Blind tasting in Paris (Part #1) – Nov 2022
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
Final Tasting from my trip to Paris – May 2022
As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in May, without Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, his lame excuse involved something about marrying off his first child, or something like that, whatever! He was missed but yeah, Mazel Tov!
I kept to my hotel room for much of the trip. All these wines were tasted in my room. Also, as tested before, because of supply chain issues and frankly because there were still too many 2020 wines around, there were very few 2021 wines available for me to buy online or in stores and taste. What I could find, at that time, in May, I bought and I am posting here now.
White & Roses
After tasting roses from Taieb and Royal I had a few more that I found around town. The clear winners here were the 2021 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Cotes de Provence, and the 2021 Chateau Maime Rose, Collection, Cotes de Provence. The 2020 Koenig Riesling is nice and a good rebound for the winery.
Two red wines from Tek Wines
I was sent a few wines from Tek Wine but the two best wines were ones I bought from MesVinCacher, the 2015 Chateau Tour de Bossuet, and the 2015 Chateau La petite Duchesse. The two wines tasted too similar to be different, but try them yourself. The other wines are simple.
Two Israeli wines
As I stated in my IDS Post, Alexandre was in Paris at the same time as I was and he brought along a nice wine from Israel, the 2021 Peer Winery Ayala, another wine with the name Ayala! Anyway, it was nice enough, with good acidity, but a bit short. The other was the 2021 Recanati Sauvignon Blanc, which is too simple to be interesting.
A Magrez wine that works
The 2019 Chateau Pape Clement is the closest thing we have had to a good Magrez wine since the epic 2014 vintage. The wine is nice but the oak and fruit are overpowering and while I liked it to start after a bit of time it felt a bit flabby and oak-driven.
Various Bordeaux Wines
This group had too many poor wines, the nice surprise was a wine from the Ministers of Wine, the 2018 Chateau des Places, Graves. There was also, a non-mevushal Victor 2019 Chateau Guimberteau Graves de Laborde, Cuvee Prestige, Lalande de Pomerol. The rest, were poor.
One Italian Wine
The Aglianico that I had in paris really did not show well and I hope to taste it again soon, maybe here in the USA. But I have posted it here as a baseline.
Thoughts on this tasting
Overall, none of these wines are available in the USA, other than a couple of the roses. The rest will maybe get to the USA eventually or never. If they do get to the USA, by the time you throw in the extra costs, they will not be QPR WINNER.
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2020 Koenig Riesling, Alsace (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
After the mess that was the Pinot Blanc, I was worried the Riesling would also be oxidized, thankfully, that is not the case! The nose of this wine is what I love in lovely Riesling wines, minerality, fruit, honeysuckle, honeyed yellow fruit, and nice petrol. The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is fun, bright, tart, and refreshing, with great intense acidity, gooseberry, honeysuckle, honeydew melon, petrol, funk, tart yellow fruit, and lovely green apple, Nice!!! The finish is long, tart, and refreshing, showing tension, intense minerality, slate, smoke, flint, petrol, crazy acidity, and good fruit focus. Bravo! Drink until 2023. (tasted May 2022) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12%)
My top 25 kosher wines of 2021, 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 was scored a 92 or higher. Also, there are a few lower-scoring wines here because of their uniqueness or really good QPR.
We are returning with the “wine of the year”, “best wine of the year” along with “Winery of the Year”, and “Best White wine of the year”, along with a new one – “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 personally 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 this will be the first year where we do it.
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 me spending my money on. So, no I have not tasted as many Israeli wines as I have in the past, but overall, this is the largest number, for me. 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.
IMHO, this past year brought the best wines I have seen in a long time.
IMHO, this past year brought the best wines I have seen in a long time. No, I do not just mean, the lovely 2019 Chateau Pontet Canet, but overall, the scores garnered this year are on keel with my top wines of 2017, which included the best wines from 2014 and 2015 vintages. Nothing has come close since that list, until this past year – so that really excites me as there are still a few wines from the 2019 vintage that I have yet to taste.
