Sory and photo by Manos Angelakis
Jacques Capsouto’s Côtes de Galilée Villages debut in NYC.
After more than 30 years at the helm of the quintessential French bistro Capsouto Frères, the first high quality bistro in New York City’s Tribeca, Jacques Capsouto now emerges as a vigneron, with a number of tasty offerings from his vineyard in Israel’s Western Galilee, near the border with Lebanon.
After Capsouto Frères was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the death of his youngest brother Albert, Jacques decided not to re-open the restaurant in Manhattan. He had purchased a few years ago acreage at the Galilée, 6 miles from the Lebanese border.
The vineyard is located at an altitude of almost 2,000 feet, and is approximately 20 miles east of the sea. The soil is composed of limestone, red clay and chalk and the varietals he planted, Grenache Blanc and Noir, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Clairette, Roussanne and Marsanne had all originated from the Near East and propagated to the rest of the Mediterranean initially by Phoenicians and later on Greek and Roman traders.
Jacques decided that since these grapes had started in the general area, the dry and hot climate of the Golan would not be inappropriate; returning them to their origins would be less risky than planting some other international varietals. And he was proven correct as the samples I tasted with lunch were exceptionally drinkable even though the grapes came from very young vines.
The wines in Jacque’s portfolio I tasted were:
An entry level white kosher wine called Cuvée Eva – 60% Grenache Blanc, 19% Roussanne, 14% Clairette and 7% Marsanne. It is very impressive; an unoaked white with bracing acidity. On the nose light citrus, a bit grassy, but with a hint of white peaches and tons of minerality. On the palate more lime and grass as well as hints of almost ripe pears. It is bold and almost full bodied but beautifully balanced. This is a wine to be definitely had with a meal.
The rosé I had is also entry level and kosher and called Eva. Crisp, light & refreshing, with tons of personality, it is light-peach-colored. A light-bodied blend of 58% Cinsault, 22% Grenache Noir and 20% Mourvèdre. It has a rather floral nose, and flavors of strawberry, watermelon and citrus. Well structured, with a good level of acidity. As a first vintage, this wine is excellent but should be consumed young, within the next six months or so.
The entry level red, Cuvée Samuel is composed of 40% Mourvedre, 31% Grenache Noir, 25% Counoise and 4% Syrah. It is kosher as well as the white and rosé. The wine I tasted was young, mid-bodied, and could use a little more cellar time but as a first vintage it is heading in the right direction. The grapes absorbed the unique aromas and essences of the terroir and, for those that want to understand the connection of wine with everyday life in Galilée, this is as good a point to start as any. I’ll withhold judgment until I can taste a couple more vintages; Jacques, it is a good starting point.
To your health!
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