A Royal State of Affairs – KFWE 2012

February 22, 2012 12:47 pm 1 comment

Attendees at the Kosher Food and Wine Experience. Photo: author.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending one of the best wine tasting events of the year, Royal Wine Corporation’s KFWE2012 (Kosher Food & Wine Experience – they could have at least put wine before food).  While there are a few equally incredible wine events in Israel (Sommelier, IsraWine Expo and the Israel Museum tasting come to mind), KFWE stands tall as a premier wine tasting event in the United States, providing the ability to taste hundreds of top-notch (some exceedingly expensive and rare) kosher wines in addition to a splendid array of gourmet kosher foods from many of New York and New Jersey’s leading restauran

ts and caterers.  Obviously, the event only showcases wines in Royal’s portfolio that, while gloriously extensive, is not close to being the full spectrum of wines available to the ever-appreciating kosher oenophile.  To round out the kosher wine tasting experience, Gotham Wine & Liquors puts on an annual tasting every year showcasing a wide plethora of wines spread across a multitude of regions, wineries, producers and importers.  This year Gotham’s event will be held on March 4th.  As always, please check out my “Coming Events” page for links, details and special discounts to this and other wine related events worth of your attention.

I have attended this event every year since they started it in New York (other than last year when an unfortunately-timed, work-related trip to Australia coincided with the event) and can safely say that it has gotten better every year, with the food component being a brilliant addition to the event, providing spouses and friends less interested in wine (yes, folks like that actually exist) with something to do while the rest of us taste our way around the incredibly growing world of high quality kosher wines.

The increasingly large crowds (at least in recent years, the event has sold out at least a week in advance) of people willing to shell out the relatively high $100 ticket price is just another indicator of the increasing popularity of kosher wine and the willingness people have to spend money on it.  While doing a proper tasting among the hundreds of attendees can be difficult, there is usually pre-event press-time tasting for members of the trade & press which affords one the ability to do a more comprehensive tasting in relative calm before the discerning hordes descend on the event which, while creating a delightfully raucous environment, makes it a little difficult to make out the nuances of any but the biggest and most flavorful wines which tend to be crowd favorites due to their standing out with big, bold and fruity flavors that grab your palate’s attention by cutting through everything else.

For the first time, this year the “trade” portion of the event was from earlier in the afternoon from 12:00-4:00 PM which afforded people in the trade ample opportunity to taste the wines and chat with the winemakers in relative calm.  6:00-7:00 PM was designated at press time (although many of the press attended the earlier event including Alice Feiring and Howard Goldberg, both delightful individuals I was super-excited to meet, chat and taste wines with) and at 7 PM the doors were opened to the general public. Despite the throngs of attendees, for the bulk of the evening it wasn’t crazy crowded and most of the wines/winery representatives were accessible to all.  As I mentioned, the event was extremely well organized so kudos to the entire responsible team from Royal for that.

As a testament to the significance of the event and the importance of the North American market to the Israeli wine industry, a significant number of winemakers were in attendance (many of whom also traveled to Los Angeles for the West Coast event (the International Food & Wine Festival), including Assaf and Sasson from Binyamina, Yaakov Berg from Psagot, Yoram and his wife Ilana from Alexander, the entire Covenant team of Jeff, Jodie and Jonathon, Eitan Ben-Zaken from Castel, Phillip Jones of Goose Bay and now Pacifica as well, Jürgen from Capcanes, Tamir from Tulip, Pierre from Netofa (and Royal’s French Collection), Joe from Herzog, Irit, Shmuel and Ed from Barkan and other winery representatives including Adam from Carmel/Yatir, Dr. Moises from Elvi, Yossi Shor from 1848, Gilad Flam and Mayer Chomer from Shiloh.  As every year and despite how exhausted many of them were, they all had time for any and all questions and seemed to enjoy discussing the wines (more early on than later ).

The food was great and in my opinion has been a really successful addition, really enhancing the event and making it more inclusive.  As this is a wine newsletter and there was way to much to taste (or list) everything anyway, I just wanted to single out some of my personal favorites from the evening which included Po’ Boy sandwiches from Bistro 1310, barbequed ox tail from ETC Steakhouse, crazy decadent chocolate mousse from Finchi, corned beef and pastrami from Pomegranate, melt-in-your-mouth smokehouse brisket from Gemstone Catering, spicy Mexican chorizo from Jack’s Sausages, La Marais’ smoked duck breast, rib eye tartare (no raw egg unfortunately) from Downtown Brooklyn, a duck confit meatball and veal sheppard pie from Silverleaf Caterers and of course multiple incredible espressos from Noi Due.

Given the significant year-over-year improvements, I actually had very few complaints other than the fact that a few of the wines listed in the “program” to which I had been looking forward were no-shows (Valendraud, Segal Unfiltered, Psagot 2011 Chardonnay, Goose Bay 2011 Pinot Grigio, Binyamina 2011 Gewurztraminer), Binyamina was being a little stingy with the 2007 Cave (not to mentioned the under-the-table bottle of the Old vine version) and for some reason Castel continues to serve, pour and sell the obviously reductive 2009 Chardonnay..

Between attending Sommelier in Israel a few months ago and sitting on the judging panel for the Jewish Week’s annual “Kosher Wine Guide” I previously had the opportunity to taste many of the wines being offered, affording me more time for chatting with winemakers, friends and many subscribers to this newsletter.  It also allowed for more in-depth/detailed tastings of many of the wines I hadn’t yet tasted.  While this week’s newsletter doesn’t include any detailed notes (which will follow in the coming weeks), I have listed below a number of my favorite wines from the event that I highly recommend, many of which are completely new releases:

Binyamina, Reserve, Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, 2009:  Finally available in the United States.
Binyamina, Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: I previously reviewed this delicious & limited edition wine.
Bokobsa Selection, Domaine de Maltaverne, Pouilly Fume, 2007: Easily one of the highlights of the event.
Bokobsa Selection, Special Reserve, Sancerre, 2007: Together w/ the Pouilly Fume, a great showing by Bokobsa.
Chateau Léoville Poyferré, St.-Julien, 2005
: Per the [over-]hyped 2005 Bordeaux vintage, Léoville’s best to date.
Chateau Pontet-Canet, 2004
: An amazing replacement for its missing 2003 older sibling.
Capcanes, Peraj Ha’abib, 2009
: Tasted alongside the 2008 and 2010; all great, this was my pick.
Castel, Rose, 2011: Not yet released but stay tuned for a delightful follow up to the successful 2009 Rose.
Castel, Grand Vin, 2009: Castel’s flagship wine for a reason – deep, complex, layered and rich.
Covenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003: I have raved about this delightfully maturing wine before. A nice treat!
Covenant, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011: Crisper than 2010 version & very refreshing (partial malolatic fermentation).
Drappier, Carte-D’Or, Brut
: Delightful new kosher true Champagne. Enjoyed it more than the Brut version.
Elvi, Clos Mesorah, 2009
: Elvi’s new and deserving flagship wine (blend of Carignan, Grenache & Syrah)
Herzog, Generation VIII, To Kalon, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006: An annual highlight of the event for me.
Flam, Reserve, Syrah, 2010: A sneak preview of Flam’s newly kosher reserve series to be released in a year or so.
Laurent Perrier, Brut, n.v
: The romantic Rose gets all the attention, I actually prefer this crisply true Champagne.
Psagot, Prat, n.v: A welcome addition to the growing Israeli collection of port-styled wines.
Shiloh, Legend, 2007: Shiloh’s attempt at a more “Israeli” wine. Still needs time to develop but very well made.
Yatir, Forest, 2007: Together with 1-2 others, remains at the very top of the “Super-Israelis” list.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.