As I will talk about in my year in review post, 2014 will come out as the best vintage for the past decade in France. That is a hotly debated subject, but IMHO, in the world of kosher wine, there were FAR more best wine options in the 2014 vintage than any other vintage in the past decade. That may not be the case for non-kosher wines, but news flash, I do not drink non-kosher wines, or even taste them, and further this blog is about kosher wines. The 2018 vintage may well have some serious “best wine of the year” candidates, but sadly, not all of those wines are here and I could not travel to France to taste them all, as I do commonly. The 2019 vintage may have as many once we taste them all, but for now, the 2014 vintage across all wine producers has created a far more complete and consistent product than any of the years, up until 2019.
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. Thankfully, the task of culling the bounty of great wines to come to these top wines was more a task of removing than adding. We are blessed with a bounty of good wines – similar to 2017. To highlight the last point, I scored 109 wines with a 92 or higher, and 66 of those were given the QPR score of WINNER (or WINNER in FRANCE).
The supreme bounty comes from the fact that Royal released the 2019 French 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, still. Thankfully, we have some awesome new entries, from the 2019 Chateau Malartic and the 2019 Château Gazin Rocquencourt (NON-Mevushal), and the new 2020 Meursault!
The wines on the list this year are all available here in the USA, 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 2021 kosher wine of the year – is new!
This is a new wine for the kosher wine market and it sits a bit above where I would like it, price-wise, but it is the best wine for a price that is still comfortable for the value. It is one of the rare wines that score a GREAT QPR – when priced above 100 dollars. Still, it fits right there to make it GREAT. There were so many to choose from this year – I am so happy to restate, but in the end, this award goes to a reasonably priced wine that garnered the highest score. The 2014 and 2015 Domain Roses Camille was an option, but the price pushed out of the competition. There was the 2017 Elvi Clos Mesorah, at a far better price than the LaGrange, but again, the LaGrange fit right in that space, barely above the Clos (quality-wise), and within the range of QPR. There was the 2018 Malartic and the 2017 Leoville, but they, like the DRC, were priced out. Finally, there was the 2019 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru, Les Vallerots, but that wine is almost impossible to find, sadly!
If there was a single QPR WINNER that blew me away – it would be the 2012 Château Cru Ducasse – in France, I can see no reason not to buy as much of this as humanly possible! Either way – the new Chateau LaGrange is a wonderful wine and one that is worthy of the 2021 wine of the year!
2019 Chateau LaGrange Grand Cru Classe En 1855, Saint-Julien – Score: 94+ (QPR: GREAT)
WOW, what wine for a 12.5% ABV wine, come on, the next time someone says I need to wait for the phenolics to talk with me, the answer is this wine! This wine is a blend of 80% cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, & 2% Petit Verdot.
The nose on this wine is lovely and perfumed with rich minerality, dense loam, graphite, smoke, roasted animal, clay, black and red fruit, all wrapped in more dirt, tar, and licorice, wow!
The mouth on this medium-plus bodied wine is beautiful, the acid is perfect, balanced and tart, elegant and layered, with lovely raspberry, plum, dark currants, hints of blue fruit, with ripe cassis, scraping mineral, dirt, loam, roasted herbs, menthol, with sweet vanilla, and lovely licorice.
The finish is long, with draping tannin, scraping mineral, and lovely tar, loam, nice leather, and rich garrigue, really lovely! Drink from 2031 until 2042. (tasted November 2021) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 12.5%)
Paris tasting with Shlomo Corcos (Guter Wein) – June 2021
As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in June, and while it took forever to post these notes, I am happy to finally be getting to them at this point. I must start by thanking Shlomo Corcos (Guter Wein) and Yoel Kassabi from YayinKosher. They were so kind to host me and allow me to taste the lovely wines. I was also joined by Ari Cohen.
