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 changes 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
I recently had the chance to sit down and taste this wine in my house. I tasted it twice at KFWE and in the end, it was better in the home, after it had the chance to decant and show its real potential.
The wine is made at Domaines Fabre in the Haut-Médoc AOC. The wine is classified under Cru Bourgeois, which while may not be a top classification, includes 267 estates today! One of my all-time favorites is under the Cru Bourgeois classification, Fourcas Dupre!
The classification has wineries from many regions on the left bank and the vast majority of these wines are Cabernet Sauvignon dominated.
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2016 Chateau Lamothe-Cissac, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc – Score: 91 (QPR)
This wine is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. This is a fun wine, remember that we have not yet seen the big wines of 2016. As I have said many times on this blog, the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux may well be better than the 2015 vintage! For now, the few 2016 reds we have seen from Bordeaux are showing nicely.
The nose on this wine shows very nicely with rich loam, dirt, green notes, followed by bright and big black fruit, with hints of mushroom in the background, lovely mint, and menthol notes abound as well. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is fun and alive, with screaming acid, that gives way to intense tannin that is soft and yet rich and mouth coating, with great fruit focus, showing blackcurrant, blackberry, with red cherry, and olives, that give way to green notes, mouth scraping mineral, foliage, and tobacco. The finish is long and green, at the start it is a bit too astringent and green to truly enjoy, with time it comes around with nice spice, earth, graphite, sour notes, more red and black fruit, and nice coffee/chocolate mix. Nice! It can be drunk now, but to really appreciate it, I would decant it for a good 3 hours, to cut some of the green and astringent notes. Drink now (with decanting) till 2027.
When I last left off on the story of my trip to Israel and Europe, I had just ended with a classic run for the border to Weingut Von Hovel. After we returned from visiting Von Hovel we had a wine tasting. It included some new 2016 wines but it mostly involved French wines from the 2014 vintage and earlier.
As I posted here and here, I have been trying to get to all of the 2014 French wines and as many of the 2015 vintages that are released. With this last tasting, I have been able to get to most of the top 2014 kosher French wines that I know of. The two top 2014 kosher Bordeaux wines that I have been able to taste are the 2014 Chateau Pape Clement and the 2014 Smith Haut Lafitte (which I tasted here at this tasting). Right after those superstars come the 2014 Chateau Giscours, 2014 Chateau Malartic, the 2014 Chateau Tour Saint Christophe, the 2014 Chateau Soutard, and the 2014 Chateau Marsac Seguineau. In regards to Sauternes, the two winners are the 2014 Chateau Rayne Vigneau, 1er Cru Classe, and the 2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Classe.
I had not been able to taste the Smith Haut Lafitte or the 2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Classe, until this tasting and they were not a letdown in any manner. WOW, they were worth the trip and worth stocking up where and if possible.
If you are interested in these wines, they are mostly wines that are here or will be here eventually. If you cannot find them or do not want to wait – email Nathan Grandjean about how to get them: Contact@yavine.fr (I DO NOT work for wine stores, never have and never will. I get no kickback or payment for this). I state this here only as information. It also seems that kosherwine.com will soon have the 2014 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Classe as well.
We continued tasting these wines for more than a day, it was only after a long time that the great 2014 wines really opened up. Also, we tasted the Von Hovels throughout this time as well (I did not post the scores here again, as they are in their own post).
The rest of the wines at the tasting were either horrible, passable, or nice enough. My many thanks to JK, Nathan, and his family (for putting up with us). The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2016 LI BI Rose, Cotes du Rhone – Score: 88
The wine is a rose made of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Lovely nose of grapefruit, floral notes, with green apple, gooseberry, with nectarines, and good mineral. The mouth is nice enough, the acid is medium in nature, and while it is well balanced it is unidimensional, with good lemon, peach, and nice acid that does rise after a bit. The finish is long and floral with good saline, mineral, slate, and good spice. Drink up!
