Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →