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%)
As stated in my previous post, I was in Paris in November, with Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, 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 Yoni Taieb and the rest of Taieb wines for sending the wines to us to taste. In the past, I have made my way to Taieb’s office, once by myself and once with Avi Davidowitz from Kosher Wine Unfiltered.
As stated, in my previous post, we kept to my hotel room for much of the trip. Even vaccinated, I was worried, and am still worried, as such we kept to ourselves, where possible. Still, we were ready to take the train down to the offices, but things could not line up and so Mr. Taieb was very kind, to once again, send the wines to our hotel. We then stayed in the hotel room and tasted through them.
As always, you can get these wines and much more from Taieb’s online website. They ship within Europe and to London. Sadly, they are all sold out of the incredible 2019 Burgundies that I enjoyed tasting at Andrew Breskin’s house. Andrew has some of them still for sale, like the lovely 2017 Domaine Chantal Lescure and the 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand wines – lovely!! Get them while they last!
Tasting in the hotel room
The most hilarious part of our trip was life in the hotel. Everything in Paris is masked and distanced. We had cases, upon cases of wines coming to us at the hotel, differently than last time, as this time, they all came to the hotel. Still, we thankfully had loads of room as we had the top floor suite and the space was ridiculous.
In the end, it was a wonderful outcome, short of not seeing the Taiebs, again. We had time to taste the wines at our pace, room for all the wines to sit and breathe. As stated, we missed hanging out with Mr. Taieb, and I hope he and his lovely family are doing well!
NOTE: A few of the wines seemed to be a bit off, the 2019 Pavillon du Vieux Chantre, 2019 Domaine de Grava, and 2019 Château De L’Anglais. I will not post my notes here as I need to taste them again when I go back to France or if I can get them here in the USA. There were a few Champagne as well, but none of them stood out enough for me to post them here. Finally, we have very few photos of these, apologies.
QPR WINNING Wine Distributor
Since the first time I was lucky to sit down and taste through the Taieb Wine portfolio, I kept commenting to Yoni, how there were so many good QPR wines, for those that live within Europe and London, and even a few for the USA as well! Now, how does this happen? Well, let us talk about Taieb’s wine portfolio. They have an exclusive relationship with Laurent Perrier for producing kosher Champagne, and that is great. While they do not make wines like Chateau Smith Haut Lafite, Chateau Malartic, or Chateau Leoville Poyferre, they do produce and distribute wines, within Europe that are of very high quality at reasonable prices, AKA, QPR WINNERS.
Let us continue with the fact that Taieb makes some of the very best Burgundy wines on the market and has been doing so for more than 10 years now! However, those wines, while wonderful, are not as much QPR as they quality/score stars! In Bordeaux, Taieb has gone a different route by consistently producing wines, within Bordeaux, that punch well above their weight and many that shock you for the price they are selling at. They may not top out at 95 in scores, like Domaine Chantal Lescure, Domaine D’Ardhuy (almost), or J.P. Marchand, but they do choose the wineries they work with inside of Bordeaux, incredibly well, to create QPR WINNERS at a very impressive rate!
In the end, that is what differentiates Taieb from the other Kosher wine producers. Sure, Royal Wines does a great job with QPR while also having the quality superstars that are hard to fit in the QPR bucket. In my last tasting with Bokobsa, they showed high quality and good prices, in France, for a fair number of wines. Still, when I think of QPR options, within Europe, I think of Taieb’s portfolio! I am consistently shocked at why the folks in London do not buy Taieb wines by the cases – given the wonderful prices, the easy shipping, and the favorable exchange rate. The real Achilles Heel of Taieb Wines, IMHO, is the lack of great distribution and equally solid pricing in the USA.
Until then, you can follow what I wrote up in this post, and try to piece together some of these wines in the USA, if you can! Thankfully, we have Andrew, at Liquid Kosher, helping to drive Burgundy excellence in the USA, and most recently bringing in some of the better Bordeaux wines, as well. Further, three of these wines, posted below, are QPR WINNER, even in the USA. We need more of this!!!
Again, the theme of very solid Taieb wines being very hard to find in the USA is a consistent issue to me. Thankfully, some of these wines are being brought in by Andrew, at Liquid Kosher, so I hope to taste at least some of these again in the USA soon.