2016 Le Mourre de L’isle, White – Score: 87
The wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 30 Viognier, and 30% Grenache Blanc. Lovely nose of peach, and honeysuckle, floral notes, with green apple, and spice. The mouth is slow to open, with peach notes, good acid and balance, with again little complexity but nice acid, with peach, grapefruit, and crazy floral notes. The finish is long with mineral and sweet spices, cinnamon, and cloves. Drink by 2018.
Read the rest of this entry
This past week, I had the chance to taste a bunch of French wines and while some were OK, many were so bad that I was truly shocked. It all started when I tasted a French wine when going out to dinner, it was horrible, like drinking water, that I was shocked. It happened again the next day, and I finally realized that I was going to be very unhappy buying French wines.
I have spoken about this issue in the past, and I am sad to report that basic run of the mill French wines are not getting better. In the end, when I was forcing myself to continue to buy French wines, I decided to go with wines that I was absolutely sure about – because I had tasted them already – sad.
Well, actually I had tasted earlier vintages of them. I bought a bottle of the 2010 Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Haut Medoc and I had tasted the 2006/2007/2008 at the past IFWF 2012. The 2010 continues the bone drying tannins, but has nice complexity and fruit as well.
I also bought a bottle of the 2010 Domaine Lafond Tavel Rose – which was nice and I had drunk the 2009 vintage at the 2011 IFWF, which they also poured at the 2012 IFWF.
I did enjoy another rose, the 2011 Domaine Buman, Bandol, Rose. It was a nice wine and one that is good enough when in the pinch. It will not please everyone as it is far too sweet, with nice acidity and lemon zest. Still, the extra sweetness will turn people off I am sure.
Well, there you have it, a collection of French wines that you can take or leave as you see fit, the wine notes follow below:
2010 Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Haut Medoc – Score: B+ to A-
The wine continues it wonderful history of solid results and its unusual mouth drying tannin. The nose explodes with dark plum, rich loamy earth, graphite, raspberry, anise, blackcurrant, spice, and cloves. The mouth is medium to full bodied and lovely with layers and complexity, with nice mouth drying tannin, that coats the mouth in a funny but nice way, along with kirsch cherry, and nice oak, that is just starting to come together. The finish is long and earthy with dark chocolate, vanilla, mineral, and a hint of lemon zest.
2010 Domaine Lafond, Tavel, Rose – Score: B+
The nose is lovely with ripe strawberry, raspberry, grapefruit, lovely rose, and jasmine, followed by white chocolate, and citrus zest. The mouth is medium in weight, but nice and dry, with good acidity, along with peach and bitter herb. The finish is long and spicy, with mineral, cloves, slate, and graphite.
2011 Domaine Buman, Bandol, Rose – Score: B to B+
The nose on this pink salmon and beautiful colored wine explodes with nice strawberry, raspberry, and herb. The mouth is medium in weight with bitter herb, lemon zest, nice bracing acid, too much sweetness does throw the mouth, along with grapefruit, fig, and lemon zest. The finish is long and spicy with good slate, rose, floral notes, and peach.
2009 Chateau Pouyanne, Graves – Score: B- (At best!)
The wine is simply water with a red color. It has ZERO complexity, though it does have a bit flavor, and texture, it misses everything else that it is not worth buying – unless there is no beer or anything else.
This past week saw us invited to our friend’s house and the first week where I could taste wine! Yes, I could not taste wine for three weeks – AHH!!! Crazy stuff. But, I picked up a wicked cold and needed some heavy-duty anti-biotic to rid myself of a nasty sinus infection. Anyway, I am back and I really enjoyed the wines we tasted this past week.
Our friends invited us to their house and as usual the food was awesome! The dinner started with Moroccan fish that was paired nicely with a fresh green salad, a winter green salad, and humus. Dinner was some awesome roasted chicken and potatoes, gonde and beans, Chicken/prune/Quince stew (Khoresh-E Morgh-O Alu). The food was clearly Persian and was absolutely fantastic.
We brought a bottle of Haut Medoc and our hosts had one as well. It was fun to compare them for a couple of reasons. The host opened the two bottles at the same time, but they did not air out at the same time because they were different vintages, different varietals, and because the second wine was not poured till later in the evening. Wine will air out faster when the bottle is emptied just a bit, so that the wine level reaches below the bottle’s shoulder. This creates the largest possible surface area for wine within a bottle.