So, returning to the trip, as stated in my previous post, I kept to my hotel room for much of the trip. Even vaccinated, I was worried, and am still worried, as such I kept to myself, where possible. However, Messrs Corcos and Kassabi were super busy the entire week and the only time they had was a lovely Friday morning, so we met to taste through the wines then. Corcos has been the mashgiach behind many wines, including Falesco and some IDS wines, along with his own Guter Wein wines.
It was a short tasting, but there were some interesting and unique wines. Including a lovely and very unique 2013 Falesco Innocence, Blanco, a wine I would love to drink every day, sadly, it is not available here in the USA. All of the wines I tasted are available on Mr. Kassabi website YayinKosher. We also tasted the incredible QPR WINNER, for France, of 2012 Plaisir de Siaurac – which sells for 12 euros! Sure, it is a drink now wine, but how often can you get a lovely QPR WINNER, aged to perfection, ready to drink, and dirty/filthy as all-get-out! Just lovely and crazy great price!
There were also three very unique Bulgarian wines. Along with another lovely Italian Verdeto. Along with a few new Bordeaux wines that we did not get the chance to taste the last time we had a tasting with Messrs Corcos and Kassabi. The 2016 Chateau Saint Eugene Martillac, QPR WINNER 2016 Chateau Haut-Bacalan, and the lovely 2018 Chateau Kirwan Grand Cru Classe.
In regards to whether these wines will be available in the USA, I suppose that would matter on import and other such issues. For now, they are all in France/Europe.
My many thanks to Messrs Corcos and Kassabi for setting up the meeting, sharing the wines with us, and for taking time out of their incredibly busy schedule to meet with us. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2013 Falesco Innocence, Blanco, Umbria – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
This is a blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Semillon. The nose on this wine is lovely with sweet oak, crazy funk, rich straw, hay, and lovely smoke, with fresh bright apple, quince, and mineral, wow! The mouth of this medium-bodied wine is lovely, rich, layered, ripe, but acidic, with great fruit focus, showing funk, mineral, saline, earth, dirt, sweet melon, apple, quince, and crazy funk, wow! The finish is lovely, bright, tart, with lemon/lime, smoke, graphite, hay, and sweet spices. WOW!!! Drink until 2024. WOW! (tasted June 2021)
Paris tasting of mostly Royal 2019 and 2020 Whites and Roses, with some Reds as well
Well, I can honestly say I never meant it to get this out of hand, I was meant to post this months ago! But, life, shul, and so much more, got in the way. All good, just wine, and my blog had to be put on the back-burner for a bit. Thankfully, I am ready to post more often now.
So, we return to the story, I landed in Paris, and bought lots of wines, and then had lunch with Ari Cohen and Simon Berdugo. I will get to the many wines I bought in the next few posts, God willing.
But let us start with the roses and whites I enjoyed in the company of Menahem Israelievitch. These wines are almost all here, except for the two reds that will get here eventually. My guess is that just like all shipping around the world is waiting on boats, maybe these wines are also being held up behind millions of iPhones, laptops. and Elmo toys. Please, do your Chanukkah shopping NOW, the supply of many items will be very limited in the next few months.
At the tasting, we enjoyed many lovely wines, and you can read the notes below, I want to point out a few thoughts on them.
- The high-end Chateau Roubine wines tasted FAR better and different in France – like VERY different! All I can say is that the score represents what I had in France, and I noted that the wines here taste different..
- The 2019 vintage is showing nicely for some parts of France and less so for others, time will tell how well it shows.
- Finally, the 2019 Chateau Malartic, Blanc is simply one of the best, if not the best white wine I have ever tasted, again, all I drink or taste is kosher. It is shockingly wonderful. Yes, there are the beautiful 2014 Von Hovel Auction Rieslings, I did not forget them, and they may well outlive the Malartic, who knows, but this wine is special!
In closing, all of these wines will get here eventually. I cannot say that for the vast majority of wines I will be posting over the next weeks. So many wines made in France either live and die in France and Europe, as a whole, or are made JUST for Israel. These new phenomena started with Shaked, and others have joined in. Either way, lots of French wine is not sold in France and lots of French wine never leaves the country – just the fascinating life of French wine. Most of it is made by very small producers or ones with horrible distribution, and as such, they are very difficult to find. Thankfully, as I stated all of these wines and many of Bokobsa wines, a post coming soon, should be available in the USA.