My many thanks to Yoni Taieb and all at Moise Taieb Wines & Spirits for taking the time to send me the wines to my hotel. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2020 Baron David, Bordeaux (M) – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER (France))
The nose on this wine shows very much like previous vintages, with good clean lines, green notes, red fruit, herb, forest floor, foliage, and loam. The mouth of this medium-plus wine is tannic, balanced, acidic, and green, with herbal notes, foliage, bell pepper, raspberry, dark cherry, roasted mint, basil, and tarragon, with a backbone that is based in fruit and acid and nice minerality. The finish is long, green, tannic, with scraping minerality, graphite, clay, and nice loam. Nice!! Drink until 2024. (tasted November 2021) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 14%)
The first organized wine tastings that Avi Davidowitz, from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog, and I went to, during our last trip to Paris, in November 2021 was with IDS. IDS is officially called Les Vins IDS and IDS, stands for International Distribution Service. On a lovely Monday morning, Avi and I jumped in an Uber and made our way to go see Ben Uzan at IDS’s offices.
As stated, Avi and I made our way to the offices, and there laid out on the table were nine Domaine Aegerter wines from the 2020 vintage, along with one bottle of 2020 Chateau du Bosquay, Bordeaux Superieur, a perennial QPR WINNER for France. Sadly, with the economics of French kosher wine, it would not be worth importing it to the USA, but that is a discussion for another post.
In 2018 there were no Premier Cru from Domaine Aegerter, in 2019 there was one Premier Cru and a Grand Cru! In 2020, they made 4 Premier Cru, but no Grand Cru, as there was simply not enough fruit to go around. The 2020 vintage report for Burgundy was not as sad as previous vintages, or 20201, which was a disaster. There were few stories of frost destroying vine buds, except for in Chablis, but even that was not horrible. Overall, 2020 was a hot and dry season in Burgundy. There were some losses from the high heat but overall, it looked to be another successful vintage.
Nine wines from Burgundy is quite an impressive lineup, add in that they are from the same vintage, and wow, that is a lot of labels for one year. There is one Meursault and 8 red Burgundies, really impressive.
Throughout the tasting, I could not help but sense that the red wines felt overly acidic, like VA. VA (Volatile Acidity) is a common aspect of wines. It is defined as a flaw but many find it adds to the wine’s acidic profile. As stated in the Wine Spectator:
In small measures—most wines have less than 400 mg/L of acetic acid; the human threshold for detecting it is about 600 to 900 mg/L—volatile acidity imparts a racy, balsamic edge to a wine. It’s also likely to be present anytime you see “high-toned” fruit flavors in a tasting note. It can offer a tangy edge that works well with dishes that could use a little oomph, say pasta with red sauces. It stretches the flavors, and some vintners encourage a touch of VA to do just that. (WS, 2017)
Overall, the wines showed differently than in previous vintages, which is of course common. They were richly floral, again common for Burgundy. The clear winner of the tasting was the incredible Meursault, which showed very differently than the 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault. The 2019 Jean-Philippe Marchand Meursault is riper and shows more of the oak influence while the 2020 Domaine Aegerter Meursault is more refined, at this time, and shows more mineral and control, overall. Just lovely!
We also tasted the 2018 Chateau Trianon, a wine I tasted with Ari Cohen in June, also at the IDS office, and the lovely 2020 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Symphonie Blanc, Cotes de Provence. My notes for them are identical to what I wrote in June. IDS will be distributing the kosher Chateau Trianon wines in Europe. Until now, the kosher wines were only available from the winery. Now, they should have a better distribution within Europe, I hope, as they are lovely wines indeed.
My many thanks to Ben Uzan for setting up the meeting, sharing his wines with us, and for taking time out of his 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:
2020 Domaine Aegerter Meursault, Meursault – Score: 94 (QPR: GOOD)
The nose on this wine is pure funk, almonds, walnuts, peach, nectarines, orange blossom, honeysuckle, rich floral notes, straw, mineral, spice, and rich oolong tea. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is bombastic, wow, unique, special, just wow! The screaming acid, hay, straw, jasmine, white flower, with yellow plum, green apple, Asian pear, with rich saline, mineral, smoke, straw, and rich flint, WOW! The mouth is dense, oily, structured, and just lovely! The finish is long, green, hay, earth, smoke, lemongrass, with a plushness, oily, sweet oak, intense cloves, and rich green notes, wow! Drink from 2025 until 2032. (tasted November 2021)
So, 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. Sadly, last year, because of COVID I tasted the 2018 vintage in my house. Thankfully, Paris was open in November, and I returned to taste more wines.
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.
While the 2015 and 2016 vintages were ripe, the 2017 vintage was not ripe at all, with the 2018 vintage making the 2015 ripeness look tame! Well, I am happy to say that the 2019 vintage is far more in control, less heat is obvious, though it showed up in a few wines below. Now that is a very broad-stroke statement that cannot be used uniformly, for the most part, go with it! Thankfully, the 2019 vintage will be priced slightly lower than 2018, overall, more on that below.
The Mevushal push, from Royal wines, is continuing for the USA labels. More wines are being made Mevushal 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.
