thankfully, we have some awesome entries, from the incredible 2020 Chateau Malartic Blanc to the lovely 2021 Covenant Solomon Blanc, to the beautiful 2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault.
Finally, this year is the year of the Clos! Between the awesome Wine of the Year – the 2018 Clos Mesorah and the Clos Lavaud from Domaine Roses Camille, the Winery of the year, long live the Clos!!!
The wines on the list this year are all available here in the USA, and in Europe, and a few can be found in Israel, as well. 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 2022 Kosher Winery of the Year
This award continues to get harder and harder each year. The sad cold, hard truth is that there are too few great kosher wineries. When I started this award, some 4 years ago I thought it would only get easier. Sadly, there are a few truths that limit my ability to give out this award.
First, as much as we have been blessed with great Kosher European wines, in the past 6 years, most of those blessings come under the auspices of single-run kosher wines. Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, you name it, are all based upon kosher runs. What we have in Europe, kosher-winery-wise, is Terra di Seta, Cantina Giuliano, and Elvi Wines (including Clos Mesorah). Along with this year’s winner, Domaine Roses Camille. Officially, Domaine Roses Camille only became 100% kosher in 2020, but for all intent and purpose, they have been producing the vast majority of their wines in kosher, since 2011.
The requirements to receive this award are simple, the winery must be kosher, not a kosher-run, the quality must be consistent, and the wines must be readily available. The last requirement is the main reason why Four Gates Winery has yet to win the award, but at this point, it is only a matter of time, as kosher wine availability is becoming less of an issue overall, given the sheer number of cult-like kosher wineries that exist today.
Domaine Roses Camille was one of those cult-like wineries at the start when they produced a stunning 2005 Pomerol. It hit that cult status when the late Daniel Rogov called it the best kosher wine he had ever had, at that point, anyway.
As always, my disclaimers. The U.S. importer of Domaine Roses Camille is Andrew Breskin, of Liquid Kosher, and a person I call a friend. This past week I spent two days with him tasting many a wine, that post will follow my year-in-review posts, along with the Four Gates Winery new releases post.
Domaine Roses Camille’s winemaker is Christophe Bardeau. I have had the honor of meeting him a few times and he always comes across as a kind and professional person. While the main two wines, Domaine Roses Camille and the Echo Roses Camille come from Pomerol, he also makes wines from other regions in Bordeaux, like the Clos Lavaud (Lalande de Pomerol), Chateau Moulin de la Clide (a wine that took on its cult-like status as it was sadly a one and done run), Chateau Marquisat de Binet, and others.
Now, to be clear, the Domaine Roses Camille, Echo Roses Camille, and Clos Lavaud – which are all in Pomerol are made in Domaine Roses Camille winery, the 2022 Winery of the year. The one-off Moulin de la Clide and the lovely Chateau Marquisat de Binet were/are made in those Chateaus. Christophe Bardeau made/makes all the other wines but I named them here for completeness.
Pomerol is a lovely location and the wines of Domaine Roses Camille continue to impress. The Clos Lavaud is a year-in-year-out QPR WINNER along with the Echo Roses Camille. They are both perennially great wines and wines we all are very lucky to have in the kosher wine market! The flagship wine, Domaine Roses Camille has never had a bad year, it is the model of consistency, and the only years it was not made kosher was during the lean years of the kosher wine market in France, 2007 – 2010 (inclusively). It does come in at a higher cost than other kosher Pomerol wines but the high-end quality of Domaine Roses Camille matches the prices and longevity potential of other high-end quality kosher wines that cost much more than the DRC does. Yeah, there, I slipped, we all call the Domaine Roses Camille, our kosher DRC, but yeah, we all know what the real DRC is and that is a different wine region and price, all together!
So, with mad props and great happiness, and hope for even more success, I say Bravo to Christophe Bardeau and Andrew Breskin for all the hard work and lovely wines. The quality of the wines that are here and will be coming, in the future (I tasted many of them over this past week), are impressive and I wish them only continued success!Read the rest of this entry
Another round of QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Hits and Misses, Four USA QPR WINNERS (two more for France)– January 2023
I hope you all had a wonderful Gregorian Calendar New Year! This will be my last post for my blog’s Calendar year. As usual, my QPR posts are a hodgepodge of wines but thankfully we have some nice QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wines.
For all those asking for my yearly Four Gates Winery post – that will have to wait till after my year-end posts. No worry, the sale will end in 14 minutes so get your wines, everyone!!
QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Wines
It has been three 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. Since then, there have been more hits and misses, but overall the 2019 and 2021 vintages look good enough.
My thanks to Ari Cohen for helping me again with some of these wines! The 2007 Chateau Peyrat Fourthon La Demoiselle D’Haut Peyrat, 2013 Porto di Mola Aglianico Roccamonfina, Aglianico, and the 2021 Domaine Bousquet Alavida, Mendoza were all thanks to him!
We have a nice list of QPR WINNERS:
- 2021 Domaine Bousquet Alavida, Mendoza – Fun, cheap, and enjoyable wine! Bravo!
- 2013 Porto di Mola Aglianico Roccamonfina, Aglianico – Maybe this was the first kosher Aglianico ever!
- 2007 Chateau Peyrat Fourthon La Demoiselle D’Haut Peyrat, – this has been popping up all over Paris – DRINK UP!
- 2019 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande de Pomerol — A little too ripe for me but solid, BEWARE there is no 2020
- 2019 Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild – Another solid wine!
- 2020 Netofa Tel Qasser, Red, Galilee – A lovely Rhone-style wine that shows finesse
There were also a few wines that are a slight step behind with a GREAT or GOOD QPR score:
- 2021 Chateau de Cor Bugeaud, Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux (M) – A nice 2021 wine that is mevushal
- 2021 Barkan Chardonnay, Galilee (M) – A good Barkan Classic
- 2019 Gush Etzion Cabernet Franc, Lone Oak Tree, Judean Hills – A solid Cab Franc, with balance and a bit of elegance
- 2022 Rimapere Baron Edmond de Rothschild Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough – A sad shadow of the 21 vintage
- 2021 Pescaja Solei’ Arneis, Terre Alfieri (M) – A nice wine but the acidity is lacking
- 2019 Rocca di Frassinello Le Sughere di Frassinello, Maremma Toscana – Nice enough wine but lacking acidity
- 2021 Bat Shlomo Sauvignon Blanc, Israel – Nice but expensive and simple SB
- 2021 Dalton Sauvignon Blanc, Fume, Galilee – A nice enough SB
- 2021 Eola Hills Wine Cellars Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon – A nice enough New-World Pinot
- 2021 Rothschild Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec, Mendoza – A ripe mess but many will like it
- 2019 Domaine du Castel Raziel, Judean Hills – A solid wine but too expensive
There are a few wines that got a QPR Score of EVEN – meaning expensive or average:
- 2021 Vitkin Pinot Noir, Judean Hills – A simple Pinot Noir
- 2020 Chateau Le Crock, Saint-Estephe (M) – One of those bad years for the Crock, such is life!
- 2020 Netofa Tel Qasser, White, Galilee – It is here because of the price, nice wine but too expensive
- 2021 1848 Winery Cabernet Franc, Judean Hills – A ripe wine that will make some happy
- 2017 Capcanes La Flor Del Flor Samso, Montsant – A ripe but controlled wine that is too expensive
- 2021 Chateau Le Petit Chaban, Bordeaux (M) – A simple enough but pleasant wine
The others are essentially either OK wines that are too expensive, duds, or total failures:
- 2021 Cantina Cignozza il Generoso, Toscana – A poor wine that is also expensive
- 2021 Raziel Rose, Judean Hills – A good enough rose that is crazy expensive
- 2017 Villa Mangiacane Magnificus, Toscana – A Super Tuscan that is oaked and overripe
- 2020 Domaine Du Castel Grand Vin, Judean Hills – An average wine that is far too expensive
- 2019 Flam Noble, Israel – Another Israeli wine that is simple enough but crazy expensive
- 2021 Tzora Shoresh, Blanc, Judean Hills – Another Israeli wine that is too expensive for its quality
Some things that made me stand up and take notice (AKA QPR WINNERS):
In this group, the best wine is the Chateau Royaumont, though this vintage is ripe, and will take a long time to calm down. There is no 2020 Chateau Royaumont, FYI.
The 2020 Netofa Tel Qasser, Red, is a lovely wine and one that will be here for a while.
The 2019 Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc is the mevushal version they sell here in the USA and is quite lovely, with great balance and enough complexity.
The 2021 Domaine Bousquet Alavida, Mendoza is the TRUE WINNER to me, it is available in a few places here in the USA and it is lovely! Throw in the fact that it can be found for 12 dollars here in the USA and BRAVO!
