KFWE NYC 2016 – a return to the norm with a VIP expierance

20160229_182508Well in case you were tracking my posts leading up the 2016 KFWE NYC event, I was slightly critical of last year’s NYC event while I loved the LA event – which was in the W Hotel. This year, the NYC KFWE (which happened last night) was quite the event – as it returned to Pier 60, and had a VIP session to boot.

The VIP session was a nod to the epic VIP session of LA’s 2015 event and the 2016 LA KFWE event (tomorrow night), looks to be even more insane!

The doors opened for trade yesterday at Noon and closed at 4PM. Within 30 minutes the place was crowded, which is really good news. Trade is all about getting press about what kosher wine is and where it is heading. Yes, I have spoken many times about the fact that Royal Wines is the 900 pound gorilla – and it has the ability to crowd the market and push out its competitors as it flexes its muscles. Still, we need exactly what happened yesterday. The place was filled with reporters and wine buyers and critics tasting wines and being educated about the current state of affairs of the kosher wine world.

People still think kosher wine is nasty stuff (just search kosher wine on twitter), and this video and others are exactly what we need to spread the word that kosher wine has grown up, and continues improving every year! The reason for that – kosher wine consumers are growing by leaps and bounds and they want better food and better wine! Just look at the numbers; CBS2 reports that the kosher wine business is now doing $28 million a year and sales and growing.

Now personally, that number is pure bunk, it is far higher. Last year there were millions of bottles of Bartenura Blue Bottle sold, some report 5M other more like 9M. At 12 dollars a pop – the 28 million dollar number is either embarrassed or obliterated – all together. Add to that the roughly 1M bottles of wine produced by Herzog Winery at a blended average of 15 dollars a pop (the majority of their wines are less but they have many more expensive wines as well) – and that adds another 15M to the pot. Next add in the 13M dollars in Israeli exported wine sold in the USA (according to 2011 numbers which pale in comparison to 2015 numbers) – and you start to see how absurd that number of 28M really is. Where the number comes from is beyond me. Finally, we cannot ignore the amount of wine made in Europe and South America or here in the USA from the kosher California wineries (ignoring Herzog of course as that was cited earlier).

Now worldwide consumption of kosher wine is another entirely DIFFERENT number of course! Kosher wine produced in Israel (the vast majority of all the wine produced in Israel overall) – clocks in at 170M – again using a very old and conservative number (though part of that number is in the Israeli export number citied above).

IMHO, a VERY conservative number would be 250M of kosher worldwide consumption. In the USA that number is closer to 90M (again very conservative numbers)!

With those kinds of numbers, it is only a matter of time until companies, other than Royal start to take notice, and then it will get really interesting! Till then, we will need to keep pushing events like last night and tomorrow night (in LA)! These kinds of events shine the spotlight on this growing wine segment and one worthy of other company’s attention as well!

Personally, I was there to help my friend – Moises Cohen and Elvi Wines. Sadly, Moises was busy with family issues and as much as I was asked what wine I liked the most (most annoying part of the event – and more on that in a bit), I was asked where is Moises?

While my priorities were to Elvi and promoting its wonderful wines, I did get sometime to go around and taste wines from around the world. Here were my disappointments first – and then I will list my winners of the event:

  1. As I stated in previous posts, Yatir seems to be veering off field, but the wines at the event were horrible for a vastly different reason – that being the Israeli wine transportation and storage curse! Sadly, the Yatir wines that showed well in Israel were nasty here.
  2. Alfasi this time was a mess for two reasons. First the reserve line is not mevushal in 2013 and the wines were still not as good as last year – which was a shame.
  3. Ville Cape Pinotage – I was excited to see a new wine from South Africa – sadly this is not one to add to your buy list. I was asked what I thought of this wine by someone at the event and I said it was not good. His response – well it is 13 dollars a bottle! WRONG ANSWER! Sorry – I do not make wine, and I do not manage price points and the sort – but if the wine is not good why make it? What is the point? QPR wines exist – sadly the under 15 dollar price point is not well represented by this bottle and many others as well.
  4. UVA Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – sadly this was one of the hotter subjects on some kosher forums, and all I can say is that this wine is a B+ wine at best. Not a QPR wine and not even a wine I would search out. It is not complex or special in anyway. It exists – move on. For the price there are far better options.
  5. Bartenura/Ovadia – I did taste through these – and the majority of them are not worth the effort, though I did find the Ovadia Chianti to be drinkable, and it is mevushal. It will not be on my passover list, but a wine that could be useful in a pinch.
  6. OK – this will be controversial – so I am sorry in advance. 2013 RED Bordeaux wines, were well boring. Sure the Moulin Riche was passable, as was the Haut Condissas, and Greysac, Grand Puy Ducasse – but overall, not interested. The 2013 vintage in Bordeaux – for red wines – was a disaster – SIMPLE! Sadly, these wineries were not spared the curse of 2013. They are not good now, and maybe they will improve as I was told over and over again, all day yesterday. In this case – well you have no choice!
    I would stock up on 2009 – 2012 kosher Bordeaux while you can. Why? Because as supply ends on those vintages, we will be stuck with the 2013 for a long time. Royal will not sell you a 2014 until the 2013 is sold-out! So, buy up what you can of the older vintages and then wait – if 2013 improves – great! Otherwise, you will have the older vintages to carry you over, as we wait out the Bord-pocalypse!
    The Piada from 2013 is FANTASTIC as the vintage was wet and that works perfectly into the hands of noble rot and Sauterne. The best of the 2013 red Bordeaux wines is the 2013 Royamount. The 2013 Chablis is lovely as well.
  7. Psagot reds were painful, which hurts me, as they used to be great wines. The 2014 whites/rose were nice and show good potential for Psagot’s future in the hands of Yaacov Oryah.
  8. I tasted through the Binyamina wines hoping to find a mevu wine – none were interesting unfortunately.
  9. I tried all the red Montefiore, sadly none of them did it for me.
  10. Lastly, same goes for all the Or Haganuz wines. I really liked last year’s Elima wine – this year it and its brothers will not be on my list.

Winners – and must taste at KFWE LA:

  1. Goose Bay whites 2014 (Sauvignon Blanc, Fume Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chard in order of appreciation)
  2. Pacifica Pinot Noir 2012
  3. 2013 Piada Sauterne – possibly the best wine of the event! See, I did answer the question!
  4. 2014 Gigondas
  5. Champagnes overall were lovely, other than the pink Laurent Perrier
  6. 2012 Chateau Fourcas Dupre – best QPR wine of the event
  7. 2009 Chateau Tertre Duagay – very ripe wine – but lovely
  8. Castel crushed it – BRAVO! All three wines were lovely
  9. Koenig Riesling was lovely as always
  10. Netofa wines were lovely, but they still only sell the older vintages
  11. All the Matar wines were home runs!! They were also new vintages to boot!
  12. Weinstock Cellar Select Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc were good as always and the only real QPR mevushal wines of the night.
  13. Hagafen was there (will not be at KFWE LA) and the 2015 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc is INSANE! QPR winner for sure! Same for the 2013 Pinot Noir from Hagafen. I will hopefully be at the winery soon to taste the newer vintages.
  14. Tzafona Vidal continues to impress, but with the new 30 dollar price tag, I will have to remove the QPR moniker
  15. Covenant was awesome as always (also not at KFWE LA). I liked the 2015 Rose very much, as well as of their wines. Though the 2012 Solomon Lot 70 vintage shocked me with its very ripe nose. The mouth is lovely, but keep an eye out on that one.
  16. 2013 Carmel Chardonnay, Admon and the 2012 Carmel Sumaka Cabernet were very nice wines, just like they tasted in Israel.
  17. Tabor was of course pouring and the wines I posted in my article on the winery, showed well indeed! Kosher QPR wines do exist in the USA!
  18. Flam Winery continues to impress and their wines are not affected by the shipping issue – lovely wines – all of them!
  19. Of course all the Elvi wines rocked – and you know I am honest about them. The 2008 EL26 and Adar red are not my cup of tea, but yesterday they had the 2007 Adar red and that wine is a mushroom/dirt/fruit paradise!!! The Herenza Rioja wines are fantastic, and of course the Clos Mesorah is fantastic!
  20. Capcanes was the next table over and all of their wines were impressive as well – nothing new there!!
  21. Finally, the 2012 Maison Riviere Chateau Beaulieu La Fleur and the 2012 Maison Riviere Chateau Picampeau Lussac St. Emilion were nice wines. I liked the Chateau Picampeau more, but I need to see the price before I can attach the QPR moniker to it.

I was too busy with Elvi to get around to tasting all the new 2013 wines from Herzog, but from what I tasted it is a good vintage. Same goes for the Teperberg and Shiloh wines.

As you can see – the winners were longer than the disappointments! Also, many of the wines I loved were wines I have tasted before in Israel or my house. Still, quality wise – there were many nice wines to enjoy. I did not list other wineries, because while I may not like them (and yes I tasted them somewhere – Israel or elsewhere), I did not actually taste them at KFWE last night, and as such I cannot comment on them for this post. Still, you can read between the lines if you wish.

Personally, I was impressed. Last year was a mess, the location was too small and the food was not that great, except for a few options. This year they really stepped it up! The trade event was busy – as stated above, and that is great, educating the masses is what the KFWE is all about! Pier 60 is still the best venue so far, ever since they have grown in size. I was pouring till late into the event and the sheer madness that was last year – did not occur this year. Remember KFWE NYC sold out! So, the elbow room that existed all night in the VIP and the general admission locations were not because of a lack of sales. On the contrary – it felt EXACTLY like the 2013 and 2014 shows. Sure it was crowded, but very manageable and liveable. The food options seemed far better than last year (though I was pouring as I stated, so I do not know first hand – but what went by me looked better).

The VIP session, that was located on the Horn blower Yacht was well-appointed. This was the same Yacht that Royal used in 2013 and 2014. However, this time instead of it being an overflow area for the primers (Prim and Proper crowd – the ones that come to be seen) like in the past, it was primary and expensive real estate indeed!

The boat had enough room to accommodate the VIP guests and while they were pouring some very nice old and current wines, the food was a bit lacking. The VIP session was the entire first floor of the Yacht and was setup with three pouring stations and a bar. The first pouring station was pouring old vintage wines, and many were awesome, while some were OK. The clear winners of the old vintages were:

  1. Famous 2006 Herzog ToKalon Cabernet Sauvignon – the first ever Herzog Single Vineyard wine
  2. The Famous 2009 Capcanes Peraj Habib and some 2011 Capcanes Peraj Habib – from an Imperial sized bottle (6L bottle)
  3. 2004/2006/2007 
Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. 2009 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, Solomon Lot 70 – the best of the Solomon wines so far
  5. And a fantastic 2004 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
  6. YES! There was a 2002 Château Valandraud – it was ok, really lacking – almost hollow, but nice.

The current wines were being poured from the bar – that is in the center of the floor. There were many winners there, including the epic 2013 Clos Mesorah and Castel Grand Vin.

Food wise, they had a lovely sushi bar and a carving station with brisket and other meats. On the other side, was desserts. All the while there were waiters walking around with platters of duck and other such delicacies. In the end, the food was a bit of a let down in comparison to the wines, which were lovely. The current wines being poured at the bar – were all flagship wines and while I dislike a few of them, they are still wines that many appreciate.

So, while the wines shined brightest, the food in VIP was a slight step behind. The Sushi was great to me, but I am not the picky food eater, that I am with wine. Still, the food felt like stuff that I make at home, and was not the VIP food I was expecting.