The Mevushal wines from France for the 2018/2019/2020 vintages will be the
- 2020 Les Marrionniers Chablis, Chablis
- 2020 Chateau Les Riganes, Bordeaux
- 2020 Chateau Genlaire, Bordeaux Superieur
- 2018 Des Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild Les Lauriers, Montagne Saint-Emilion
- 2019 Des Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild Les Lauriers, Montagne Saint-Emilion
- 2018 Barons Edmond & Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc
- 2019 Chateau Greysac, Medoc
- 2019 Chevalier de Lascombes, Margaux – YES this is new for 2019 – OH! How exciting (note by sarcasm!!!)
- 2019 Chateau Le Crock, Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux
- 2018/2019 Chateau de Parsac
- 2019 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt, Blanc, Grand Vin – YES this is new for 2019 – OH! How exciting (note by sarcasm!!!)
- 2019 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt, Red, Grand Vin – YES this is new for 2019 – OH! How exciting (note by sarcasm!!!)
- 2018/2020 Chateau Les Riganes, Blanc
- 2017/2019 Chateau Mayne Guyon
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!
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 2019 Pricing and access
When the 2019 wines were released “En primeur” the date was late May 2020. The world, at that time, knew nothing about COVID other than it was killing thousands and questions were all we had. Still, wineries in Bordeaux decided to plow on and the first of the virtual tastings took place on May 28th, 2020 – from Chateau Pontet Canet! This was the non-kosher tasting but at that moment when wines were shipped the world over, wineries decided to lower prices! Remember, we had been raising prices year over year, 2014 to 2015, to 2016, to 2018, it was time to reset. The pandemic allowed for that. Thankfully, and sadly, the world has slowly come back from the brink of death, and now, the 2020 vintage, which has the “En primeur“, in Bordeaux, June 2021, raised prices – so yeah, the 2020 Chateau Pontet Canet is more expensive than the 2019 vintage.
On top of that, the 2019 Chateau Pontet Canet is going to be impossible to buy. I have asked why certain wines in the past were not made more often or the such? Like why do we have Leoville every 2 or more years? Why can it not be more like Giscours? The answer I have received, from many at Royal is that folks still fear what happened during the last recession of 2007/2008. They had made too much of Leoville and Pontet Canet, in a short period, and well, sadly it sat. I get it, who wants to stare at walls of wine they cannot sell?
My issue with that is – well that was more than 15 years ago guys! Maybe a better way to say it is to channel Dorthy – Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Do we believe that another 100 cases would not sell?? The Malartic white is almost sold out! Malartic white! A wine no one thought they could sell 10 years ago. The world of the kosher wine consumer has moved in leaps and bounds – to continue to think like it is still 2008 is to belittle us and deny many what they want – more Pontet Canet! I will get off my soapbox, but it is truly time to stop with the kneejerk mindset. Like no 2019 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, why? Look at the famous 2014 Chateau Montviel story! It sold out in a week. Why? Because there was so little made. Again, the kosher consumer has moved past the days of old – I think it is time for Royal to do the same.
I understand that when Pontet Canet started up, again, with a new run of kosher wine, they created a separate sub-winery for the production. Further, they replicated the process, the varietal blend, and overall physical impact. The physical impact does define the total potential output, but it is time to start to grow the market. The market can and should support large output, especially in the trophy wine space, you can always control the output by skipping a vintage, in the end, Giscours and Leoville have proven it is doable, and I hope that Royal will continue to feel comfortable and grow Pontet and Leoville as we progress down the road.
Still, as always, we are indebted to the work of Menahem Israelievitch and Royal Wines for producing so many wonderful wines, even if they are in low supply. The 2019 Chateau Pontet Canet is a very different wine than the 2003 or the 2004 Chateau Pontet Canet. First of all, the system used to make those wines, back then, have changed drastically in the past 10 years, at the Chateau. Everything is now over the top, in regards to everything there. All production is done by hand and that adds to the cost. To me, the wine is also very different, stylistically, gone is the powerhouse, what we have now is a refined masterpiece. It may shock some people, and that is good, but to me, it is a classically styled and built wine for the future, and the best wines I have tasted this year, so far anyway.
Tasting in Paris
I landed in Paris, the day before this tasting and I met up with Avi Davidowitz from the Kosher Wine Unfiltered blog. It was a true joy to hang out with Mr. Davidowitz for a few days. It was so nice of him to fly from Israel to join me in the tastings. We also tasted over 70 wines – outside of the planned tastings. We thankfully had a great hotel room and it gave us loads of space to hang out and taste through those wines.
We had the chance to taste both the Mevushal and the non-Mevushal versions of two wines, side-by-side. Those were the 2019 Chevalier de Lascombes and the 2019 Chateau Le Crock. I missed the Chevalier de Lascombes but I got the Chateau La Crock. In my defense, both of the Chevalier de Lascombes are ripe, and differentiating the ripe from the riper was not obvious, but hey, I missed it!
