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 was scored a 93 or higher. Also, there are a few lower scoring wines here because of their uniqueness or really good QPR. I also included some of the best wines I tasted this year – they are at the bottom.
We are returning with the “wine of the year”, and “best wine of the year”. Wine of the year will go 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. This year, it is one of the QPR Kings of 2018. Yes, last year, we had a single QPR King, this year, there are a few. Why? Because as I will discuss in my year in review, 2018 was about having more solid wines than having GREAT wines. Sure there is a clear Best wine of the year, which is revealed below, but 2018 will be remembered for having MANY very enjoyable wines, rather than a few GREAt wines.
Also, yes, the Wine of the year and the Best wine of the year, both made by Royal wines, such is life, and I could care less for the most part.
Again, the list is missing wines I have yet to taste, like the 2015/2016 Chateau Pape Clement, which I am sure would have been on this list if I had tasted them. 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 – blame that on the poor crop or rose wines overall, they did not even crack the interesting list. Also, this year, we were given a bounty of top wines and finding the list this year was really a task of removing then adding.
The supreme bounty comes from the fact that Royal released the 2015 and 2016 French Grand Vin wines a bit early! Throw in the incredible number of kosher European wines that are coming to the USA and being sold in Europe and this was truly a year of bounty for European kosher wines.
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. Thankfully, we had Domaine Netofa and Yaccov Oryah Wines to come to the rescue. On top of that, we had another EPIC year for 2016 Herzog Chardonnay, Reserve, Russian River. This year, quite deservedly, it cracked the top 25 wines of the year! The new Chablis is also nice, but the winner in the “very close” section has to be the 2016 Koenig Riesling – Bravo guys!
Some of these wines are available in the USA, some only in Europe, and a few only available in Israel.
Finally, some of these wines are hard to find and they may have different siblings – but they are worth the effort. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
The 2018 kosher wine of the year – we have a TIE!
This one was a NOT a no-brainer to me this year. It was really hard. I wanted to give it to the 2016 Chateau Larcis Jaumat, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, straight up, but it is already sold out, between me and Gabriel Geller, we sold that wine out in no time. So, instead, we will share the winner with the almost impossible to find, aforementioned Larcis Jaumat, along with another from Europe, the 2015 Cantina Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, which is also QPR superstar as well! Congratulations to Cantina Terra di Seta and Royal Wines, and to Chateau Larcis Jaumat, along with an elevated nod of the chapeau to Menahem Israelievitch for finding and curating this wonderful QPR winery tucked into a corner of Saint-Emilion! Bravo!
2016 Chateau Larcis Jaumat, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: 92 (Crazy QPR)
This wine starts off open and then closes so tight like an oil drum, this thing is nuts. The wine is made of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, a classic right bank wine from Saint-Emilion. The nose on this wine is really bright, ripe, and intense, with rich intensity, mushroom, earth, but so much redolence, the nose is far more open than the mouth, showing rich blackberry, dark plum, and rich vanilla, followed by herb, mint, rosemary, and green notes galore. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is crazy rich, it does at times remind me of Benyo’s Merlots with a fair amount of blackcurrant thrown in, which is never found on Benyo wines, but the mad acid, rich mouthfeel, closed tight fruit structure has me reminded often of a Four Gates wine, with intense notes, they scream because of the acid, that gives way to rich tannin structure that is searing and yet inviting, with rich cranberry, cherry, and crazy earth, that will give way to mushroom and forest floor with time. The finish is long, really long, lingering, and intense, with gripping tannin, acid, tobacco galore, mounds of blackcurrant, vanilla, herb, foliage, and green notes, that give way to a gripping mouthfeel that will crush anything, with tar, menthol, and more earth. OMG, this Benyo in France! Wow!! Drink from 2021 to 2030.
