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The Top 24 QPR Kosher Wine WINNERS of 2022

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:

  1. 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%)
  2. 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%)
  3. 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.

The Summary

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.

Of course, the first wine on the list is the 2022 Wine of the year! Elvi Wines is a perennial producer of QPR WINNER wines and a most deserving winner of the 2021 Winery of the year!

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%)

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IDS tasting of current releases in Paris – Nov 2022

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.

Tasting

The tasting was a two-part wine event. The first part featured IDS wines while the second part featured wines that Ben Sitruk of Wine Symphony brought 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.

Tasting

As is customary, I ask Ben to open the windows to air out the room, as soon as I enter, as the smell of tobacco ash is always insufferable. I understand France is one of the few advanced nations in the world where smoking is still a thing. I have never tolerated it, the smell makes me retch, so Ben is always so kind to air out the room before we begin tasting his wonderful wines.

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%)

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Les Vins IDS continues to truly impress, with the new 2017 Chateau Lafon Rochet and more

The day after the Bokobsa tasting, and following the tasting of the Corcos wines, Ari, Eli, and I went to lunch, to pick up wines and eat lunch. The lunch was uninspiring, but the store/restaurant gave us a chance to pick up many wines I have been dying to taste, as they are extremely hard to find almost anywhere in the world, but that will have to wait till after this IDS post.

Following lunch, we made our way to IDS’ offices and Ben Uzan was there with his wines, minus the current Burgundies from Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter, that I had already tasted with Ralph.

Complete Les Vins IDS wine lineup 2

Les Vins IDS

IDS, as we know it is officially called Les Vins IDS and IDS, stands for International Distribution Service. IDS does not control a large number of wineries, but the amount that they do control, are some of the most vaunted kosher French wines around! The granddaddy would be the epic, Smith Haut Lafitte! I have tasted almost all of the kosher vintages, 1995 and 2000 were brought in by Royal, with the 1995 vintage being made by Bokobsa. 2002 and 2009 – was never quite clear to me (wink wink) who officially imported those wines to the USA. The 2014 vintage is now being imported to the USA by M & M Importers. The only one of that list I have yet to taste is the 1995 vintage. I actually did “taste” it, but sadly it was corked.

IDS also makes the kosher runs at the fantastic Chateau Lafon Rochet, which has been made kosher so far in 2001, 2003, and 2010, and again in 2017. I have, thankfully, tasted them all, besides the 2017 vintage until this tasting, and to me, the 2010 vintage is in a league of its own.

IDS also controls the relationship with Chateau Valandraud, to me maybe the most vaunted Grand Cru in the Saint-Émilion appellation. No, it is not Angelus or Cheval Blanc, but it is a very big win for the kosher wine drinking public. As an example, here were the top 10 wineries for the 2014 vintage, of the Grand Vin from the Saint Emilion wineries, scored by Decanter.

Sadly, the last kosher Grand Vin made from Valandraud was in 2005, and what a wine it is! Since then, they have made the second label of Chateau Valandraud kosher, the Virginie de Valandraud ( a 2nd label for the vaunted winery, that was started in non-kosher in 1992). This wine has been made kosher in 2004, 2011, and 2015. I have not tasted the 2004 Virginie, but I have tasted the 2011 and 2015, and it is a consistently impressive wine, but a bit richly priced, which is what you get when you talk about Valandraud.

Finally, there is Chateau Labegorce, a wine that used to be a killer QPR wine when it was first released. Now, the price here in the USA is a bit elevated, but the 2015 vintage is quite the winner, IMHO! There have been two wines from this winery, the Labegorce ‘Zede’ and the Labegorce Margaux, both are Margaux wines, with the Zede winery closing in 2008. Its fruit was merged into the Labegorce Margaux in 2008.

IDS has made other wines, but they have not produced more vintages, like the Chateau Matras (2002 and 2004) and Chateau L’Hermitage (which both closed down), and Chateau Rauzan – Gassies (which was too small to continue with). Chateau Haut Condissas, and the rest of the Rollan de By wines, was originally made by IDS, but after 2005, it went under the control of Rollan de By, which also was made by IDS until 2003.

Essentially, after the 2005 vintages, IDS now fully controls six wineries, La Tour de By, Leydet-Valentin, Valandraud, Labegorce, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Lafon Rochet. 