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 taking the time to taste the wines with me.
2019 Domaine Ternynck Bourgogne, Les Truffieres, Burgundy (M) – Score: 87 (QPR: BAD)
The nose on this wine is ripe apple, pear, melon, a bit of citrus, and spice. The mouth on this wine is nice but lacks the acidity to make it come together well, with melon, pear, mineral, and spice. The finish is a bit short with hints of nectarine, orange, mango, and sweet mint. Drink now. (tasted November 2021) (in Paris, France) (ABV = 13%)
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 Ari Cohen, yet again, because all the wines tasted here, other than the wines from Elvi, were managed by Ari. The total number of boxes in my hotel room, still makes me laugh!
Moises Cohen from Elvi Wines sent me the Elvi wines tasted below while the rest of the wines either I or Ari bought.
As I 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. Almost all the wines below were tasted alone in my room other than the last few wines which were tasted at IDS’ offices.
Magrez wines continue to be a horrible mess
Besides the 2017 Chateau Fombrauge, Blanc, which was an oxidized disaster, I also tasted five more Magrez wines and they all continue to be a shadow of what the 2014 vintage was for this winery. Truly unfortunate for all of us kosher wine drinkers.
Memorias del Rambam
These were also not very impressive. I had them over a few days and they never turned the corner. They stayed very much a ripe ball of oak and fruit, classic parker style. The Yunikko was interesting, without the oak overpowering the wine, it has potential, but it also never came together.
I got the chance to enjoy the 2016 Elvi Wines Herenza Reserva and it is quite a joy. It should be coming to the USA soon, definitely a wine worth stocking up on!
Languedoc & Savoie Wines
Overall not a bad batch of wines though there is a clear WINNER in the 2019 Château de Marmorières Les Amandiers, La Clape, Languedoc. WOW!! if that was available in the USA, for that price, I would drink it every week!! Much like the Maison Sarela White, I enjoyed in Paris as well. The 2020 Jean Perrier & Fils Pure, Savoie was nice, much better than the Blanc which was not useful!
Overall, IMHO, the 2019 Château de Marmorières Les Amandiers, La Clape, Languedoc is such a WINNER it is a shame it is not here in the USA. Again, I understand import prices, extra layers of costs, so I doubt it makes sense here in the USA. But, for all of those in Paris/Europe – BUY IT!
Various Bordeaux Wines
This group was a total loser, other than the Cru Ducasse family of wines and the two Taieb wines. The two Taieb wines were nice and documented here. The rest were a total mess.
The 2012 Château Cru Ducasse, Haut Médoc and the 2012 Chateau Moutinot, Saint-Estephe are two more WINENRS and they were incredible! The price and the quality – WOW! The 2012 Château Cru Ducasse was imported into the USA a long time ago and then it disappeared. It is available in Paris/Europe – BUY IT!! WOW!!
Wines enjoyed at IDS’ Office
Ari gathered all the wines we tasted that day and Ben Uzman from Les Vins IDS shared a bottle of the 2020 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee Symphonie Blanc, Cotes de Provence. That is a lovely wine, a bit expensive, but a lovely wine indeed!
Besides the lovely Vermentino, we had the complete set of kosher Chateau Trianon that is for sale, at this time. The early 2017 vintage – the petite was not very good. However, the 2018 and 2019 vintages were lovely!
Thoughts on this tasting
Overall, these wines were unimpressive, but wow did we find some real sleepers! The 2019 Château de Marmorières Les Amandiers is a no-brainer for those in France/Europe. The Elvi is coming here soon, and the Trianon while lovely, is not yet been imported, and when it does, I doubt the price will stay near where it is today to stay a WINNER.
Overall, many great WINNER wines will stay in Europe or may come here to the USA but will not be WINNERs here. Still, again, for those in Europe/UK – enjoy! Thanks again to Ari and IDS for their help!