The wine paired quite nicely with the main course. The wine notes follow below. Many thanks to my friends for a lovely dinner and wonderful company.
2003 Barons Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild, Haut-Medoc – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is popping with blackberry, raspberry, cranberry, and oak. The mouth on this, 60% Cabernet / 40% Merlot, full bodied wine is plush with fat tannins that mellow over time along with raspberry, blackberry, and oak. The mid palate starts off very acidic but calms down quickly and melds with oak and integrating tannins. The finish is long with more tannins, spicy oak, acidity, and a touch of leather.
2002 Chateau Malmaison Baronne Nadine de Rothschild, Moulis-en-Medoc Cru – Score: B+
The nose on this ruby colored wine is heavy with cherry, plum, oak, and minerals. The mouth starts off over tannic, but it smooths out over time, to an almost mouth coating consistency. It is followed by rich plum and cherry flavors. The mid palate starts off very acidic, almost astringent, but the acidity clams down, into a rich and balanced mid palate. The finish is long with more red fruit, spicy notes, and slight mineral/earthy finish.
This past Friday night (September 18th, 2009) was the first night of Rosh Hashanah 5770. My friend was very kind to invite us over for the New Year and as usual the hospitality and cuisine was out of this world. The meal started with the requisite tradition called – simanim, that we brought over along with a bottle of wine. The simanim are a play on words and are a very basic Jewish tradition of using word play to bring out symbolism and actual changes or good tidings. The ones we brought over are part of what one may call the “base package”, while in recent years folks have been adding on premium channels and special language channels. The seder’s menu is as follows (according to Ashkenazi tradition):
- Sweet apple dipped in honey (along with the requisite blessing over fruit of the tree)
- Broad Beans coated with a mixture of olive oil, cumin, and garlic
- Leeks – prepared masterfully by the host, sautéed in margarine and spices
- Beets – boiled plainly and then cubed, with orange juice applied on top
- Sweet Butternut Squash – sliced butternut squash, sprayed with oil and covered with honey, then baked in an oven set to 400 degrees.
- Pomegranate seeds
- Fish head – salmon head baked at 350 degrees
After that we had a lovely tomato and potato soup with a nice quaffing wine – the 2006 Gedeon Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet was nice, but the soup was better. The soup was followed by a plethora of food that started with braised brisket, potatoes, Thai chicken, and assorted vegetables. The dinner was fantastic. We had the 2002 Haut-Medoc with the dinner, and it was truly slow to open. However, once it did finally open a few hours into the meal, it was a fun wine that matched the brisket very well.
Many thanks to our friends for hosting us and serving us such a wonderful feast. The wine note follow below:
2006 Gedeon Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B
It is a nice quaffing wine with a basic nose of red fruit, raspberry, cherry, oak, vanilla, and tobacco. I must say that the mouth on this wine is nice. It is soft and not complex in any way, but the red fruit is evident and the acidity in the mid palate balances out the fruit forward mouth. The finish is average long, but may well be the best part of the wine with a smoky tobacco, nice oak, and toasty vanilla. The wine is a simple and nice quaffer, and Mevushal to boot.
2002 Barons de Rothschild Edmond Benjamin Haut-Medoc – Score: B+
This bottle starts off dead at best for a few hours. We popped the cork on this puppy at 9PM and it finally found itself at around 11PM, give or take a few minutes. The nose on this purple colored sleeping giant started off dull, but opened to black cherry, black plum, raspberry, oak, chocolate, and a dollop of vanilla. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine filled out nicely with mouth coating tannins that lifted the wine, though not in a subtle way. The mouth starts with black plum, cherry, raspberry, and tannins. The mid palate is balanced nicely with just enough acidity, along with tannins and oak. The finish is long with nice black fruit that is carried through to the finish line with acidity, wonderful dark chocolate, and vanilla. The finish is great, the chocolate and black fruit meld in an almost magical manner. Give this wine enough time and it will deliver. This is less complex than it is wonderful, which is not bad at all.