The other two wines, 2013 Porto di Mola Aglianico Roccamonfina, Aglianico, and 2007 Chateau Peyrat Fourthon La Demoiselle D’Haut Peyrat, are in France, popping up here and there in shops, nice wines, drink NOW!
Other wines of note (AKA QPR GREAT or GOOD):
This group is not a group of wines I would buy and some are not even wines I would drink if given the chance. They are Ok wines but there are far better options out there. The two that did surprise me were the 2019 Gush Etzion Cabernet Franc, Lone Oak Tree, and the 2019 Domaine du Castel Raziel, Judean Hills, both were solid wines that I did not expect.
Wines that are either good but too expensive or average (AKA EVEN):
Three wines need a comment here. The 2017 Capcanes La Flor Del Flor Samso, Montsant, finally had a decent vintage, it is a nice wine but I would buy limited to none and drink it soon.
The 2020 Netofa Tel Qasser, White, Galilee is a lovely wine, nothing like the 2017 or 2018 vintages, but the price lands the wine here.
Sadly, the 2020 Chateau Le Crock, Saint-Estephe is just an average wine and that is why it is here.
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):
This round this list is just duds and I will just leave you to peruse the names and scores down below.
Overall another nice list of QPR WINNERS. I can always look at these kinds of lists and say there are only 6 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 6 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!
2019 Chateau Royaumont, Lalande de Pomerol – Score: 92.5 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot & 30 % Cabernet Franc. At the opening, the wine shows its femininity, with lovely floral notes, violet, and ripe fruit, shortly after it shows a far riper expression with an intense perfume of fruit, nice loam, dirt, green notes, eucalyptus, roasted mint, and minerality. This shows you that some wines can be fruity but you can see the reality of the makeup and understand its final place. This contrasts Israeli wines whose nose and mouth are so over the top that it never comes around. With even more time the wine does return to its feminine side with lovely floral notes, still, the ripeness is there and while it is controlled it does worry me, with plum, rich loam, smoke, earth, mint, eucalyptus, and lovely fruit. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe and balanced, yet also lovely and feminine with expressive floral notes, violet, plum, cherry, rich and dense mouthfeel, not extracted yet complex, somewhat layered, mouth-drying tannin, elegant, and complex, nice sweet oak, menthol, more mint, basil, and lovely smoke. The finish is long, dirty, earthy, smoky, and ripe, with more tannin, mineral, scraping graphite, green notes, violet, and leather. BRAVO! Still, the ripeness abounds and takes over the mouth and nose it is scary. Drink from 2024 until 2032. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 15%)
2020 Netofa Tel Qasser, Red, Galilee – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose of this wine is lovely, it starts a bit slow but with some air, the wine opens to show bright fruit, herbs, smoke, roasted meat, tar, blue and red fruit, and a lovely floral bouquet, jasmine, violet, bravo! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe, and controlled, with lovely acidity, ripe boysenberry, juicy strawberry, raspberry, and rich saline, with lovely sweet oak, mouth-draping tannin, and nice minerality, nice! The finish is long, tart, ripe, balanced, and refreshing, with watermelon, root beer, floral notes, and coffee. Drink by 2028. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13.5%)
2019 Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc (M) – Score: 91.5 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot & 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose of this wine starts with lovely notes of ripe red and blue berries followed by rich loam, funk, rich mineral, wet dirt, tar, and green notes/foliage. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is less weighty than the 2018 vintage with lovely notes of smoke, dirt, loam, dark raspberry, currants, blueberry, Elderberries, rich funk, foliage, lovely mouth-coating tannin, a bit too many green notes, and searing acidity. The finish is long, dirty, earthy, and mineral-driven, with lovely smoke, toast, pencil shavings, graphite, more green notes, dark chocolate, and lovely tension. Drink until 2028. (tasted December 2022) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14%)
2021 Domaine Bousquet Alavida, Mendoza – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose of this wine is floral, ripe, balanced, and enjoyable, with violet, rosehip, saline, green notes, dark cherry, raspberry, and smoke. The mouth of this medium-plus bodied wine is very fun, floral, ripe, well balanced, fun, with good mouthfeel, organic and without added sulfites, showing ripe plum, blackberry, raspberry, with nice mouthfeel, great acidity, balanced and fun, with lovely ripe and jammy fruit. The finish is long, ripe, balanced, and good, with smoke, mineral, roasted meat, and more floral notes. Lovely! Drink by 2024. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 14.5%)
2013 Porto di Mola Aglianico Roccamonfina, Aglianico – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER: France)
This wine is crazy, it has almost no fruit on the nose or the body but it has fruit in the structure to keep it alive with rich acidity and a lovely mouthfeel. The nose of this wine is lovely, dirty, earthy, smoky, with lovely barnyard, and rich mushroom, with hints of violet and rose. With time the wine opens to a new world. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ripe, with dark fruit, blackberry, raspberry, smoke, elegance, rich tannin, smoke, mushroom, and lovely tea. The finish is lovely, tannic, and herbal, with lovely barnyard and floral notes, lovely. Drink now!!! (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12%)
2007 Chateau Peyrat Fourthon La Demoiselle D’Haut Peyrat, Haut-Medoc – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER: France)
This wine is 15 years old and it does not evoke happiness in me, sure it is a perfectly good wine, it is not dead, not oxidized, but it has also not evolved. This reminds me of a recent post by my friend, Avi Davidowitz, where he said something I said often to Benyo about the early day Baron Herzog wines, they survive, but they do NOT evolve as time passes. The wine is enjoyable, but I would prefer another option.