2016 Chateau Tour Blanche, Medoc – Score: 80 (QPR: BAD)
The nose on this wine is flat as is the mouth, it is not a fruit bomb, it is just boring. The nose on this wine shows black and red fruit, a bit of dirt, heat, and loam. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is flat, it has no acid, it is lifeless, and not interesting. Next! Drink now. (tasted June 2021)
2016 Chateau La Tour Carnet, Grand Cru Classe en 1855, Haut-Medoc – Score: 89.5 (QPR: POOR)
This wine is far less fruity than the 2015 vintage, showing notes of deep loam, fresh dirt, sweet oak, sweet dill, milk chocolate, nice green notes, foliage, smoke, anise, tar, and ripe fruit, interesting. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is ripe, but controlled, with proper acidity, elegance, layers of big bold blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, with lovely mouth-draping tannin, dark chocolate, rich saline, lovely graphite, all wrapped in a rich plush mouthfeel, dense yet balanced with sweet oak, sweet tobacco, and nice mineral. The finish is long, sweet, balanced, with green notes, bell pepper, foliage, leather, rich earth, and lovely clean fruit on the long finish. Drink from 2024 until 2030. (tasted June 2021)
2016 Chateau Fombrauge, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – Score: 86 (QPR: BAD)
This wine, much like the Tour Blanche, is empty, it is not unbalanced or a fruit bomb, rather it is none of the above and free of anything that will grab my attention. The nose on this wine is red and black, with green notes, sweet oak, and anise. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is empty, free of acidity, life, or fruit, it has a bit but all I get is oak, sweet fruit, and smoke. The finish is long, with mouth-draping tannin, sweet fruit, leather, and more sweet oak on the long finish. Drink by 2027 (tasted June 2021)
2017 Chateau La Tour Carnet Grand Cru Classe en 1855, Haut-Medoc – Score: 85 (QPR: POOR)
WOW, I am confused the 2015 vintage was overripe, the 2016 vintage was balanced, now the 2017 vintage is lifeless with hints of ripe fruit in the far background, like what??? The nose on this wine is empty, hints of ripe black fruit, overripe blue fruit, sweet oak, sweet dill, and not much else. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is ripe, with mouth-draping tannin, and not much else, blackberry, raspberry, all trying to cover up the glaring hole in the middle, with not enough acid to get this all around. The finish is a bit short, with more milk chocolate, smoke, green notes, and leather. Drink until 2027. (tasted June 2021)
2017 Chateau Magrez la Peyre, Saint-Estephe – Score: 83 (QPR: BAD)
Another Magrez and another wine without any life, I guess 2017 Magrez = empty lifeless wines. The nose on this wine is ripe, unbalanced, and empty, again, with notes of milk chocolate, sweet oak, ripe black fruit, a bit of earth, and that is it. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is empty, it has nice mouth-draping tannin, it has no holes, but it has no acid, and it lacks life, the fruit is nowhere, with a bit of blackberry, raspberry, and green notes. The finish is long, green, red, and ripe, with milk chocolate, leather, sweet spices, more oak, and good mineral. Drink until 2027. (tasted 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 Clarisse and Lionel Bokobsa of Sieva/Bokobsa Wines. They were so kind to host me and allow me to taste through the lovely wines. I was also joined by Mr Henri Molko, sales manager at Sieva, and Benjamin Kukurudz.
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, Clarisse was so nice to setup the tasting so on a bright summer morning, I made my way to the Sieva offices, just outside of Paris.
The last time I was at a Bokobsa tasting, it was at the very early days on this insane life we now live, February, 2020. Of course, until June, 2021, no one from the United States was allowed access to France. Bokobsa, like Royal did not have a tasting in 2021. So, I was really happy to catch up with what new wines were available and to see the offices of Sieva, as I only ever see the Bokobsa family at KFWE or their own tastings.
The pricing of these wines are mostly cheaper in France than they are here in the USA, as such, some of them of the wines have better QPR scores in France. Also, many of these wines will not come to the USA, but overall I was impressed by the quality of the wines and how some of them have really improved from the first time I tasted them in 2019.
My thanks to Clarisse and Lionel Bokobsa and the rest of the Sieva/Bokobsa team for hosting me and letting us taste the wonderful wines. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2019 Jean Pierre Bailly Pouilly Fume – Score: 92 (QPR: EVEN (In France: WINNER))
Another smash hit for this lovely wine, showing notes of sweet fruit, lovely orange blossom, with good fruit focus, gooseberry, melon, grapefruit, and flint galore. The mouth on this lovely medium-bodied is truly fresh, ripe, and well balanced with screaming acid, smoke, flint, gooseberry, melon, grapefruit, orange, orange blossom, and lovely screaming acid, wow! Lovely weight and mouthfeel. The finish is long, green, ripe, and well balanced, with crazy mineral, screaming acid, and lovely rock, flint, and mineral. WOW!! Drink until 2024. (tasted June 2021)
An epic tasting of M & M Importers latest imports – QPR WINNERS and the best Kosher Pinots on the market
I was in NYC for a few days and I had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Ralph Madeb, president and CEO of M & M Importers, one of M’s in M & M (I just think Ralph secretly loved M&Ms as a child, but hey). I was joined by GG, Yed, and Avi Davidowitz of Kosher Wine Unfiltered. It was a wonderful tasting that had no duds, just hit after hit, and truly a unique experience, IMHO, as we are finally seeing the power of kosher wine in Italy. Of course, we have been blessed with fantastic wine from terra di Seta for more than a decade now, but our Italian experience has been limited to Chianti. There are other options but they rarely impress me. There was the epic 2010 Barolo and Barbera d’Alba from Florenza, but sadly that was a one-time run (there was more made in 2011 but it never came to the USA).
