Gotham Wine’s Ninth Annual Wine Extravaganza results – WOW!!

I have posted often about why we love going to the Gotham Kosher Wine Extravaganza. Sure, Royal Wine’s International Food and Wine Festival is quite lovely, but in the end the wines are just from the Royal’s vast Portfolio. At the Gotham Wine Extravaganza, you get to taste Royal’s wines (though we skipped most of them this year as they were repeats of the IFWF) and wine from 7 other importers. To me this was the best one yet, hands down. We have been coming to this event for four years now, and it was where we first met many in the NY wine scene, as well. The evening was absolutely fantastic. Last year’s event was complicated by the difficulty of finding a place for the event. This year’s event was planned out beautifully in advance and it was once again hosted in the same location as it was last year – the West Side Institutional.

As stated many times already, the event is driven by the master in arms, Costas Mouzouras, General Manager of Gotham Wines of Manhattan, NY, and his merry band of helpers. Just like last year, the tables were setup by wine importer rather than by region, because at this event there was more than just one importer. The event is one of those truly rare opportunities where a person is able to taste wines from all around the world, from any importer, and almost any top line kosher wine that exists out there. Of course, there was a very large table of wines imported by Royal Wines. However, there was another 14 tables of wines and food from all around the world! Every year I feel like a kid in a candy shop!

Where else can you taste up to 500 or more different wines that are from wineries as varied as Dalton, Tepperberg, Recanati, Tishbi, Bravdo Winery, Happy Hearts Importer, Victor Wines, Hevron Heights, River Importers, and Royal (Carmel, Capcanes, and Yatir Winery). Each of these tables has the winemaker, wine importer, or wine expert. They were knowledgeable about the wines and as passionate about them as I am about wines. Overall the event was another home run. There must have been easily a couple hundred people at the event, all packed into the second floor of WSI. That said, I never had to wait long to get a glass of wine, and even if one of the people manning the tables was busy talking to a guest about a wine or winery, there was another person happy to pour for others. There was also a fair amount of wine mavens/maniacs, like me, that were a joy to converse with and get tips on what wines were really special or interesting to try, which came in handy when there are so many wines to look at/try.

Normally, the VIP tasting starts the day by tasting new, old, unique, and always very expensive and wonderful wines that Costas is oh so happy to share with us. However, this year, Shiki (Shlomo) Rauchberger, the head winemaker at Tepperberg, started off the VIP session by pouring many released and not-yet released Tepperberg wines. Included in the tasting were some barrel samples, the lovely Malbec, Cabernet wines, a new unreleased reserve blend that will be sold ONLY in magnum format. Also, he served a blend of what he will potentially call the Premium blend that is being pulled from only 6 barrels. Finally, he poured a port-like wine, called the Nevel Port that is made from Merlot grapes and aged outdoors using the angel’s technique. Interestingly enough, Tepperberg makes three sweet wines using a musical instrument theme. One is the nevel (harp) port, another is the kinnor (violin) which is a fortified dessert wine, and the third wine I missed.

This was supposed to be Shiki’s second event, as he was supposed to pour at the KWS of NY, but things fell through in the end. Most of the wines garnered scores ranging from B+ to A- to A-. Though in the end, the clear winners of the pouring ware the Malbec, 07 Cab Reserve, and the Premium blend. Though, if you ask Adam M (from Rogov’s forum), he would tell you the best bottle was the Nevel port.

After Shiki finished with his wines, Costas entered the room and went into classic Costas mode. I must once again bring notice to Costas Mouzouras, the general manager of Gotham Wines. Costas may come across as a somewhat quiet and demur personality. However, the man has serious skills, and is happy to share them with you if and when you are ready to listen. Once again, Costas was quiet in what some may perceive as a slightly less formal tasting. On the contrary, Costas is all about letting the room come to a conclusion before he gives them the real goods. I am always in awe of his palate, and I really do hope to be able to do what he does one day. I just need to say thanks again and again for the opportunity to attend this event and enjoy the wines, the company, and the camaraderie that is always infectious, and enjoyed by all those at the event.

Costas poured (not literally) some really cool wines! Actually, all pouring was handled by the two Josh(s), and another very nice person, whose name I forget now. The new Recanati wines, the 2010 White RSR, a blend of Chardonnay, Suavignon Blanc, and Viognier. The 2009 Wild Carignan is one of those truly lovely new Israeli wines that show nice animal notes and have a hedonistic bent to them. Next, we were poured the 2007 Binyamina Cave Blend, and the now famous 2007 Cave Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 Cave Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, has been all the rage in the kosher wine market and one that is insanely beyond my price range. Personally, as nice as this wine was, if I was spending 170 or so dollars, I would buy the Covenant Solomon or the Herzog To Kalon cabernet, though the Cave Old Vines Cabernet is quite nice as well. Next they poured two wines from Gvaot Winery, the Herodian Vineyard Dance and the Herodian Merlot. These were hand imported from Israel, by wine lovers who are interested in the wine, and Costas was very kind to share them with us. Finally, right before we were going to enjoy some dessert wines, he opened a bottle of the 2003 Carmel Zarit Cabernet. These were the wines before the single vineyard line from Carmel was made and before the appellation wines were made. The wine was dead, though it showed some nice barnyard, earth, green notes, and even had a tad of tannin left, but that was it! Then we enjoyed the two dessert wines, the NV Dalton Anna Muscat and the Tishbi 12 year Brandy. I cannot describe brandy flavors, it is a different vocabulary from wine, but it was not so smooth.

This year, the VIP session attendees was kept to a minimum and it truly streamlined the session in so many ways. The pouring was quicker, giving Costas and Shiki more time for the tasting. Also, it was not nearly as hectic, when you are trying to keep 40 cats on the same straight and narrow, rather than just 20. Also, the wines and options were killer and truly a joy to be a part of. Following the VIP tasting, I ran upstairs as I knew I had a long line of wines to taste.

I will have no chance to post all the wines I tasted at this event yet, but I hope to do so in the next few days. For now the clear winner for the evening was the 2010 Bravdo wines. Their entire line of new wines were solid and without any real issues, other than maybe the Merlot.

Another required kudos goes to the importers, who brought tons of new wines and no old rehashes. Also, Yarden was a no-show and I have no idea why. Instead, in their place was a table of lovely looking chocolate, which I had no time to try, and a table of simple food, like crackers which was a life saver for me and my palate!

Also, clear notes of green are running all over the new Israeli wines. We are talking nice green almost fresh forest. So, if you do not like green beware – many of the Israeli reds from 10 and 09 are greener than normal.besides the new vintages, there were new wineries thanks to Red Garden, the new boutique wine importer. They had Livni wines and Tanya wines– ALL 2009 vintages! They even had Pinot Noir and nice blends! They tasted just like they did at Sommelier, only the crazy tannin has now subsided a bit. Another new wine from Red Garden Imports is called 2009 Auteur Phillipe Lichtenstein Cab – nice! The wine was a bit alcoholic, as Sruli felt (another wine lover like me), but it was still quite nice anyway.

Now, I will run quickly through the wines I thought were winners and losers. The complete notes will be on a follow-up posting.

I am still not a fan of the Rose Louis de Sacy Grand Cru – nice but super aggressive bubbles really kill it. It may be better with time. For now, my no brainer go to Champagne is the Drappier D’Or.

Personally, other than the Recanati RSR white, none of the whites really grabbed me this year. The closest winners were the Ella Valley SB and the 2011 Bravdo Chard.

The 2009 Borgo Maturo and 2005 Borgo Brunello wines were still tannin bombs and need time to come together.

The 2009 Dalton Alma SMV is a great example of the green wines of 2009/2010. The wine is still beautiful, just a bit greener than I was ready for.

Almost all of the French wines at the tasting were mega DUDS!!!! Some with nice and appealing barnyard and sock notes – not enjoyable.

2009 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc was quite lovely! Green notes that remind me of a luscious green forest, bell pepper, and ripe red fruit, all blended together into a medium bodied vanilla, red, and green smoothie!

The new 2009 Odem Mountain Winery Volcanic and Har Odem series were OK, but the Chardonnay had so much residual sugar it should be called semi sweet!

The Bravdo wines were really wonderful! The only semi letdown was the 2010 Merlot, which was still nice.

The 2009 Recanati Cab reserve and the PSZ were BOTH quite nice, it was another winery that showed really well during the evening.

Finally, as the tasting was winding down, I caught sight of Isaac C, AdamM (also saw him at the VIP as he sat next to me), Duvie Wieder (who drove me to dinner), Sruli, his lovely wife (happy birthday!), and her good girl friend. Pinchas L, who did not attend the tasting, came into the city for the dinner and that rounded out the party! The gang met up and off we went to Le Marais. We all enjoyed the dinner, and I really enjoyed finally putting faces to many of the names here on the Forum. Abe Raice, from The River wine importer, arrived a bit later, but it was great to hear about the wine business from him.

Many thanks to Isaac C for putting together the dinner and putting up with all the machinations of the final bill after the meal! It was a lovely dinner, conversation was awesome, lively, honest, and truly entertaining. In the end, the evening had to end, and we all went our separate ways.

In closing many thanks to Costas as always for putting together an event that truly epitomizes the kosher wine scene. Yes the IFWF and KFWE are great, but since many of these wines are not there – this becomes an almost one-stop shop for tasting the best that kosher wine has to offer.

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Posted on March 5, 2012, in Food and drink, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Uncategorized, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

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