2 New French Whites + A Closer Look At Some of the 2016 Bordeaux Releases from Royal

This past week I had the privilege of attending a tasting given by Menachem Israelievitch of Royal Wine Corp. Menachem is the winemaker responsible for all of Royal’s French releases since the 2014 vintage – and until then served as assistant to his predecessor Pierre Miodownick. The man is super humble giving most of the credit to the incredible fruit and estates and winemakers he works with – but really, it takes a tremendous amount of skill to be able to manage this massive operation and produce SOOO many quality wines. I over the course of my KFWE tour I tasted (and enjoyed) all of the 2016 red releases repeatedly – but never really had time to sit down with any of them for a dedicated amount of time. So when I heard that Menachem was doing this tasting I was super excited. What I didn’t know is that 2 new French whites that he had told me about at KFWE were already bottled and would also be on deck for this tasting – these being tasted in their finished form for the first time by anyone but Menachem himself. What a treat!

The whites in question are made from neighboring appellations by the same producer – Domaine de Panquelaine which is part of the Vignerons Indépendants de France trade association which helps promote small independent producers. The appellations in question are Coteaux du Giennois and Sancerre. Sancerre needs no introduction, many kosher sancerres have been produced with the 2012 Roger Moreux Chavignol being my all time favorite Sauvignon Blanc. Coteaux du Giennois on the other hand was new to me . I don’t remember another kosher production. The appellation was only recognized in 1998. Much like it’s more famous and older Loire Valley neighbors, Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, Coteaux du Giennois is also made of 100% Sauvignon Blanc. SO tasting these neighboring appellations by the same producer would be interesting in it’s own right. Both of these are very nice – and mevushal. Having said that, I always wonder if the wines would have been even better had they not been made mevushal. Of course Mencahem has had success with making these small producer whites like the Les Marronniers Chablis mevushal. That wine is a QPR star and holds up nicely. The 2016 is drinking incredibly right now, so you never know.

2018 Domaine de Panquelaine, Coteaux du Giennois – When you put your nose to this wine immediately after pouring, you say WOW – this is a dead ringer for the Moreux Chavignol . Beautifully floral. Intoxicating. orange blossom, followed by tart green apple and some nice citrus. While the mouth doesn’t live up to the nose, it’s still very nice on first drink with great citrus, nice acidity and a touch of funk in the back. The wine evolves quickly in the glass both nose and mouth and you are left with more of the funk in the mouth which is actually very nice, but all of the floral notes on the nose totally disappear. You are left with a wine that is nice, though missing a bit of depth that it shows immediately after opening. Still, really nice and well done and at a list price of about $20 in the US, it’s an easy buy and provides nice value – and is a rare Sauvignon Blanc I would be happy to drink daily.

2018 Domaine de Panquelaine, Sancerre – This wine is a mineral monster and I love it. Both nose and mouth have loads of minerailty, and some nice citrus. There is a touch of salinity here as well. The depth of flavor that was perhaps missing in the previous wine is absolutely present here. But let me get back to the mineral – it just keeps on coming. Really liked this one as well. List price will be about $30 on this one and is another Sauvignon Blanc I would be happy to buy.

Here we moved on to the reds – and I am so happy that I got some quality time with them as none of these are as of yet available in Israel. One note – all of red the wines discussed below were decanted for about 4 hours with the exception of the Clarke which just had the shoulders dropped as it arrived later.

2016 Les Roches de Yon-Figeac, Saint-Emilion – What a way to start. This wine shows SOOO much promise. The blend here is 80/20 Merlot/Cab Franc – with a touch of PV thrown in to round it out. On the nose, rich dark fruit and earth. In the mouth the wine is already semi-approachable, there are tons of umami and mushrooms notes to unravel here – and it’s a baby! The wine continues with some nice tobacco and spice and only then follows with the dark fruit. There is plenty of acidity and tannic structure to keep this wine for a decade – but as I said, it’s already enjoyable on many levels now – PLUS its a moderately priced ’16 Bordeaux – really, what more could you want?

2016 Chateau Clarke, Listrac-Medoc – As opposed to the Les Roches which proceeded it, this wine is in its very early stages – both wines are Merlot based – with this one at 70% with the remaining 30% made up of Cabernet Sauvignon – and both show promise. But this wine presents much fruitier currently withe loads of blue and black fruit unloading. Then you get some of the nice minerailty and finally the earthiness at the very bottom. The finish is classic tobacco and chocolate.The wine is in its infancy with great acidity and mouth coating tannin. Great stuff!

2016 Chateau Saint-Corbian, St. Estephe – The nose is all dark fruit and sweet herb and a hint of earth. In the mouth, there is rich red fruit nd sweet spice. The acid is there and the tannin was more integrated than I would have thought. In fact, his wine was the most ready of the bunch IMHO. Of course it was after a 4 hour decant…. In any event this wine is really nice if not as complex as the others tasted this evening.

At this point we took a break an enjoyed some of the excellent charcuterie that our hosts, my friends Stacey and Dorie provided. A mix of American stuff they brought in and French style charuterie from the people at Artisans-Charcutiers located in Jerusalem. Gotta say it’s nice having some top-notch stuff readily available here in Israel. Yummy stuff. We then moved on to the two big boys in the room.

2016 Chateau Du Tertre, Margaux, Grand Clu Classe – This wine might have been my favorite of the night. Not sure if it was due to the fact that I just had the meat, but there was a wonderful smokiness in the nose here. That is followed with blue and red ripe fruit. In the mouth, talk about beautiful wines, this wine was described around the table as elegant – and I can’t agree more. While full bodied, the layers of fruit here that kept on unfolding slowly were incredible followed by some absolutely incredible bramble and earthiness that was rich and supportive of the fruit. WOW.

2016 Chateau Lascombes, Margaux, Grand Clu Classe – This is one of those wines that just fires on all cylinders and doesn’t stop. The nose here is crazy rich deep blue fruit followed up with some mushroom and deep earth. The mouth follows through with the mushrooms and rich dark blue & red fruit with soy sauce, and earth. The tannin here just coats your mouth in richness providing excellent firm structure. The finish here is again deep dark chocolate, tobacco, mushrooms and earth – and it is seemingly endless. Really – a powerhouse.

2016 Chateau Piada, Sauternes – This is a wine I have had many times before. Tonight it was elevated by being served with Foie Gras Torchon that just brought all of the richness out. In terms of the wine, the nose is classic – with honeyed apricot. In the mouth, more of the same with maybe a little lychee as well. Is it my favorite Sauternes? No. But it is still very good – and super young and my yet develop. IN any event, when you have it with Foie, it almost doesn’t make a difference, the sweet salty torchon just went SOOO well.

Let me take this opportunity to thank Stacey and Dorie for hosting this excellent tasting and Menachem Israelievitch of Royal Wine for sharing his wines and his time.

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