2015 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico – Score: 92
The nose on this wine is ripe, at first, the wine starts off with heat, but that blows off, but it is also well balanced, with lovely earth, mineral, dirt, with dark cherry, coffee, and lovely dark fruit. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is beautiful, complex, well layered, with rich concentration, nice extraction, all balanced and plush, with rich blackberry, currant, lovely mouth draping tannin, with lovely foliage, and some nice earthy and fruit bite. With time, it shows its ripeness, but also intense minerality, saline, graphite galore, and lovely tannin structure. The finish is long, green, and ripe but balanced, with lovely acid, great texture, that gives way to more coffee, graphite, scarping mineral, and light almond bitterness on the long finish. Bravo!! Drink 2019 to 2023.
The 2018 best kosher wine of the year!
This one was really tough. First of all, the one I chose is not available yet for purchase in the USA. Also, in terms of score, it did not beat out the 2016 Chateau Giscours, 2016 Chateau Lascombes, 2016 Chateau Du Tertre, Margaux, 2016 Chateau Montviel, or 2014 Chateau Tour Seran, Medoc (NOT Mevushal), or the 2014 Chateau Cantenac Brown, which I somehow missed from last year’s top wines. In the end – for its sheer awesomeness it beat out a very crowded field. In the end, the winner of the BEST kosher wine of 2018 goes to the 2016 Chateau Malartic, and it deserves the crown – bravo!!
2016 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere, Pessac-Leognan, Grand Cru Classe – Score: 94
The 2016 Malartic-Lagraviere is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot (at least in the non-kosher version). Wow, the nose is really ripe, not what I expect from a Malartic, but still lovely, with chocolate, black fruit, earth, and lovely hints of umami, with sweet oak, earth, and sweet blue fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, layered, and concentrated with nice control, expressive, with blackberry, blueberry, and what a change, Malartic with blueberry! Showing more raspberry, earth, and rich fruit, with a truly incredible plushness, that gives way to a rich mouth coating tannin that drapes and lifts the mouth, showing a precision, and an incredible professional touch, with plush fruit, loam, and lovely saline. The finish is long, and plush, with more blue, green, and red fruit, with leather, and power that belies its youth, a wine that will push long into its life, with tannin, licorice, and graphite/mineral that lingers long, Bravo!! Drink from 2025 until 2035. Read the rest of this entry
Two new wines that M&M is importing, 2016 Chateau Haut Brisson and 2016 Chateau Tour Saint Christophe
The French wines keep coming! From crazy 2014 wines that started the reboot of a full line of Royal wines from France, to the 2015 and 2016 vintages from Royal that essentially completed the full reboot of Royal’s French wine lineup. To the new 2016 and 2017 wines from Royal that have a couple of new wines and more of the existing Chateaus.
With that said, shockingly, not all French wines are marketed through Royal or its friends (Taieb, Bokobsa, Rivière, and Rollan de by). Kosherwine.com has also brought in some French wines. As has Red Garden, and the Rashbi wines, which shockingly is NOT predominately French, Andrew Breskin and Liquid Kosher, which brings in the DRC wines, and Victor Wines (maybe the first to bring in French wines outside of Royal of course). As well as the Megrez wines which are now being brought in by International Kosher Wine.
UPDATED: I wanted to point out a very interesting fact about these new wines, they are made by Vignobles K, Peter Kwok’s wineries. NO! The K is not for kosher, it is for Kwok. He is an Asian mogul who made his billions in China and now owns these wineries, and he is always growing his Bordeaux property list. I mistakenly said that IDS had made these wines, but actually they were made by Cedev, a wine producer based out of Belgium.
The interesting point though is that of his original 5 current wineries under his portfolio (he recently added 3 more), three have kosher versions. The two aforementioned Chateau Tour Saint Christophe and the Chateau Haut Brisson, both in 2014 and 2016, along with the 2014 Chateau LaPatche, which I tasted last year. The other two Chateau in his portfolio, are equally or better respected, and both are located in Pomerol, like Chateau LaPatche. Chateau Enclose Tourmaline and Enclos de Viaud. Recently he added, Château Le Rey, Château Tourans, and most recently Château Bellefront-Belcier in Saint Emilion.
Mr. Kwok started his Chateau buying binge in 1997, with the purchase of Chateau Haut-Brisson, and after that, he as upgraded and bought more wineries. Maybe we can hope for more kosher wines from his portfolio, or maybe it is all just a nice coincidence. Sadly, Cedev has not made any more kosher Vignobles K’s wines, after the 2016 vintage. M&M is helping in distributing the wines that they have made. In the end, as of now, there have only been 5 Vignobles K wines made kosher, the 2014 and 2016 Chateau Tour Saint Christophe and the Chateau Haut Brisson, along with the 2014 Chateau LaPatche.
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2016 Chateau Haut Brisson – Score: 92
This wine is made by Vignobles K, Peter Kwok’s properties. The Non-kosher bottling is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc and it shows akin to that with clear Merlot leanings, and pepper/foliage from the Cabernet Franc.
What a crazy nose, ripe, yet well controlled, with rich earth, terroir, with ripe black fruit, bushels of red fruit, and interestingly some blueberry/boysenberry as well, followed by mushroom, white pepper, and well-tilled earth. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is young, absurdly young, with beautiful layers of ripe but perfectly controlled and juicy cherry, raspberry, dark plum, and blackberry, all wrapped in incredible fruit structure, with mouth coating and puckering tannin, that gives way to rich foliage, more forest floor, and mineral. Nice! The finish is long, green, with butterscotch, hints of real butter, followed by almonds, tobacco, rich dark/milk chocolate, and mint. Bravo!! Drink from 2022 till 2032.
2016 Chateau Tour Saint Christophe – Score: 93
This wine is made by Vignobles K, Peter Kwok’s properties. The Non-kosher bottling is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc and again it shows akin to that with clear Merlot leanings, and even more pepper/foliage from the Cabernet Franc, but also more bulk from the Franc as well. This wine has ZERO blue fruit on it, it is all red with hints of black, but primarily it is smoke, tar, with lovely pepper notes, followed by herb/mint, with rich salinity, mineral, and balance. The mouth on this medium-plus bodied wine shows rich elegance, more controlled than the Haut-Brisson, less power, more finesse, with more of that dirt, earth, and juicy red fruit, showing well with an incredible fruit structure and supple mouth coating tannin, that envelopes sweet and juicy raspberry, dark cherry, blackberry, and green notes take center stage. The finish is long, green, and elegant, with tobacco, rich leather, heather, followed by graphite, tilled earth, hints of mushroom, and all the things that bring a smile to my face. Bravo!!! Drink from 2021 till 2033.
As you can tell, I am finally getting to posting on my blog again. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to taste through Kosherwine.com‘s new French wine imports.
Look, I get it, most people do not care who imported what, they want to know what wine is available where. All, I am adding here is that these wines are kosherwine.com’s work and effort to import them.
A few of these names (like Louis Blanc) were imported in the past by either Victor Wines, out of Hollywood, FL, or others. To most, the only difference will be the change of the name on the back of the wine label.
I enjoyed the range of wines brought in, and I really enjoyed that many of them are reasonably priced, even if they are not crazy wines. Also, I liked the magnum sized wine they brought in, allowing for enjoying a casual dinner with friends and family, without needing to be pretentious and snooty, at the same time!
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2014 Louis Blanc Beaujolais, Moulin-A-Vent – Score: 88
This wine is made from 100% Gamay. The wine shows a nice nose of earth, red fruit, spice, and rich loam, with some good smoke. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice, light in weight, but with good acid and lovely sweet tannin, that is backed by good herb, menthol, foliage, and floral notes. The finish is nice with coffee, earth, red fruit, and spice. Drink till 2019
2015 Louis Blanc Beaujolais, Julienas – Score: 89
This wine is made from 100% Gamay. This is the next level in terms of Gamay, with really good bright fruit, red raspberry, currant, with smoke, loam, and great fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is fuller in the mouth than the Moulin-A-Vent, with ripe red fruit, raspberry, black plum, and good nice tannin structure, with nice sweet strawberry, and crazy floral notes. The finish is long and sweet, with good fruit, tannin, and rich earth. Nice. Drink till 2020. Read the rest of this entry