My thanks to Menahem Israelievitch and Royal Wines for hosting me and letting us taste the wonderful wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2019 Les Marrioners Petit Chablis (M) – Score: 90 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose on this wine is nice, tart, with floral notes of apple blossom, quince, mineral, slate, hay, straw, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, with great acidity, nice fruit focus, and a life to it that is quite refreshing. The mouth shows apple, quince, pear, hints of melon, blossom, orange pith, nectarines, and nice flint. The finish is long, green, with lemongrass, flint, and smoke, with acidity lingering long. Bravo!! Drink until 2023. (tasted June 2021)
2019 Les Marrionniers Chablis (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose on this wine is quite nice with a rich focus that brings incredible minerality, rich saline, fruit that is more white and yellow with a clear precision that makes me smile. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich, layered, and focused, with deep acidity and saline that brings the mouth together incredibly well, followed by rich apple, quince, peach, and mineral galore, the mouthfeel is oily and rich and really incredibly refreshing and also quite elegant, nice! The finish is super long, tart, green, with lemongrass, saline, slate, rock, and smoke, with grapefruit, lemon, and citrus galore. Bravo! Drink until 2024. (tasted June 2021)
Tasting of Royal Wine’s 2018 and some 2019 French wines in California
Well, it is official, 2020 continues to take, and though my annoyances are minor in comparison to the pain others are feeling, it still has impacted my routine, which I guess is the story of 2020. For the past three years, I have been tasting Royal’s latest wines with the man in France for Royal, Menahem Israelievitch. Sadly, this year, no matter how much I planned and tried, it is a no go. So, for the first time, in a long time, the tasting will be here in Cali and it will only be a small part of the 2018 and 2019 wines, such is life.
So, no there will not be a picture with all the wines, and some of the wines from last year are still not here right now! But, I will post here what I did taste so far, and my overall feeling of the 2018 and 2019 vintages.
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.
While the 2015 and 2016 vintages were ripe, and the 2017 vintage was not ripe at all, the 2018 vintage makes the 2015 ripeness look tame! Now that is a very broad-stroke statement that cannot be used uniformly, but for the most part, go with it!
I see no reason to repeat what Decanter did – so please read this and I will repeat a few highlights below.
For a start, the drought came later in 2018,’ says Marchal, pointing out that early July saw less rain in 2016. ‘But when it came in 2018, it was more abrupt, with the green growth stopping across the whole region at pretty much the same time’. He sees it closer to 2009, but with more density to the fruit. … and high alcohols!
Alcohols will be highest on cooler soils that needed a long time to ripen, so the Côtes, the Satellites, and the cooler parts of St-Emilion have alcohols at 14.5-15%abv and more. I heard of one Cabernet Franc coming in at 16.5%abv, but that is an exception. In earlier-ripening areas, such as Pessac-Léognan and Pomerol, alcohols are likely to be more balanced at 13.5% or 14%abv, as they will have reached full phenolic ripeness earlier.
‘Pessac-Léognan did the best perhaps because it’s an early ripening site,’ said Marie-Laurence Porte of Enosens, ‘so they were able to get grapes in before over-concentration. If you had to wait for phenolic ripeness, that is where things could get difficult’.
The final averages per grape, according to Fabien Faget of Enosens, are Sauvignon Blanc 13.5%abv, Sémillon 12.5%abv, Merlot 14.5%abv, and Cabernet Sauvignon 14%abv’.
The Mevushal push, from Royal wines, is continuing for the USA labels, a fact I wonder about more and more. Look, if you are going to force Mevushal wine down our throats, why not import BOTH? If you look at the numbers for wines like we will taste in the post, the majority of the buyers are not restaurants or caterers. Sorry! No matter how much Royal Wines wants to fool itself into thinking. Throw in COVID and FORGET about this INSANITY, please! I beg of you!
There is no denying that it affects the wine, it does. I have tasted the Chateau Le Crock side by side, the Mevushal, and non-Mevushal and while I feel that Royal does a good job with the boiling, it is still affected. If you want to have Mevushal wines in the USA, then bring them BOTH in! Royal does this for Capcanes Peraj Petita and the undrinkable Edom and others in Israel. So what Royal is saying is – that could not sell the Chateau Le Crock numbers that they import into the USA without boiling it? Why else would they feel forced to boil it and import it if not otherwise? To me, it makes me sad, and in a way, it disrespects what Royal is trying to do to its French wine portfolio, IMHO. They should, at minimum, import both! Allow for the caterers and restaurants (like anyone needs that nowadays – HUH???) to have the Mevushal version and sell the non-mevushal version to us, as you do with Edom and Petita. There I have stated my peace, I am 100% sure I will be ignored – but I have tried!
The Mevushal wines from France for the 2018/2019 vintage will be, the 2018 Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc, 2018 Chateau Greysac, 2018 Chateau Chateau de Parsac, 2018 Les Lauriers, Des Domaines Edmond de Rothschild, 2018 Chateau Le Crock, 2019 Chateau Les Riganes, Red, 2018 Chateau Genlaire, along with the whites wines, the 2019 Bourgogne Les Truffieres, Chardonnay, the 2019 Les Marronniers, Chablis, and the 2019 Chateau Les Riganes, Blanc.
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 of. I have tasted a mevushal 1999 Herzog Special Edition and it was aging beautifully! So, would I buy the mevushal versions of the wines I tasted below – yes! Would I age them? Yes, I would hold them for slightly fewer years.
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 “other” wines not here yet or I have not had
There is the just-released 2018 Château Cantenac Brown Margaux (will post that when I get it), along with these yet unreleased wines. The 2019 Chateau Gazin Blanc (2018 was/is INCREDIBLE), 2018 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, 2018 Château Meyney Saint Estèphe, 2018 Chateau Giscours, 2018 Chateau Lascombes, 2018 Chatyeau Tertre, and 2018 Chateau Royaumont.
I understand this is a sub-optimal situation and blog post. It does not cover Royal’s 2018/2019 European wine portfolio. Still, it covers what has been released (or very close to it), here in the USA, and hopefully, it will help you. One day soon, I hope and pray, things will return to some semblance of normalcy, and we will all travel around again. Until then, this is the best I can do. Stay safe!
Final comments, disclaimer, and warnings
First, there are a TON of QPR winners but there are also a LOT of good wines that I will be buying. Please NOTE vintages. The 20016 Haut Condissas is a disaster while the 2017 vintage is fantastic! So, please be careful!
These wines are widely available in the USA, so support your local wine stores folks – they need your help! If you live in a wine-drinking desert, like California, support the online/shipping folks on the side of this blog. They are folks I buy from (as always – I NEVER get a bonus/kickback for your purchases – NOT MY STYLE)!
Sadly, there was no plane trip, no hotels, no restaurants, nothing. So, no trip to talk about – just the wines and my lovely home! Stay safe all and here are the wines I have had so far. I have also posted many scores of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 wines which are still for sale here in the USA. My many thanks to Royal Wine for their help in procuring some of these wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
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.
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.
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
Tasting of Royal’s 2016 French wines in France
As I stated recently in my original post about my most recent trip to Israel, the reds of Israel are really not impressive, but thankfully I ended my trip by going to France to meet with Menahem Israelievitch and taste through all of Royal’s new 2016 and 2017 wines from France in Paris.
2016 Royal Europe French wines
Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to taste many of these wines from the barrel at each of the wineries in Bordeaux. Now, the 2015 wines were a bit more akin to the barrel notes when I tasted through the 2015 wines last year in Paris, but the 2015 wines were already in barrel for a year. However, since the trip was in 2016, the 2016 wines were barely finished fermenting and most had yet to even go through malo, but man even then it was easy to tell that the 2016 vintage was going to be something very special.
The 2014 vintage to me, was crazy fun because it is less ripe than the 2015 or 2016 vintages. They are also FAR cheaper. Then you had the 2015 wines which are 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 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 of the 2016 vintage will be the Chateau Malartic wine, get ready to see that at 170 or more a bottle! That will be close to double the 2014 vintage.
In a previous post about the most recent French wines 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.
Also, the 2015 vintage may have been ripe to many, but the 2016 right bank wines are even riper. That appears in the right bank because of the Merlot that was super ripe in 2016, but other wines with lots of Merlot also show that way, even on the left bank.
The interesting change this year for these wines is that more of them will be coming to the USA in Mevushal format. Will that be an issue? In the past, I have found that the mevushal work of Mr. Israelievitch is top-notch, and really just ages the wine rather than ruining it.
The Mevushal wines from France for the 2016 vintage will be, the 2016 Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc, 2017 Chateau Mayne Guyon, 2016 Chateau Greysac, 2016 Chateau 2016 Chateau de Parsac, 2016 Les Lauriers, Des Domaines Edmond de Rothschild, along with the two whites wines, the 2017 Bourgogne Les Truffieres, Chardonnay and the 2017 Les Marronniers, Chablis.
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! So, would I buy the mevushal versions of the wines I tasted below – absolutely! Would I age them? Yes, I would hold them for slightly fewer years. The only wine listed below that will be mevushal in the USA and that is NOT mevushal in France is the 2016 Chateau Le Crock. I will post my notes on the mevushal version when it is released here in the USA, they are currently selling the 2015 Chateau Le Crock, so that needs to sell out before the 2016 vintage is released.
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 clearly affected Israel’s wines of old, have not been a factor here.
Tasting in Paris
I landed in Paris, got showered and the such, and then made my way to lunch with Menahem Israelievitch. After lunch, we went to a lovely home to do the tasting. The wines were all laid out in the order for the tasting, and one by one we went through the 29 wines. The only wine missing wines were the 2016 Les Lauriers, Des Domaines Edmond de Rothschild and the 2016 Chateau Greysac.
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. The labels on the pictures may not all have a kosher symbol, but that was because they rushed some of the bottles to Mr. Israelievitch before they were properly labeled with supervision symbols attached. My many thanks to Mr. Israelievitch, Royal Europe, and Royal Wines for making this tasting possible in the first place, and secondly, for making the time to taste the wines with me.
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2017 Ramon Cardova Albarino, Rias Baixas – Score: 91
Lovely nose of rich mineral, with loads of straw, with which salinity, and lovely peach and dry apricot, with honeysuckle, lemongrass, with green notes galore. Lovely! The mouth on this lovely green and acid-driven wine, showing rich salinity, green olives, with lovely dry quince, green apples, but also with lovely lime and grapefruit, with a bit of sweet fruit of guava and rich acid that comes at you in layers. The finish is long and green, with gooseberry, passion fruit, and lovely round and tart with freshness and orange pith, and incredible acidity lingering long. Drink until 2021.
Interesting note on this wine, there is a thermosensitive logo on the label that shows ONLY when the wine is at the correct temperature, on the bottom right-hand corner of the front white label. This is a lovely wine and one that is worth the effort to enjoy at the correct temp. Cool!
2017 Chateau Lacaussade Saint Martin, Vignes Vignes – Score: 90
The wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is very slow to open, it may need a quick decanting, for an hour or so. The nose is slightly tropical in nature with lovely with melon, guava, and hints of passion fruit to start, over time it recedes to show lemongrass, straw, mineral, grapefruit, citrus, and honeysuckle notes. Just like the nose the mouth also starts off with crazy tropical notes that also recede with time, to show a very different wine. After some time, the mouth on this wine is not complex, but very nice, with rich acidity, showing a good balance of fruit, green apple, heather, tart pear, and mineral. The finish is long, super long, with southern tea, and rich acidity, and lovely pith. Drink until 2021. Read the rest of this entry