Sometimes I’ll start writing a post and then life being as busy as it is, I’ll put it aside to finish later. For me, that’s usually a bad idea. If it’s a specific-wine related post, by the time I get back to it, I often feel that its time has passed – or that the notes may no longer be accurate. In any event, I realize that I never got to finish my final post from my last trip to France with David Raccah, way back in November 2021. The reason is simple. The other posts about that trip are about visits with winemakers or producers – and those come easier to me, as there is a unifying theme that pulls the post together. This post would have been about all of the wines that we tasted in the hotel each evening or in between visits. The number is staggering. I think we counted over 80 bottles just there. Don’t get too excited. The vast majority are not very good. Of course, as anyone who tastes wines regularly will tell you, when tasting a large number of random bottles, in order to make it fun you are looking for them to either be surprisingly good – or horribly bad. Otherwise, it’s just boring.
In this case, we had a little bit of both. David has previously posted about these wines here for the Taieb wines, and here for the rest – and as they are now a year old, rather than give my specific notes – I’d just like to give my overall impressions of something we repeatedly noticed during this tasting. Next time, I will try to describe the experience in depth as to what it’s like to organize and taste through this number of wines in such a short period of time.
First, the standout producer from these wines was of course Taieb. We didn’t get to go way up there to visit on that trip – as we were pressed for time (and that’ll likely be the case on the next trip as well), but it is remarkable just how many reasonably priced good wines Taieb puts out each season. It is wonderful. As I have said over and over – I only wish we could see these wines – with proper shipping and storage and still reasonably priced in Israel and the US. I can’t understand why this never seems to come together.
The real story though from that tasting was how many upscale productions there were that were overall failures. The Famille Daubree Corps de Loup Rhone wines and the Charles Pere & Fils Burgundys are great examples. These bottles were EXTREMELY expensive – and IMHO – they suck. Some of the Rhone wines were peach juice. I mean sweet peach juice. Not drinkable for me. Raccah was generous with his scores – my scores across the board were lower on these wines – and quite frankly, that’s rare for us – I am usually the one who is more forgiving.
And so – it needs to be pointed out – just because there is an expensive wine from a good non-kosher label, it does NOT mean that the kosher version is going to be in-line. This is where Royal and IDS get credit. They work VERY hard at making sure the wines they produce meet the standards of each winery they are working with. A lot of these other productions are one-offs. And the reason they are one offs is because someone gets into their heads that doing a kosher run is not just lucrative, but easy. It isn’t. You need people who know what they are doing. The logistics involved alone are enough to make your head spin. And so, in practice, people making these wines cut corners and the results are in the bottle. Again, as shown above with Taieb, making good kosher French wine consistently AND at reasonable prices is certainly doable. You just need to invest the effort and money of setting up your production properly from the outset – including proper staff and procedure – and then keep it going. And before you answer that IDS, Royal, and Taieb are veterans and some of these producers are just cutting their teeth, what M & M importers has done in Italy proves that if you take things seriously and invest properly from the start – you can consistently produce top tier kosher wines. If not, you end up with these types of wines where you have an impressive bottle, with a seemingly nice pedigree, but some pretty pedestrian juice (at best) inside.
Anyhow, I’ll end my rant now as I am about to board a flight to Paris and start this craziness all over again. I will certainly try to be more prompt with my notes this time around. Happy drinking.