Also, for the first hour the Yacht, though tethered well to the Pier, was rocking to the evening tide. Look, I get it, there is no more room in Pier 60, and a moveable structure – like a boat is/was a great idea. So it comes tethered with logistical issues, like tide and out of control heaters. Still, in the end, the VIP session was a success and that is what Royal was shooting for with their first year.

While most were partying on the boat, I was busy at the Elvi table and it and the hall were hopping! Pier 60, as stated before, was busy, but not in an out of control manner – like last year. This event hit it on all cylinders, and the folks that came to our table looked happy, and the conversations that I caught as folks stopped over were all about food and wine, and nothing else – which is a mark of a well run food and wine event.

The funny fact was that this KFWE was Royal’s 10th in NYC and first with a VIP session. I guess it is all about coming full circle! It started with what must have felt like a VIP experience to those who were there at the first KFWE NYC (I sadly missed it), and now Royal is poised to enter into the next decade in VIP style!

Posted on March 1, 2016, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Industry, Wine Tasting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Dude…very interesting musings! Am also glad you liked the 2009 Solomon so much. But you’ve called it Capcanes Solomon Lot 70. Maybe you can write a little postscript correction?

    Sorry we won’t be in L.A.

    All the best,


  2. Aaron Hollander

    The 2012 Maison Riviere wines are $20-$25. I too like the Picampeau better.

  3. Yes, the Maison Riviere wines are the same price @ 20-25 -as Aaron said.

  4. Nice catch on ridiculous CBS2 guesstimate.

  5. Out of curiosity, are the non-mevushal wines at the kfwe events in ny and la poured only by Jews and only shomer Shabbat Jews or is this not something most of the wines/wineries ensure?
    Btw we missed you last year by the Seder, I was by your brothers house for the first Seder but I was told you come for the second Seder.
    I am not sure if I will have the esteemed privilege of doing the first Seder by your brother this year, but if I do, is there any chance we can coordinate having your presence at that Seder?

    • This is a question that comes up much more at tastings in Israel, where the question is less pertinent. In the USA, all tastings that I know of, have religious Jews pouring the wines. They even clean the glasses out at every pour. We will not be in Chicago for Passover. Have a great one.

      • Thanks for the info regarding the pouring.
        We will miss you over Passover. Are you planning on visiting anytime in the near future? I’m still looking forward to getting anther game of softball.

  6. What’re your thoughts on the 2011 Teperberg limited edition Petit Verdot?

  7. Sorry Ezra – not a wine I have had. Some folks I know call it Israeli wine – which makes me not plonk down 100 NIS for it. More than that I have no idea – sorry!

    • I have a few bottles regarding which I wanted to get your opinion.
      Have you ever heard of La Domainie Bordeaux from France. I got a few bottles of he 2014 and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
      Also what’s your opinion on 2011 yiron, dalton merlot reserve 2010, shiloh shor barbera 2011, bartenura rosso toscano 2012?
      One last question do you think the 2005 yiron still has any years left in cellar ing time or is it already in drink up mode?

      • Which La Domainie Bordeaux? I need the name of the house/winery? I have lost love for Yiron, though the 12 is OK in a pinch. Dalton Reserve Merlot 2010 was OK, but the newer vintage is definitely on my list for passover that I just posted. The Shiloh wines here in the USA, do not taste the same as they do in Israel, so I did not put them on my top wines for Passover. The Toscano 2012, is an ok wine, but there are better options. Yiron 2005 was always a great and cellar friend, but it is in drink up/now and not for much more time at all.

  8. Ty for your informative response.
    Regarding the la domainie, I’m not sure how to answer that question. I thought la domainie was the winery. Let me know if there’s a way or means to send u a pic of the label.
    I do see that it on the back it says estate produced and bottled and there’s a number underneath 33242A à les Leves 33 220.
    On the front it has

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