I hope you had a lovely Passover season. Ideally, you made a generous dent in your cellar, enjoying your best bottles with family and friends. If that is not the point of acquiring, cellaring, and aging fine wines, I don’t know what is. Thankfully, the CELLAR Club has an enticing release that will replace your bottles-turned-memories, with new opportunities for future enjoyment and pleasure. This quarter, we have a duo of red blends from France and Israel, one traditional, and one very much not. What they lack in similarity, they make up in quality. We are proud to present the 2019 Chateau Roquettes St Emilion Bordeaux, and 2019 Ya’acov Oryah Duke Pontiff.
The 2019 Chateau Roquettes is our first St Emilion Grand Cru since the now legendary 2011 Chateau La Clide, released almost a decade ago. The vines of Château Roquettes, formerly known as Roquettes Mondottes, are located in prime Right Bank terroir, between the very famous (and expensive) Château La Mondotte and Château Tour Baladoz. Grown on the clay-limestone plateau east of my favorite town in Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion, this is a classic blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon mixed in as well.
The 2019 vintage is proving to be one of the highest quality contemporary vintages in Bordeaux. Similar to the harvest in 2000, it seems that nothing could go wrong in 2019, and it would take an especially unlucky winemaker to mess it up. Fortunately that was not the case here. After over 20 years of producing kosher wine at Rocquettes and across the river in Margaux, winemaker Jean-Michel Garcion was especially excited about the quality and elegance of the 2019s. I think once you taste this wine, you will tend to agree.
The 2019 Duke Pontiff from Ya’acov Oryah is an enchanting wine. It borrows diverse styles that pays homage to two fascinating regions in France, The Rhone Valley (hope of the famous Chateauneuf du Pape – represented here as the Pontiff), and the Burgundy region (symbolized by the “Duke,” which was ruling class of this region for centuries). The 2019 harvest yielded some of the highest quality Pinot Noir from Israel, which was used mostly as a leading blending component for these higher end selections.
The flavor of this wine is as captivating and enigmatic as the name suggests. It opens with the soft fruit and floral elements of Grenache. Then, the tannins build and the darker fruit emerges, which echoes the classic elements of Syrah. Finally, the fruit harmonizes and the tannins refine, and one seems to experience a textbook, elegant Pinot Noir. Then you scratch your head, wondering if this was still the bottle you opened in the first place. A wonderful example of the blending prowess of Ya’acov Oryah, as well as the potential of Mediterranean varieties in Israel.