On top of those six wineries IDS has started making some rose and sparkling wines. They made sparkling wine in the past, from Lilian Renoir, I never tasted it. But now they have made a new Brut and Rose Champagne from Janisson & Fils. Also, they make a lovely rose, Chateau Sainte Marguerite Rose, the best rose of the year for me, last year, though it is steeply-priced.

There are also two new Bordeaux wines coming that will be announced later this year.

Complete Les Vins IDS wine lineup - back labels

The Tasting

After lunch, we found our way to Ben Uzan’s offices, and we were ready to taste the lineup. Mr. Uzan was very kind to share all of the current wines in Les Vins IDS’ portfolio, other than the two Champagne and the 2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Burgundies.

I was really looking forward to tasting the lower level IDS wines that never make it to the USA, as the pricing would not work there, but wines that work beautifully in France, price-wise. The rose was still showing its minerality, though sadly the acidity that I loved so much had fallen off. I also wanted to taste a few of the higher-end wines that had not yet made it to the USA, like the new 2017 Chateau Lafon Rochet. It was a joy and honor to taste the epic 2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte again, it is so young and yet so wonderful!

We also, hijacked the offices to taste other wines, which I will NOT post here, but ones I will post in a subsequent post after this one. Mr. Uzan was beyond kind and his hospitality and openness with our questions showed the grace that I love from his wines. I was again joined by a few of the French forum members, including Ari Cohen, Ben Sitruk, and Elie Dayan. Read the rest of this entry

My top 25 kosher wines of 2018 including wine of the year and best wine 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 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

Four new French wines from IDS here in the USA

The year in regards to French wines has been nothing short of epic! 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.

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, more on that in a subsequent post soon. As has Red Garden (two of their wines is posted here as well, as I tasted them at the same time), as has 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).

So, who is importing IDS now? That would be M & M Importers. I must say that IDS does not control a large number of wineries, but the amount they do control, are some of the most vaunted kosher French wines around! The granddaddy would be the epic, Smith Haut Lafitte! I have tasted almost all of the kosher vintages, 1995 and 2000 were brought in by Royal, with the 1995 vintage being made by Bokobsa. 2002 and 2009 – was never quite clear to me (wink wink). The 2014 vintage was brought in by M & M Importers. The only one of that list I have yet to taste is the 1995 vintage. I actually did “taste” it, but sadly it was corked.

IDS also makes the kosher runs at the fantastic Chateau Lafon Rochet, which has been made kosher so far in 2001, 2003, and 2010, and again in 2017. I have tasted them all, besides the 2017 vintage of course, and to me, the 2010 vintage is in a league of its own.

IDS also controls the relationship with Chateau Valandraud, to me maybe the most vaunted Grand Cru in the Saint-Émilion appellation. No, it is not Angelus or Cheval Blanc, but it is a very big win for the kosher wine drinking public. As an example, here were the top 10 wineries for the 2014 vintage, of the Grand Vin from the Saint Emilion wineries, scored by Decanter.

Sadly, the last kosher Grand Vin made from Valandraud was in 2005, and what a wine it is! Since then, they have made the second label of Chateau Valandraud kosher, the Virginie de Valandraud ( a 2nd label for the vaunted winery, that was started in non-kosher in 1992). This wine has been made kosher in 2004, 2011, and 2015. I have not tasted the 2004 Virginie, but I have tasted the 2011 and 2015, and it is a consistently impressive wine, but a bit richly priced, which is what you get when you talk about Valandraud.

Finally, there is Chateau Labegorce, a wine that used to be a killer QPR wine when it was first released. Now, the price here in the USA is a bit elevated, but the 2015 vintage is quite the winner, IMHO! There have been two wines from this winery, the Labegorce ‘Zede’ and the Labegorce Margaux, both are Margaux wines, with the Zede winery closing in 2008. Its fruit was merged into the Labegorce Margaux in 2008.

IDS has made other wines, but they have not produced more vintages, like the Chateau Matras (2002 and 2004), Chateau L’Hermitage, and Chateau Rauzan – Gassies, and others. Chateau Haut Condissas was originally made by IDS, but after 2005, it went under the control of Rollan de By, that also was made by IDS until 2003.

Essentially, after the 2005 vintages, IDS now fully controls four wineries, Valandraud, Labegorce, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Lafon Rochet. The rest has stopped being produced or is handled by Royal and others. Read the rest of this entry

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