A tasting of M&M Importers’ latest imports – April 2023
In contrast to my previous post on M&M imports, this follow-up post was only a couple of months apart! This post is meant to catch up with the wines that I missed in my last post. I finally got to taste the non-mevushal version of the lovely 2021 Arneis! Along with the other Sicilian and the Reserve Brunello! I also got to taste the new 2018 Falesco wines. So, yeah a few more Italian wines that I missed in the last post to round out the M&M wines that are produced under their label. Of course, they also import Les Vins de IDS into the USA, but those wines can be found under my IDS tasting.
It is also a pleasure to taste the wines from Ralph Madeb, president and CEO of M&M Importers. The BIG news is that now his wines are available on kosherwine.com! I really hope this helps to spread the good word about the work that Ralph and his team do!
Just take a quick look at the wine notes below and you will find 3 QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) WINNER scores. That is incredible for such a small number of wines. Three out of six WINNERS is another incredible value-based lineup. Unlike the previous posts’ WINNER, these wines fall in the middle of the pack in regards to pricing for their category.
I finally got to taste the non-mevushal version of the Arneis and it is superior in all things I desire. Acidity, minerality, and verve. In the end, this is a clear QPR WINNER!
The 2016 Tassi Brunello is a fantastic wine and while I liked the 2016 Brunello, Riserva, the outcome for me was that I will appreciate the non-Riserva more. I am sure that in a decade I might think otherwise, but for now, I like the comparable calm and balance that the non-Riserva shows, at this moment.
Famiglia Cotarella (AKA Falesco)
The 2018 Falescos feel far more in balance than the 2014 vintage. The 2018 Falesco Marciliano is the one that tickles my 2006 memories, while the Montiano is close but not quite there. I did not try the 375 ml of the 2018 Marciliano, but I intend to do so soon. I guess is that it will show the notes I describe earlier than it took the 750 to arrive at.
I got to taste the other two Sicilian wines, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Nero D’Avola. I think this is the first kosher Nero D’Avola. This is cool and while I liked it again, the issue was balance. It has enough but I crave the texture and tension and that was where it was lacking. The Cabernet Sauvignon is just a big wine and one that I think many will appreciate.
This tasting was not done in a day or a week, like last time, it took over three weeks to taste through the lineup and throughout it all, I kept to the same approach. Write the initial notes at the opening, then a few hours later write any changes, and then finally over the days I would add thoughts. The wines did evolve, other than a few, and when/if they did, the notes reflect those thoughts and concerns.
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, listed in the order I tasted them – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here and the explanation for QPR scores can be found here:
2021 Pescaja Solei’ Arneis, Terre Alfieri – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
The 3rd kosher vintage now comes in mevushal and non-mevushal formats. This was the tasting for the non-mevushal. PSA – This wine needs to be CHILLED – LIKE Champagne chilled, PLEASE! The nose of this wine shows entirely differently than with the mevushal, what hits you first is the incredible brightness, minerality, smoke, dense flint, and sheer precision. The perfume of minerality takes my breath away, with nicely ripe peach, almond, intense flint, violet, and sweet ripe pear. The mouth is medium-bodied wine is incredible, with intense acidity, rich and unctuous mouthfeel, pear, nectarine, peach, nutmeg, and lemon/lime. The finish is long, tart, ripe, spicy, and driven by its mineral core, with lovely fruit, and rich spices. The wine shows refreshing, elegant, complex, and tart all at the same time. BRAVO! Drink until 2025. (tasted March 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13%)
2016 Tassi Brunello di Montalcino, Bettina Cuvee, Franci Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino – Score: 94 (QPR: GREAT)