The nose of this wine is perfectly balanced, well made, and professional, but also just OK, at this point, showing little to no evolution into tertiary notes, there are mushrooms, and there is no barnyard, but the tertiary is more in the background.
The nose is nice with good mushrooms, nice dirt, earth, with red fruit, and nice smoke. To me, the nose is dominated by dirt and the surprising fruit, and the rest is in the background.
The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is where things become far less interesting, sure the acidity is impressive, and the mouthfeel and tannin cover the palate with the aid of good acidity, but the wine is just there, it has not evolved, the raspberry and cherry are nice, with good minerality, and more rich loam.
If one was, to sum up, this wine, dirt, and mushroom with some fruit would be a solid descriptor. The tannin is devolving. The finish is long, and green, with enough tannin to keep it interesting, with nice mushroom, and graphite. Drink now!!! (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
Over the past month or so I have been posting my wine notes from my trip to Paris in November 2022. The tastings were all done with my buddy Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog. On the last day we were there we had the chance to taste the newly bottled 2021 JP Marchand Burgundies from Taieb Wines. I continue to hope that on our next trip to Paris, Avi and I will once again make our way down to the Lyon, France area. Of course, without the “hotel” memories/baggage of the last trip! That was the eventful evening that led me to state these lines; After that, we made our way to our hotel and called where we slept that night – a hotel, well that is kind of like saying World War II was a mistaken exchange of friendly fire. WOW, that place was super strange on so many levels. Next time we finally get down to the Lyon area, where the Taieb offices are, we will make sure to stay at a normal hotel!
Back to the wines! As I have stated in my many posts so far I am not a huge fan of the 2020 or 2021 vintages so far. I have not had all the 2020 wines and obviously, we have only scratched the surface of the 2021 vintage. These wines did have their moments and some were quite nice but in the end, the 2021 vintage will be a tough go for almost all winemakers.
For the 2021 vintage Taieb once again made Meursault along with seven red Burgundies. There are no 1er or Grand Cru wines this vintage from Jean-Philippe Marchand and Taieb wines. I guess that the 2021 vintage was already so small in size that to have gotten those grapes would have been impossible. The Meursault was exceptional as was the Gevrey-Chambertin, and there were a few other solid wines as well. The main issue was that some of the wines were nice but not complex, sadly, they were scored from what we tasted that night. I attribute this to the 2021 vintage which was a complicated and difficult one for sure.
I want to stress that these wines were NOT tasted blind, in comparison to the other, non-organized wine tastings where all the wines were tasted blind over a couple of days. Sadly, there was just no time for that to happen. However, I will be tasting these wines in a few weeks and I will repost my notes again.
Hopefully, these wines will be brought in by Andrew, at Liquid Kosher, again I hope to taste at least some of these, a second time, 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:
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault, Meursault – Score: 93+ (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is intense, funky, and dirty, with rich salinity, smoke, hay, honeyed melon, toasty oak, hazelnuts, and lemongrass. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is intense, dense, rich, and layered, truly incredible, with layers of acidity, butterscotch, toast, melon, apple, lime, hay/grass, with minerality, flint/slate, with such an unctuous and rich mouthfeel, almost oily, with a weightiness and freshness that is truly incredible. The finish is long, tart, and rich, not as ripe as 2019, but lovely with more lemon/lime Fraiche, flint, rock, saline, and honeyed notes. Lovely! PLEASE, many of you will be motivated to drink this up as it is an awesome wine, but control yourselves please, this wine needs time! Drink until 2029, maybe longer. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Bourgogne, Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, Hautes-Cotes de Nuits – Score: 88 (QPR: POOR)
This wine is evolving, changing with air and time, with more floral notes, showing rosehip, and violet, with roasted herbs, green notes, red fruit, and foliage. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ripe, with dried floral notes, cherry, smoke, earth, mushroom, and smoke, with soft tannins, menthol, and green notes. The finish is long, green, sweet, floral, and herbal, with graphite, and smoke. Bravo! Drink until 2026. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Bourgogne, Hautes-Cotes de Beaune, Hautes-Cotes de Beaune – Score: 91+ (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is lovely, far more restrained than the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, with lovely mushroom, loam, dirt, smoke, red fruit, rich funk, and nice umami. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is lovely, layered, and concentrated, with bracing acidity, lovely salinity, dark cherry, and raspberry fruit, all balanced and wrapped with elegant tannin, more rosehip, lavender, tart notes, and sweet fruit. The finish is long, tart, and balanced, with menthol, roasted herbs, loam, and smoke. Drink by 2028. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Nuits-Saint-George, Aux Herbues, Nuits-Saint-George – Score: 88 (QPR: BAD)
the nose of this wine starts with earthy notes, smoke, and funk, a bit of heat, with lovely cherry, dark raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, coffee, violets, and foliage, with menthol. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ripe, and hot, with ripe fruit, bramble, jammy pomegranate, and cranberry, with more tannin, candied fruit, roasted herb, wrapped in sweet currants, and a dense rich mouthfeel. The finish is ripe, with sweet fruit, more acidity, sweet oak, milk chocolate, sweet licorice, and candied strawberry. Drink by 2030. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Volnay, Sous Luret, Volnay – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose of this wine is far more constrained and controlled with lovely mushrooms, dark cherry, smoked meat, violet, lavender, coffee bean, earth, and mineral. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is truly layered, rich, and smoky, with dark Kirche cherry, currant, dirt, bright scream acidity, with a nice tannin structure, followed by more floral notes, and tart fruit. The finish is long, tart, green, ripe, and smoky, with tart cherry, nice tannin, and floral notes lingering long, with mushroom and loam lingering as well. Nice! Drink by 2030. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Aloxe Corton, Sous Chaillots, Aloxe Corton – Score: 88 (QPR: POOR)
The nose of this wine is funky, with mushrooms, flowers, red fruit, herbal notes, and smoke. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ripe, and floral, with cranberry, cherry, and currants, all wrapped in violets and rosehip, with nice tannin. The finish is long, tart, and candied, with almost pomegranates, and loads of floral notes that are sweet from the candied fruit, mushroom, and earth. Overall, the red fruit, dense floral notes, and acidity are what carry this wine. Drink until 2030. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Pommard, Le Dome, Pommard – Score: 89 (QPR: POOR)
The nose of this wine is oaky, with nice mushrooms, ripe red fruit, herbs, and dirt. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is once again a flower pot with nice red fruit, cherry, and raspberry, not as candied as others, with nice acidity, and tannin. The finish is long, floral, herbal, and fruity, with lavender and smoke. Drink by 2029. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
2021 Jean-Philippe Marchand Gevrey-Chambertin, Gevrey-Chambertin – Score: 93 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose of this wine is balanced with good mushrooms, bright and ripe red fruit, cola, umami, funk, and dirty sock funk, that gives way to soy sauce, and earth. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is ripe, balanced, and nice, with rich salinity, nice tannin structure, lovely dark cherry, ripe strawberry, rich extraction, dense fruit, and mouthfeel, smoked meat, elegant, yet ripe, with a lovely plush and rich mouthfeel, lovely! The finish is long, red, ripe, and extracted with lovely fruit, menthol, garrigue, mushrooms, smoke, and more roasted animal, lovely! Drink by 2031. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
The second organized wine tasting that Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, and I went to, during our last trip to Paris, in November 2022 was with with Menahem Israelievitch in his lovely home.
In June I made my way to Paris and I posted the Royal wines I tasted, they were mostly white, rose, and a few red wines as well. For the past many years, I have been tasting the new releases from Royal wines with Menahem Israelievitch. Two years ago, because of COVID, I tasted the 2018 vintage in my house. Thankfully, those days are over and things have mostly returned to normal.
