France Trip 2022 – Part 1 – Bokobsa

Time for my posts on my annual trip to France with my friend David Raccah of Like last time, we spent the entirety of this trip in Paris rather than visiting any specific wine-making area. The real benefit here is in our ability to taste a larger number of wines in the hotel, so we get a lot more covered that way. While that’s nice – and its important to taste as much as we can, my vote is to integrate at least one “away” day per trip,  so that we visit a few wineries in a specific region as part of the trip  – just to mix it up a little. In all honesty, I have now been to France a number of times, and I have basically seen the inside of a single winery in Alsace and NO standard tourist attractions. That’s right – I have never been to the Arche de triumph, the Eifel Tower or the Louvre, and I have spent 90% of my time in Paris!!! But that’s how dedicated we have been to tasting as much as possible. And quite honestly, this trip we hit an all-time high of 85 bottles tasted in the hotel over three days. But more on that later on.

While this trip lasted only three days, we accomplished a lot and I have two major takeaways:

  1. While not reflected in the two 2021 wines tasted below, 2021 was in general a horrible vintage for red wines in France. This is shown in all of the smaller wines that we tasted. Almost all of them tasted green, tinny, and thin. For kosher, Burgundies had an extra problem over their non-kosher counterparts (which themselves were impacted by the frost and all of the other climate issues) in that the harvest took place over the chagim this year – which made it extra challenging for mashgichim to be present at crucial times to process the grapes. Now none of the big Bordeaux wines have been released yet, of course – that will come next year – but things don’t bode well (though I am told that many of Royal’s bigger wines did well during en premier tasting in non-kosher – so who knows.
  2. With the Bordeaux big boys, 2020 is the most accessible vintage we have seen in a long time. Now – that’s not universal (I’m looking at you Carillon d’Angelus!), but it’s a pretty fair generalization.

Anyhow – these are topics that will come up over the course of the next few posts, so keep them in mind. Now onto the specifics of the trip.

I landed on a Monday morning and after davening, a quick shower, and a cup of coffee, we headed out to Bokobsa, our first stop of the trip. Crazy, but while I have obviously tasted tons of Bokobsa wines over the years, I have never visited them in person until this trip. Great folks there  – from the owners, Clarisse and Lionel Bokobsa, down to the salespeople who helped us at this tasting, Benjamin Kukurudz and Patricia Uzan, and their Mashgiach, Mendy Asseraf, who also joined us for part of the tasting. Really sweet people who are knowledgeable about their product and the market overall. As much as there is a complex ecosystem in the US spirits market in general and the kosher market in particular, in France, in some aspects, it’s even more complex. There are competing kashrut organizations, which require separate labeling, depending on whose hechsher shows on the label (something that in Israel and the US is unheard of – you can have as many hechsherim as you want on the same label), as well as a complex relationship between various producers and distributors – of which Bokobsa is both – and which markets to various constituencies, which require the separate hechsherim. In any event, the folks there manage everything with grace and class, which is no small feat and not to be taken for granted. They also make some really great wines to boot. The problem is, from what I can tell, some of the best of them will probably only be distributed locally in France – but again, that’s part of the complexity of the aforementioned market. Before I start, just an FYI, both David and I post our notes independently and he is slightly ahead of me in posting. I will link to his notes when they are available before mine – I think people sometimes find it interesting to read them side by side.

Here we go:

2021 Jean-Pierre Bailly, Pouilly Fume – What a nice way to open! The nose on this wine show both rich tropical fruit balanced by excellent mineral and wonderful saline. In the mouth, up front the wine is a saline-monster followed by nice flint and mineral and then the fruit with nice grapefruit, quince, and of course gooseberry.  Everything here is balanced and the wine is beautifully light at 12.5% abv. Great stuff. 91+

Anthony Girard, Sancerre, L’indiscrete; 2021 Jean-Pierre Bailly, Pouilly Fume

2021 Anthony Girard, Sancerre, L’indiscrete    – Beautifully floral nose with a touch of smoke and flint – white stone fruit. Wow! This is a complex wine – with beautiful hard ripe stone fruit, white plum, excellent mineral with a touch of smoke and saline. The mouthfeel here is incredible – the wine coats the mouth – there is a really wonderful weight to it. A great finish too with more mineral and plum. IMHO – this is the closest we have got to the 2012 Roger Moreux Chavignol –It is Sancerre through and through. This is a beautiful wine. (13% abv) 93  

2017 Pascal Bouchard, Chablis, Premier Cru, Les Blanc Sarments – 12.5% abv – On the nose, there is quince and green apple followed by a hint of smoke and nice mineral. In the mouth, there is perfect balance between excellent acid and fruit – specifically pear, apple, and a bit of gooseberry (which oddly works here to an extent, though IMHO, it’s the one thing I would drop if I could). All in all, really nice stuff. 91.5

NV Moncontour, Vouvray, Methode Traditionnelle –– 12.5% abv – Beautiful golden color, stunning really. (It’s not something I usually care about). On the nose, you get nice funk, hay, some flint, and apple of course. In the mouth, you get a nice hit of lemony acid followed by tart apple, hay, and some flint. The finish is long with that flint, hay, lemon, and more funk. Good stuff! 91

NV Charles Lafitte, Grand Cuvee, Brut, Champagne – 12.5% abv – Nice nose of green apple, crème fraiche, and some nice toasted bread. In the mouth, for the most part you get apples, acid, a touch of crème fraiche. I wish there was a little lemon. But overall, this is a correct basic Champagne. 88

2021 Domaine Caseneuve, Rosé, Cotes de Provence – 13% abv – On the nose, rhubarb, strawberry, and cherry. In the mouth, missing a bit of acid but otherwise nice. Strawberry and rhubarb primarily. Nothing special, but nothing wrong with it either. A nice simple Rosé. 88

2021 Etienne Baily, Brouilly – 13% abv – This is a very “by the book” Gamay. On the nose, we have nice red fruit and some earth. In the mouth, plum, strawberry, a bit of earth, and some smoke. Nice acid.  A bit of tannin. And we are done. Simple fun wine. 89+ 

2020 Chateau Bellegrave, Saint-Emilion – 14.5% abv – Dark red and black fruit on the nose with some nice forest floor, mushroom, and tar. In the mouth – we have a winner! Nice dark red raspberry, blackberry, earth, mineral, a bit of anise, and some nice tar at the end. Nice structure here with firm tannin and good acidity. The finish is long with concentrated raspberry, some smoke, mineral, and a bit more tar. The wine is young and needs a couple of years to fully come into its own, but it’s very promising. 92+ (with room to improve)

2021 Chateau Hauteville, Saint-Estephe – 13% abv – On the nose, yes, it’s a little green, but it’s balanced out by some nice earth, really nice herbal notes, and some menthol. In the mouth, the wine is surpassingly light in body. The notes on the nose all carry through with nice focused red fruit, toasted herbs, and oak. Honestly, it will go really well with herbed chicken due to the lighter profile and the herbs. Nice overall. 90

My thanks again to all of the folks at Bokobsa. Looking forward to making this a yearly stop!

Next up Royal….

2 thoughts on “France Trip 2022 – Part 1 – Bokobsa

  1. Pingback: France Trip 2022 – Part 2 – Royal - Kosher Wine Unfiltered

  2. Pingback: France Trip 2022 – Part 4 – 2021 JP Marchand Burgundies - Kosher Wine Unfiltered

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