There were many more wines than just Italian, the gamut included Provence Rose from IDS, followed by Falesco’s new Ferentano, one of the very few wineries that make a varietal wine from Roscetto, followed by IDS 2018 Clos des d’Argent, which is showing well now! Then came the mind-blowing 2019 Pinot Noirs from IDS 2019 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru, Les Vallerots, and the 2019 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Corton-Vergennes, Grand Cru. There was supposed to also have been a Meursault to match JP Marchand’s 2019 Meursault, but sadly they ran out of fruit. The 1er Cru is on par with the best of the JP Marchand and Lescure, but the Grand Cru takes kosher Pinot Noir to a very new level, one that I am blown away by and I hope this continues!
The lineup then moved back to Italy with 2019 Terre Alfiere Tuke Nebbiolo, a crazy good QPR WINNER. Followed by another QPR WINNER, the 2018 Irpinia Aglianico. This is what Aglianico should taste like! A beautifully controlled tannic beast with nice fruit, tannin, and incredible floral aromas – BRAVO! The rest of the wines after that were wines I knew, and have written about in the past, so I took no notes. They included the 2005 Valendraud, a monster of a wine but one that is at its peak and is good to go. Following that was the IDS 2018 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Gevrey-Chambertin and the 2018 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Pommard. Followed by the epic IDS 2015 Virginie de Valendraud and a yet unreleased 2018 Virginie de Valendraud. Then came the IDS 2015 Chateau Labegorce Marguax and the IDS 2017 Chateau Lafon Rochet! Two epic wines that I love! It was finished with the two lovely 2014 and 2015 Von Hovel Rieslings, the Haute Oberemmel and the Saar Riesling, and the crazy QPR WINNER 2019 Pescaja Terre Alfieri Arneis Solei. Thanks to Avi for taking all the pictures!
There was no wine below 90 and there was my first ever 95+ score since I turned to score with numbers. To say it clearly, the lunch was epic, the wines were epic, and to have the ability to hang out like the times of old, with friends and great wine was a day to remember! My sincerest thanks to Ralph and his partner at M & M Importers for sharing their wonderful wines with us all! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2020 Chateau Sainte Marguerite, Cuvee Fantastique Rose – Score: 91 (QPR: EVEN)
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, and 10% Rolle (AKA Vermentino). The nose on this wine is lovely with great notes with peach, mineral, grapefruit, lovely apricot, lemongrass, and green note. The mouth is lovely, acidic, refreshing, with good acidity, nice fruit focus, with a lovely mouthful, showing classic strawberry, raspberry, lemon/lime, more peach, mineral madness, and rich salinity, wow! Lovely! The finish is long, with flint, rock, saline, lemon, tart pink grapefruit, and lemongrass, lovely! Adding in the white wine helped. Drink now. (tasted April 2021)
2020 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Rose – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, and 10% Rolle (AKA Vermentino). The nose on this wine is quite nice, with minerality, lovely strawberry, raspberry, peach, lemon, grapefruit, peach blossom, and lemon blossom. The mouth is correct, enough acid, mineral galore, smoke, flint, and nice fruit focus, but missing in the middle. The finish is long, floral, with flint, green notes, and red fruit, nice! Drink now. (tasted April 2021)
2018 Famiglia Cotarella (AKA Falesco) Ferentano – Score: 93 (QPR: EVEN)
This is Incredible, the nose is lovely with great and unique floral notes, Jasmine, white flowers, beeswax, with intense mineral, vanilla, sweet oak, pineapple, hints of banana, lemon, peach, and green notes. The mouth on this full-bodied wine is rich, layered, and extracted, with nice tannin, lovely acidity, great mineral, flint, peach, lemongrass, pineapple, sweet oak, Asian pear, with a lovely viscous body, rich and beautiful, sweet vanilla, grapefruit, honeysuckle, and honeyed quince, just lovely! The finish is long, green, with tannin, tart lime, lemongrass, sweet mint, with flint, and gun smoke, wow!! Drink until 2026. (tasted April 2021)
2019 Jean Luc et Paul Aegerter Corton-Vergennes, Grand Cru – Score: 95.5 (QPR: EVEN)
The nose on this wine starts with deep mushroom and barnyard aromas, then it goes smoky, showing notes of roasted duck, red fruit, smoke, floral notes, rich saline, dense foliage, and toast. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is rich, layered, elegant, plush, and concentrated, but not overly extracted, with sheer elegance, loam, dark cherry, currant, plum, sweet raspberry, and dense dark fruit, porcini mushrooms, dirt, smoke, all wrapped in an ethereal package, just incredible!! The finish is long, dark, green, red, and smoky, with coffee, dark chocolate, and leather. Drink from 2029 until 2036. (tasted April 2021)
My top 25 kosher wines of 2020 including Wine of the Year, Winery of the Year, and the 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 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 categories I added last year, “Winery of the Year”, “Best White 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.
This past year, I think I am pretty sure about my state on kosher wine overall. In the past, I had not yet tasted the pape Clement or other such wines. However, over the past year, those have been covered, and they were a serious letdown. As stated in the article, I truly believe the entire kosher production of the Megrez wines, following the EPIC 2014 vintage of the Pape Clement and others, to be below quality and seriously overpriced, and without value in every category, which is a true shame. The 2015 reds are all poor quality and the whites are not much better, in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 Pape Clement, while better, is a total ripoff for what it is. 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.
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 then adding. We are blessed with a bounty of good wines – just not like a few years ago when that bounty included many 95 and 95+ scoring wines.
The supreme bounty comes from the fact that Royal released the 2018 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 2017 and 2018 Dampt Freres Chablis, both Grand Cru and Premier Cru, and the new 2019 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.
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 2020 kosher wine of the year – is a return to its greatness – the 2018 Elvi Wines EL26
Elvi EL26 is back! Back to the glory days and I have stocked up and sadly, it will sell out quickly, if it is not already sold out! Get a move on, there was not a huge production of this beauty!
So, why did EL26 win? Simple, it is a great wine, and then throw in its WINNER price, and this wine punches at two levels, at the same time! You can read more about this fantastic wine here, in my post about it. Enjoy!
2018 Elvi Wines EL26, Elite, Priorat – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 80% Garnacha (Grenache) and 20% Carignan. This wine is pure heaven, dirt, smoke, roasted animal, saline, mineral, juicy tart red, and blue fruit, with incredible precision and fruit focus – Bravo!
The nose on this wine is pure fun, showing tart red fruit, incredible fresh loam, and dirt, hints of mushroom, licorice, roasted animal, a whiff of oak, sage, rosemary, with dirt, and green notes. This wine is currently far more Bordeaux in style than that of a Spanish Priorat! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is not overly extracted, but it is well extracted, with good mouth and fruit texture, with incredible acid, good fruit focus, showing dark cherry, plum, ripe and tart raspberry, strawberry, oak, vanilla, and garrigue, with green notes, and lovely mouth-draping tannin. The finish is long, green, yet ripe, with great control and precision, with lovely graphite, more roasted meat, scraping minerality, saline, rich smoking tobacco, and smoke, lots of char and smoke. Bravo! With time the wine opens more and shows its riper side, still very controlled, but the fun red and blue fruit become a bit fuller and richer in the mouth – quite an impressive wine! Drink from 2026 until 2036. (tasted December 2020)
Two years ago I tasted a bunch of Dampt Freres red and white wines with Nathan in France. Some of them were nice and others were passable. Then I heard that there were some Premier Cru Chablis released and I had to find a way to get them. While I was doing that I heard there was a Grand Cru! Like what? There has not been a kosher Grand Cru Chablis for a long time, I do not know the exact years, but I heard it was something like 25 years ago.
Dampt Freres is a winery with many vineyards throughout Burgundy and beyond and in 2017 they started to make some of those wines kosher. In 2017 they made a whole lineup that I tasted in 2018, including Pinot Noir and the such. The notes for those are here. However, I did not get to taste the Premier Cru at that time, which is understandable. So, when I heard they were here in the USA – I contacted the importer of the wines, Bradley Alan Cohen from Bradley Alan Imports. Bradley was very kind to send me three wines. The 2017 Premier Cru, the 2018 Premier Cru, and the brand new 2018 Grand Cru.
These are very special wines and two things JUMP at you when you see them. One, there is a QPR WINNER here, for Premier Cru wines, not easy. Secondly, the prices for the kosher are not that far off from the non-kosher prices, maybe a few dollars different. I was really impressed by these wines – this is what Chablis should be like. Screaming acid, crazy mineral, hints of mushroom and loads of dirt. The only con I can see is that these wines are going to be hard to find. Right now, there is little stock, but we hope more is coming soon. There are two or three places with the wines, so use wine-searcher and you will find them, or Google. They are not at the usual, kosherwine.com or onlinekosherwine.com, but they are all in the east coast and some are in Las Vegas as well.
My many thanks to Bradley, and I hope more of these wines will be brought in and that the prices will stay where they are, for the kosher one anyway. So, without too much more delay – let’s get to it! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2017 Dampt Freres Chablis, Premier Cru, Cote de Lechet – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
OK, so, 2017 is the year for Chablis, and of what I had from Dampt Freres, two years ago, a few showed quite well. Those were Petit and a more minor vineyard. This wine is the 2017 Premier Cru and what a wine it is! My goodness, this is what Chardonnay, unoaked of course, ie meant to smell and taste like. It is pure mineral and fruit, with loads of dirt, smoke, and flint – a true joy – BRAVO!!!