The nose of this wine is incredible, ripe, balanced, and mineral-driven, but equally floral, with dense underbrush, mushroom, violet, blue flowers, stone, and rock, all wrapped in red and black fruit, intoxicating and refreshing. The mouth of this medium-plus-bodied wine is shockingly accessible at this point, which is different from the Tassi 2016, with grippy yet mouth-draping tannin, showing a ripeness I was not expecting, with sour cherry, raspberry, black plum, citrus, intense acidity, and elegance that belies its youth but also tells a story of its future. What a lovely wine, plush, dense, elegant, smoky, and concentrated without being an overbearing beast. Really impressive! The finish is long, tart, screaming with minerality, scraping graphite, earth, loam, mushroom, intense acidity, and a sense that this wine is ready but also still holding back. Drink until 2032. Bravo!!! (tasted March 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.5%)
2019 Feudi del Pisciotto Cabernet Sauvignon, Terre Siciliane – Score: 90 (QPR: EVEN)
I wanted to love this one as much as I loved the Merlot it is close but it is still too ripe for me. Still, this is a professional wine and one that many will appreciate. The nose of this wine starts ripe and while it slows down a bit the wine stays ripe behind the scene, with blackberry, anise, candied raspberry, boysenberry, sweet vanilla, roasted herb, and smoke. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe, dense, concentrated, and smoky, with blackberry, candied raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, sweet profile, nice acidity, some refreshing mint, menthol, anise, and sweet roasted herb. The finish is long, ripe, smoky, herbal, and concentrated, with mouth-draping tannin, sweet herbs, vanilla, leather, milk chocolate, and graphite. If I had not known better I would have said Napa Cab, but instead, it is Sicilian! Drink from 2024 until 2028. (tasted March 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 13.5%)
2019 Feudi del Pisciotto Nero D’Avola, Terre Siciliane – Score: 90.5 (QPR: GREAT)
This is the first Nero D’Avola that I know of that has been made kosher. Very cool. The nose of this wine starts ripe and rife with oak, with some time that calms to show a nose of ripe black and blue fruit, floral notes of violet and rose, intense smoke, mineral, graphite, smoked Arbol chili, bay leaf, sweet cedar, tar, and grilled meat. In many ways, this feels like a Syrah mixed with a Cabernet, very unique. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is bold, intense, layered, and complex, yet too ripe for me, still, a unique wine showing blackberry, dark cherry, dark plum, boysenberry, roasted mint, menthol, floral notes, intense sweet cedar, ripe and concentrated fruit that gives way to extraction, sweet mouth-draping tannin, lovely acidity, almost refreshing, but still a bit too ripe. Nice! The finish is long, dense, and ripe, with more green notes, hot chili, smoked meat, roasted herb, loam, dust, ripe black/red fruit, and smoked chocolate lingers long. Interesting. Drink until 2026. (tasted March 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14%)
2018 Famiglia Cotarella (Falesco) Marciliano, Rosso Umbria – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This Cabernet starts ripe, but you can see it has potential, and it needs time to come around. The nose of this wine, as it opens, is ripe with mushroom, blue and black fruit, smoke, loam, earth, lovely minerality, iron shaving, tar, licorice, and rich smoke. The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe, layered, and concentrated, with lovely acidity, blackberry, boysenberry, dark cherry, candied blackcurrant and raspberry, mushroom, loam, rich dirt, loads of mineral, graphite, elegant mouth-draping tannin, and intense smoke. The finish is long, dirty, ripe, refreshing, acidic, balanced, and just lovely, the minerality, earth, and smoke balance the fruit until it calms, with leather, and smoking tobacco, just lovely! Drink from 2028 until 2034. (tasted April 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.3%)
2018 Famiglia Cotarella (Falesco) Montiano, Lazio – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
This merlot also starts ripe, with lovely herbal notes, and roasted blue and black fruit, with smoke, sweet cedar, tobacco, lovely mushroom, rosehip/violet, roasted animal, loam, dirt, and intense bramble, lovely! The mouth of this full-bodied wine is ripe but well-balanced, with lovely acidity, loam, mushroom, blackberry, plum, ripe raspberry, roasted animal, sweet spices, dirt, and lovely mouth-draping tannin. The finish is long dark and brooding, but balanced, with mushroom galore, concentrated, and elegant, deep graphite, smoking tobacco, crushed/roasted herb, cloves, cinnamon, minerality, lovely! The wine really will need time, the window is insane on this wine, let this wine come to you, please! Drink from 2030 until 2036. (tasted April 2023) (in San Jose, CA) (ABV = 14.3%)
A tasting of M & M Importers latest imports
I was in NYC for a few days and I had the opportunity to have dinner 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).
The current lineup of wines is the following:
2013 Eccelenza, Bianco Umbria (tasted in past)
2014 Famiglia Cotarella, Marciliano, Umbria (note below)
2014 Famiglia Cotarella, Montiano, Lazio (note below)
2014 Chateau Leroy-Beauval, Bordeaux Superieur (tasted in past)
2016 Chateau Haut Brisson, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru (tasted in past)
2016 Chateau Tour Saint Christophe, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru (tasted in past)
2018 Valle Reale Botteotto Montepulciano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (not yet tasted)
2015 Chateau Labegorce, Margaux (tasted in past)
2015 Virginie de Valandraud, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru (tasted in past)
2016 Chateau Leydet-Valentin, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru (not yet tasted)
2011 Chateau de Valois, Pomerol (note below)
2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Pommard, Reserve Personnelle (note below)
2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, Reserve Personnelle (note below)
2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Gevrey-Chambertin, Reserve Personnelle (note below)
2016 Château La Tour de By, Heritage Marc Pages, Médoc (note below)
2018 Clos des Lunes Lune D’Argent, Bordeaux (note below)
NV Janisson & Fils Champagne Brut Rose (tasted in past)
NV Janisson & Fils Champagne Brut Blanc (tasted in past)
While the IDS portfolio is impressive, I find the Italian wines more impressive, Italy is where I truly believe Kosher wine can shine. Of course, the French wines from IDS and those that M&M have imported are very impressive and really shows the power and potential of France for kosher wines.
The focus of the tasting were the 2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter wines. They were all very impressive, the wines are super young now and have a long way to go. Still, as much I really liked them, they are a step behind the current kosher star of Burgundy Domaine Lescure. I have put in my order for all three 2018 Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter wines and I hope to watch them evolve. For now, do not waste your money tasting them, store them away and start opening them up 6 years from now. Still, the best wine at the tasting was the 2016 Château La Tour de By, Heritage Marc Pages, it is a rich, racy, and in-your-face Medoc wine that should be a sure buy by all.
My many thanks to Ralph and his partner for sharing their wines with us, the wine notes follow below:
The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2018 Clos des Lunes Lune D’Argent, Bordeaux – Score: 91 to 92
This wine is a blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this wine is lovely, with flint, rock, gooseberry, citrus, and green notes, with orange blossom, yellow fruit, and earth. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine comes at you in layers of fruit, with a nice integrated acid, showing green notes, tart with asparagus, yellow plum, dry straw, with mineral, lovely smoke, tart fruit, rock, and grapefruit and lemon/lime. The finish is long, green, with orange notes, and mineral that lingers long forever. Drink by 2023. Read the rest of this entry
A birthday party long in the makings
Well, this past weekend I had a long-delayed birthday party at home, with friends and great wines. In honor of my birthday, I made the classic Tunisian Friday night dinner, but without all the classic trimmings; Couscous with boulettes.
This was one of my better couscous for a few reasons. First of all, the axiom – more is better, is truly meant to describe how much chicken you should throw into a chicken soup recipe. Second, I threw in a bunch of onions, zucchini, and ground up – oven roasted – mushrooms into the meatball recipe. Sadly, the makoud was lacking, because I refused to douse it with oil and eggs. The age old Tunisian cooking rule holds very true to makoud, if the dish does not look like an oil spill, you have done it all wrong. In this case, the lack of 12 eggs and an easy hand on the oil made for more of a potato mash than a souffle.
With that, the rest was up to me and Benyo, from Four Gates Winery to handle the rest of the wine duties. ER and HK brought apple cobbler dessert, while SR and JR brought some dessert that was hijacked by Rochel for later consumption. Fear not, they both know the drill, some things that are dessert based, never make it to the table, they are essentially Teruma to the goddess of the house. Read the rest of this entry
Another Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon Friday night with friends
Three weeks ago friends came by for a shabbat as they were visiting the area for a doctor’s conference. The most entertaining part of the shabbat (food wise) was JP’s dietary requirements. The good news was these requirements were not a full group requirement (three total in the posse), but rather a diet need of just JP. The group was fantastic, and the table dynamic was really quite interesting. One of the other guests at the table, who was also hosting the group for lunch the next day, thanked me for introducing the group to them, so yeah they are ok folks.
The interesting fact about JP is that not only is this man vegan (100%), but he is also gluten free. Those two requirements combine to make quite a potent 1-2 punch! Still we worked it out! Once again I went with two pots of trusted Sausage Stew, one with sausage and one sans the sausage! To pump up the Umami flavors I pan fried portobello mushrooms and Tempeh, separately that is. Overall the food approach worked well I think, but the wines were the real winner of the evening – it was a dinner of beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wines along with a couple of outliers.
The last dinner we had with guests was also a Cabernet night, but we still had more wines we wanted to try. So, JP was very kind to bring a fantastic wine – a bottle of the 2007 Domaine du Castel Grand Vin, what a wine! It was velvet in a bottle, with still gripping tannins, but mouth coating and plush with layers of complexity and secondary notes coming into form.
Before I rant on my epic fail wine, the two 2007 wines were both brought by guests and they are insane wines. The 2007 Domaine du Castel Grand Vin is pure heaven. The 2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon is lovely, really special – but a step behind the Castel GV.
Now on to my rant, the entire night was a home run (at least wine wise), except for my one EPIC fail! You see I trusted people who told me that a wine was really good, and having had an earlier vintage of this wine, I assumed this they were correct. Well, what can I say, I wasted a TON of money of wines that are really not that special at all (with clear date leanings). Look, I know I am a bit more old world in nature than some, but when the entire table, JP, JR, Benyo, and others just say NO (think the upcoming elections), the wine was barely touched, all I can say is EPIC FAIL! The wine was the 2008 Falesco Marciliano Umbria IGT, which pales horribly in comparison to its younger sibling the 2006 Falesco Marciliano Umbria IGT, which I had in NYC last year. The wine is NOT flawed structure wise, but it is overripe, parker-ized, and pushed so hard that it shows. Interestingly, I was given a bottle of the same wine, from a different channel (hand imported it from France to Israel and then home). It will be interesting to see if the issue is the wine or the import/storage manner of the wines I bought – before I got my hands on them.
The outcome of this unfortunate purchase, is a new and I hope fruitful direction I will use in wine buying going forward. I WILL NEVER BUY A WINE I HAVE NOT TASTED. PERIOD! It does not matter if the wine will sell out, nor does it matter if my closest wine confidant says it is good, DO NOT CARE! I have had too many large losses, this past 12 months, from using my old approach, to continue using it any longer. Last year alone I spent countless dollars on promises of my friends and wine aficionados, BAD MOVE! The only person who knows what I like, is me, and therefore, I am happy to have less good wine than more bad wine. Read the rest of this entry
Kosher wine and food madness – New York style
Back In March I had the opportunity to spend some time in NYC and hang with some friends. It was three days of wine tasting in foodie heaven and I wanted to post about the wines and the food, because some of it was just spectacular! It all started on a Monday night after the very average City Winery event, I made my way to SB and DF’s home and continued the wine tasting there. Sadly, I seemed to have misplaced my notes for two of the wines; namely the 2007 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard Choice and the 2004 Ella Valley RR, Vineyard’s Choice. The RR, if I remember correctly was all over the place and on the other side already in puppy heaven. The 2007 VC Cab was rocking, with rich layers and lovely barnyard, but for some reason I do not have the notes, no idea why! Of what I do remember the 2007 Cab VC was very old world in style with barnyard and lovely dirt and mushroom notes, with blackberry and plum, lovely! The 2007 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz started off OK, but went all over the place quickly and went into blackcurrant madness and lost all balance, sadly. The 2004 Castel C was DOA, not fun at all. In the end, the first night was ruled by the epic 2007 Hagafen Late disgorged Brut and the 2007 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard Choice.
After that, it was off to bed, as we had a long day ahead. I woke up pretty much on time the next day, and we were off to see a wine store in the area, where I picked up a few bottles for the next few nights festivities and then it was back to the house to enjoy bubbly and some insane meat along with two wicked red wines; the 2005 Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2003 Malartic Lagraviere, Pessac-Leognan. Both were insane, but the Malartic is an entirely different world wine, with filthy layers of fruit, tannin, and barnyard – madness!!! Still, the 2005 Yatir Cabernet (their first varietal cab) was really impressive and had no flaws.
The next day I jumped on a bus and made my way to Brooklyn where I hung out with friends of ours, and for dinner I made my way to YC’s house, where a crazy dinner was being setup. By the time I arrived, YC and YB were going mano-a-mano, side by side, with varying types beef tartare, and rib roasts, while YB handled the burgers exclusively. Humorously, looking back at the dinner it really turned out to be an entire night of uncooked fish and beef tartare – really! When I arrived I was famished so we ordered in a LOT of Sushi for the guests who were already arriving, while the two cavemen “prepared” the meat, there really was no cooking going on here! Once we had inhaled the sushi (or most of it) and were accepting of a time-out, I ripped through a few of the white and bubbly wines described below, for note purposes only (they were not that enjoyable) and then we were ready for the serious food, cooked or not! On a total aside, the sushi came from an establishment called Five day sushi! Now, I am not into marketing, seriously, but who the heck came up with that name?? Do you think anyone who looks at that name, would care that fish were created on the fifth day of creation?? NOT ME!! All people looking at that name, for the most part, will think they sell sushi that is five days old, how safe or appetizing do they think that sounds?? With that said, the sushi was great, albeit the horrific name.
The meat evening started with two courses – one made each by YC and YB – of beef tartare, YC’s was more Dijon mustardy and spice, while YB’s had smoked tongue rilletes, oil, and lots of herb – if I remember correctly. From there they went to rib eye two ways, which was essentially raw meat with a slight sear – LOL!!! Actually, YB brought this sick looking chunk of meat and that went on the girl for about 30 seconds, maybe a drop more! The inside was still moving and blue while the outside was well seared, as I said raw meat night! Next, there were burgers, of which I cannot remember, but again it was well seared raw beef patties, really beef tartare but in a ufo shape! Finally, YC brought out a huge chunk of rib eye meat (AKA roast) and I grabbed the bone, and finally there was actual cooked meat! However, to be honest, by then I was cooked, I was not spitting much and the raw meat was fermenting in my stomach and I was out for the count.
While the food was lovely, and equally beautiful to look at, the true stars of the evening were the wines. I started with a bottle of Rambam Prosecco, which was drinkable, I spat that one! The next was another white wine, a bottle of 2012 Giersberger Riesling, and it was nice enough, clearly the best of the lineup they bring to the US, but a B+ at best. Next we moved to the 2007 Yarden Pinot Noir, and while it is nice, it is nowhere near the epic 2008 PN. The 2007 was a solid B+ wine that is in drink up mode. Next was the 2012 Hajdu Cabernet Franc, which is a lovely wine, but it is starting to show a bit more ripe than I remember last, and while it is not flawed it did not show well that night. That was followed by two wines that are clearly lightning rods for me. I posted before about the two new Lewis Pasco wines, and while they are clearly ripe, some do not think they are over the top. To me, they have power but they are unbalanced and not wines I would stock up on. The 2012 – project #1 is going sweet, so watch out. The Liquidity 2012 is sadly over the top, and when I had it in 2013, from barrel, at sommelier it was beautiful. When I had it in 2014, from bottle, at sommelier – I posted that I thought they were over the top. I wanted to get a bottle here in the USA and get a chance to sit down with them and taste them over a dinner or more, and sadly after doing so, my opinion of them is worse than it was in Israel. Yes, I am in the minority, and I have no issue with that. I find them rich and extracted and unctuous, but also too ripe, unbalanced, and date like. I understand this will not be accepted well by many, but these are my notes, for my tracking, and do with them as you see fit. Read the rest of this entry