Vintage-wise, I think 2020 is like a blend of 2016 and 2017. I say that because some of the wines are riper than I like and some are green like we saw in many 2017 wines. You will see here that some of the wines are overripe and some are very green, while others are in between. There are still WINNERS, but they are not as many big-hit WINNERS. Meaning, even the WINNERs are not getting big scores. It is just one of those vintages. I have very little hope for the 2021 vintage and even 2020 is not a vintage I will fully stock up on.
We were spoiled last year with the 2019 vintage for two reasons. First of all, the 2019 vintage was on par, if not a drop better than the 2014 vintage, which had the largest number of 95+ scored wines in a vintage, that was until 2019. 2019 eclipsed the 2014 vintage with higher scores and it had lower prices. No, not lower than the 2014 prices, but lower than the 2018 prices were. Now, the 2020 wines are not as good as the 2019 and they are all higher in price.
The 2014 vintage to me, was crazy fun because it is less ripe than the 2015 or 2016 vintages. They were also FAR cheaper. Then you had the 2015 wines which were more expensive and far riper than the 2014 vintage. This 2016 vintage is the best of both worlds, but it comes at a crazy high price. I warned you at that time, during the epic post of my visit to Bordeaux with Mr. Israelievitch, that you better start saving your money, sadly nothing has changed about that. The REAL shocker price-wise of the 2016 vintage was Chateau Malartic, which rose to almost 150 or more a bottle! That was close to double the 2014 vintage.
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.
NOTE: Mr. Israelievitch did not have the 2019 Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc nor the 2021 Chateau Roubine Rose, Inspire. Such is life! I tasted the Edmond at home and posted it here, sadly I have yet to taste the 2021 Roubine Inspire.
Mevushal Wine Push
The Mevushal push, from Royal wines, is continuing for the USA labels. More wines are being made in a Mevushal manner and while I wonder if this is good overall for myself, it makes sense for Royal wines, which in the end, I guess is what matters to them. Will this be an issue? In the past, I have found that the mevushal work of Mr. Israelievitch is top-notch, and just ages the wine rather than ruining it. Sadly, that trend has been failing in recent years, especially when it involves white and rose wines. More and more the mevushal white and rose wines have shown a huge difference between the two variations, mostly in regards to acidity. I have no idea why the flash affects the acidity but it has been clear to me and the worst/saddest example was the 2019 Gazin Rocquencourt, Blanc. The non-mevushal version is stunning while the mevushal version was not.
So, once again, as I have been doing for YEARS, I will again ask Royal to treat their own, personally made French wines, with the same courtesy that they show Binyamina, Psagot, Capcanes, Shiloh, and others. Why are you OK with importing BOTH the mevushal and non-mevushal versions of wines that are not worthy of the glass they are in but are more than happy to throw a blind eye to wines you personally produce? The French wines deserve better and again, I AM ASKING for you to import BOTH the mevushal and non-mevushal versions as you do for so many other brands.
The Mevushal wines from France for the 2019/2020/2021 vintages will be the
- 2020/2021 Les Marrionniers Chablis, Chablis
- 2020 Les Roches De Yon Figeac (this is the first time for the RYF)
- 2020/2021 Chateau Les Riganes, Bordeaux
- 2020/2021 Chateau Genlaire, Bordeaux Superieur
- 2019/2020 Des Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild Les Lauriers, Montagne Saint-Emilion
- 2019 Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc
- 2019 Chateau Greysac, Medoc
- 2019 Chateau Le Crock, Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux
- 2019/2020 Chateau de Parsac
- 2020/2021 Chateau Les Riganes, Blanc
- 2019/2020 Chateau Mayne Guyon
- 2019 Chateau Tour Seran
Now does mevushal impede the long-term viability of aging in regards to the wine? Well, that too is not something that we have scientific proof on. I have tasted a mevushal 1999 Herzog Special Edition and it was aging beautifully! Same with the Chateau Le Crock, over the past few years. So, would I buy the mevushal versions of the wines I tasted below? The answer is yes! Would I age them? Yes, I would hold them for slightly fewer years. To me personally, it is very clear, if Royal had their way they would make the Pontet Canet Mevushal! Nothing to Royal is sacred and this will not stop with the list above, it will grow, proof is Chevalier and Gazin were made mevushal in 2019. There were rumors that they were going to make the 2020 Pavillon mevushal, thankfully that turned out to be a false alarm, for now.
Other than the mevushal aspect, there are no differences between the European version of the wines and the USA version of the wines. While that sounds obvious, I am just stating it here. The wines will be shipped now and the temperature issues that affected Israel’s wines of old, have not been a factor here.
The 2020 Pricing and access
I posted my 2019 notes, from the tasting we had last year, when most of the wines were already in the USA and pricing was well known. The prices are now known for the 2020 vintages as well and they are higher than the 2019 wines, of course, and they are higher than the 2018 wines as well!
The 2020 Chateau Pontet Canet and the 2020 Chateau Leoville Poyferre will be higher than they have ever been, though probably not as high as the 2020 Château Angelus Carillon de l’Angélus. Chateau Giscour is also going up in price as is the Chateau Malartic Blanc, so yeah, higher!
In terms of access – sure enough, all the Pontet Canet sold-out in one day from Royal and each store is being given tiny allocations. This leaves us begging for wine and paying 300+ a bottle at the door! Classic madness and FOMO. Such is life!
Tasting in Paris
It is always a joy and honor to do our yearly tasting with Menahem Israelievitch. His care, love, and true joy in sharing the wines he creates for Royal Wines, even with folks like us, is a true testament to his professionalism.
My many thanks to Menahem Israelievitch for going out of his way to help me to taste all the current French wines from Royal Wines before they were publicly released. It was truly an inopportune time for Mr. Israelievitch and his family to have the tasting and I truly thank him and his family and wish them only happiness and success in the coming years.
2021 Chateau Roubine Rose, Lion & Dragon, Cotes de Provence – Score: 91 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this rose is classic with strawberry and creme, rich salinity, peach, orange blossom, and lovely smoke. The mouth of this medium-plus-bodied wine is nicer than the previous vintage, the second vintage here is showing better than 2020, and has more balance as well, with good acidity, nice fruit focus, less oak influence, with nice peach, apricot, strawberry, good salinity, nice minerality, and smoke. The finish is long, smoky, tart, and refreshing, with good acidity and salinity, and flint. Nice! Drink now. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
The third organized wine tasting that Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, and I went to, during our last trip to Paris, in November 2022 was with IDS. IDS is officially called Les Vins IDS and IDS, stands for International Distribution Service. On a lovely Wednesday afternoon, Avi and I jumped in an Uber and went to see Ben Uzan at IDS’s offices.
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 for us to taste. Those included two wines, one lovely Riserva from Terra di Seta and a nice enough Chateau Moutinot, Saint-Estephe.
Le Vin IDS Wines
As I stated in my previous Paris trip preamble post, the timing for the trip was not great. So, these wines were the ones I missed in May and this trip was also too early for the 2021 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Burgundies.
There were too few wines to do any of these blindly, as we did in May, with Alexander, but that did not mean there were not lovely wines to enjoy! We started with a very unique 2021 Tokaj-Hetszolo Sarga Muskotaly, Takaji. I will leave the notes to describe it better than words here.
Next, we had the 2021 Tour du Barail Bordeaux Superieur which is a solid wine for the poor 2021 vintage. That was followed by the QPR WINNER 2020 Chateau du Bosquay, which we had the last tasting, but I asked for it as I forgot Avi had already tasted it.
Next came two CRUSHING QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) WINNER wines for those who live in the France area. The 2020 Chateau Labegorce and the 2020 Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe. Both of them were exceptional and for the price, in France, they merit the QPR WINNER standard!
My notes of the 2015 Chateau Labegorce and the 2017 Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe, are not the same as the 2020 Chateau Labegorce and Chateau Lafon-Rochet, but the structures of both them reminded me of those vintages. To me the 2020 vintage is a conundrum, it is not the green 2021 vintage, but it also does not have the precision of the 2019 vintage or the power of the 2015/2018 vintage. The 2017 vintage at times reminds me of the 2020 vintage, with certain wines, while with others the 2020 vintage can be as good as 2019. This will be fully showcased when I do the post of the Royal wines, but for now, understand, that the 2020 vintage will at times leave you breathless and at times leave you wondering.
In the end, the two wines are clear QPR WINNERs in France, and even outside of it they are MUST-HAVE wines for one’s cellar.
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.
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:
2021 Tokaj-Hetszolo Sarga Muskotaly, Tokaji – Score: 91 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is ripe, and tropical, with ripe mango, lychee, guava, tart pineapple, orange blossom, gooseberry, and passion fruit, very unique. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is nice with nice sweet and ripe fruit, more controlled and drier than in the nose, with intense acidity, dry mango, very floral with orange blossom, violet, elderberry, nice honeyed orange, and green notes. The finish is long, green, tart, and fruity, with great acidity, mango, pineapple, and waxy notes.
To be clear this is not a dry wine but it is also not a dessert wine, it fits in between, and it is off-dry. It would accompany dishes in the main meal as well if they are spicy or they are rich like cream sauces. Drink by 2024. (tasted November 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in November, with Avi Davidowitz from Kosher Wine Unfiltered. The sheer number of boxes in our room was insane, somewhere nearly 120 bottles of wine came to our hotel or to Ari Cohen’s home. The poor bellman pushing that cart laden with wine boxes was a site to see.
We were in Paris for a week and during that time Avi and I had three organized tastings with Bokobsa, Royal Wine, and IDS. We also tasted some 80+ wines in the hotel room, blindly, in 5 rounds, each time following the methodology defined below. This post will showcase the wines we had in rounds 1 and 2.
Blind Tasting Methodology
Thankfully, my posts can stop referencing COVID and focus on wine. So, let us get to the process. This time I wanted to break up the normal approach, or taste wines from the distributor or wine producers and instead taste the wines blind in their respective groups. The methodology was simple, bag all the wines, hand them to Avi who wrote a number/letter, and then line them up for the tasting. Then we taste them in numerical/alphabetical order and write the notes. After the first pass, we taste the wines again to see if they have changed. Then we show the wines and write the names down. We did find a few anomalies in the system. First, the more closed wines needed time to open and those were tasted again later. If there were flaws at the start those stayed in the notes, at least for me, and if there were issues after they were also written.
White wines and Sparkling Wines (First Round)
There were a few shockers, in this round, the shockers were all for the bad! Sadly, this round and the subsequent one with simple red wines were underwhelming to deeply disappointing. There were TWO WINNERs in the first TWO rounds and they were repeat WINNERs from previous tastings I had with Avi last year in November 2021 and with Nathan Grandjean in 2017. I have also included a wine I tasted TWICE over the past month or so, the 2016 Yarden Rose, Brut, it is underwhelming, much akin to its brother the 2016 Yarden Blanc de Blancs. Both are underwhelming and very sad as this is the first time that I ever had a Yarden Sparkling wine I did not like on release. Very sad indeed! If you want sparkling wines stick to Drappier, Laurent Perrier, Gilgal, and others.
The other disappointing wine was the highly anticipated 2020 Chateau Olivier Blanc, sadly it did not live up to expectations. At the start it was horrible flat peach juice, if you read my original blind tasting – it went like this, “This wine is cooked peach juice, flat and useless. Drink never.” Literally. The wine evolved over three days! The same thing could be said for the 2020 Chateau Olivier red and the famous 2020 Carillon d’Angelus Saint-Emilion. Though the reds wines were less flat and more closed tightly.
Other than the lone WINNER and the disappointing 2020 Chateau Olivier Blanc, there were no wines that were very interesting at all. There were a few new ones, like the 2020 Les Vins de Vienne Saint-Peray, Les Bialeres, disappointing, and lacked acidity and balance. The 2021 Casa E.di Mirafiore Roero Arneis DOCG was also a dud, both white and red. Overall, nothing very good here, but hey my pain is your gain!
2020 Vintage versus 2021 Vintage in Bordeaux
I will repeat what I wrote previously, as this post will showcase far more 2021 wines from Bordeaux. So far, the sample size of 2021 wines from Bordeaux includes very few big names because they are still in the barrels. Or should be! So, the sample size of 2021 wines from Bordeaux is all simpler and of lower starting quality. Still, what is apparent, from this sample size, is that 2021 will be a very hard year. The 2020 vintage, by contrast, is hit and miss, and so far, while the hits have been solid, there are no home runs, and we have tasted most of the wines we expect to rave about from the 2020 vintage. There will be one 95-scoring wine, ONE, from all the wines we tasted on this trip. I expect even fewer exceptional wines from the 2021 vintage and I personally, will be buying far fewer of the 2020 or 2021 wines. Finally, the wine notes from the 2020 vintage should be witness to the fact that while the 2020 wines are OK to good, they are far more accessible than previous vintages. The glaring exception to that will be highlighted in a subsequent post.Read the rest of this entry