The nose on this lovely wine is purely mineral notes, sure there is apple, peach, apricot, and some other white fruit, but who cares, what shines here is the mineral attack, shist, rock, flint, along with lovely white flowers, almonds, and hints of mushroom – I WANT THIS! The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, layers upon layers, come at you, with non-stop attack of mineral, fruit, earth, rich spices, and more mineral. The apricot, peach, yellow and green apple from the nose are present, as are hints of lychee, lovely Meyer lemon, and a tiny amount of crazy Kafir lime leaves and juice – WOW! The finish is so long, with incredible minerality, showing flint, rock, shist, and lovely straw, that brings the entire wine together – wow! A true joy – get this!! Drink until 2025.
2018 Dampt Freres Chablis, Premier Cru, Cote de Lechet – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
So, 2018, may have been a letdown for Chablis, and the crazy thing was that the 2018 Marrionners Chablis and Premier Cru were crazy great at release, and have really taken a step back, thankfully, this Chablis is still going strong.The nose is clearly riper, and though the ABV between 2017 and 2018 of the same wine is the same 13%, there is a clear impact of 2018 on this wine, in comparison to 2017’s mineral bomb. The nose on this wine is riper and indeed it does remind me of the 2018 Marrionners upon release, it has the riper fruit, more of pear, melon, orange blossom, yellow flowers, and such rather than the tart 2017 note, along with some mineral, but this vintage is more fruity than mineral-driven. BEWARE – this wine is still young, leave it time to open, the acidity and minerality will come out, but it needs time, at the start, it will feel short, but with time, it shows its beauty.
The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has more weight and structure than 2017, with the acidity and minerality is in your face at the start, but the finish is shorter, the mouth starts with layers of acid, lovely mineral, followed by pear, lime, lychee, melon, honeydew, and more sweet Meyer lemon, though none of that incredible Kafir lime, still a lovely rich and fuller mouthfeel, with incredible acidity, but less minerality than 2017. The finish is long (again, it starts short, give this wine time to open) with lovely acid, green notes, followed by ripe and waxy notes, with yellow apple, flint, richly dried straw, hay, along with hints of nectarine and orange, with orange rind, and earth galore. It is interesting truly a joy to taste these two vintages of the same wine – side by side, it allows me to better understand the vintages. The 2017 vintage is a mineral bomb, while 2018 is riper, but the hay and straw are more evident in 2018 than in 2017, fun. I want more of this as well – Bravo!! Drink until 2024.
2018 Dampt Freres Chablis, Grand Cru, Les Preuses – Score: 93+ (QPR: EVEN)
OK, let’s start with the obvious, this wine uses a secondary closure of wax, I HATE wax closures, they make such a huge mess. PLEASE, do not hurt yourself, do not try to take it off with a knife of something VERY stupid like that! Simply punch the corkscrew through the wax and remove the cork. Now, in 6 years, maybe that may not be the best idea, and we may well need to rethink it at that time, more of a reason for why I HATE wax closures. Until then, and even then, use the corkscrew, along with an Osso, and pray. OK, now to the wine!
WOW! WOW! I want this!! OMG, this is so much fun! This wine feels like a merger of 2017 Lechet and 2018 Lechet!The nose on this wine is ripe, like 2018 Lechet, but it has the minerality of 2017 Lechet, with notes of beautiful ripe melon, orange blossom, yellow flowers, ripe white and yellow fruit, with loads of minerality, earth, almonds, mushroom, and rich green notes – BRAVO!!! This wine is everything I want in Chablis! When you taste the 2017 Lechet it does not have this weight, when you taste the 2018 Lechet it does not have this intense minerality, when you taste the 2018 Grand Cru you get the best of both worlds, I know, I am repeating myself – OMG just get over it!
The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is rich, layered, incredible, with intense mineral and fruit focus from the start until the very end, and even after that, it lingers forever! The mouth starts with rich layers of nectarine, orange, Meyer lemon, lime, peach, and ripe yellow apple, mingled well with shist, rock, straw, and herbs, with incredible extraction and acidity, hints of tannin, loads of smoke, but what overpowers your senses is the sheer fruit and mineral focus, refreshing, acidic, focused, and deep, wow! The finish is super long, longer than any Chardonnay I have had without oak, with more acidity, mineral, flint, rich saline, ripe Kumquat, hints of lychee, but more Kumquat than Lychee and crazy tart lime/orange – WOW BRAVO!! Drink until 2026.
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: